Best sunrise ever – Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

The beauty of Java is undeniable! Ijen Crater is located just on the East of the Island so it’s possible to take a 24 hour trip  from Bali.
We decided to explore a little more of this magical land and headed on a local train to Probolinggo. This will be your starting point if you wish to explore Bromo! Now, that’s the most beautiful place we’ve seen in Indonesia so far!
Bromo is the youngest from 5 volcanoes located in gigantic 16km wide Tengger caldera. Together they make a very spectacular scenery.

How to get to from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang.

It is not easy, again, to move to the Cemoro Lawang Village which is located right at the caldera edge. Of course, you can take a taxi and pay at least 500.000 IDR but you can do it much much cheaper with public transport and little bit of effort.

First of all, as we came to Probolinggo from Bunywangi by train we needed a small mini bus to take us from the train station to the bus station. It took around 20 minutes and cost 5000 IDR per person which would make around 50cents! Do not let the “train station wise guys” fool you. As soon as we got off the train they offered a lift and asked for 10 times more than what we saw in an official Probolinggo guidebook available in the information booth across the street. When we left the tourist info they agreed without blink of an eye to take us to the bus station for the 1/10 of the price which they offered 2 min before!

On a local bus directly to Bromo

So 5.000 IDR and we are already on the bus terminal. Here, the cheapest way to travel to the Cemoro Lawang is by a public bus which can fit up to 15 people. The rate for the whole bus trip is flat. It’s 525.000 IDR (as for 2017) which makes the price of 35.000 IDR per head. That will work only if the bus is full. Usually, the driver will wait until his vehicle is full and cosy, putting all the luggage on the roof. Sometimes, unfortunately, you will have to wait few hours until there’s enough tourists ready to share the lift so it’s also an option to split the cost among a smaller group of people. This will save a lot of time. We waited 2 hours before there were 14 of us so our journey was 37.500 IDR per person. Acceptable. So let the fun begin!

We are almost ready to set off…

When we all got on the bus, the driver could’t start the engine for a few minutes. We were all pretty angry because some of us were waiting long hours to finally catch that ride! Before we departed, our driver and his local friends had to push the van for few meters before it finally started. The funny thing is, it was filled with us – 14 passengers and all the luggage on the roof – must have been some hard work! And when we thought we were finally on our way, we still needed to get some fuel. Oh my lord. Never be in a hurry in Indonesia. It just doesn’t work so don’t be bothered, enjoy the moment and try to relax!

Funny moment

While refueling, a guy at the petrol station, looking very friendly, asked Mike if we are on a honeymoon. It was so funny, because there were 14 of us squeezed together so did he ask just about me and him? We don’t know so Mike replied with a huge smile “yeah, all of us, honeymoon” showing a large group of people from different countries! Another moment to laugh. And then….. yeah then we finally departed towards our destination!

Volcanoes of Bromo
Bromo National Park

Joyful walk to the edge of the crater

The journey to the Cemoro Lawang, a starting point of the sunrise hike, takes about 1h 30minutes and every person needs to pay the 1st entry fee to the village which is 10.000 IDR. This excludes locals so we only think about tourists here. Then, technically, if you decide to buy an organized tour or hike through the main entrance to the Volcanoe, it will coast you 220.000 or 320.000 IDR depending if you visit the place on a weekday or weekend. The entry fee and the ticket is valid for only 1 day so if you wanna see the sunset and then the sunrise, that doubles the price. Locals have to pay a tiny fraction of that. What a bummer! That’s ridiculously expensive, considering that it is just single day pass and we are in Asia! So… there’s an option to just hike on your own, and go a longer way, avoiding the main entrance. We entered the National Park twice, not paying at all. And we know there’s many people doing that trick!

Be your own guide and hike on your own!

Hike on your own, be your own guide and save a lot of money! We came to the Bromo creater for the sunset same afternoon and we had the whole place to ourselves! The organized groups do the sunrise with the jeeps that take tourists to the highest lookout first, and then after 30min they drive down to the volcanoe. That way, it’s a super crowded place in the morning from about 5am-9am. After that time frame, the place is empty. By hiking on your own in the morning, you not only save money but also, you have all the beauty to yourself without any disruptions. There’s just many hidden, secluded spots to watch the sunrise on the way up. You decide where is the best spot for you and you can have it just for yourself. How awesome!

In the Village we booked a night in a Yog homestay for 200.00IDR per night. We think this must have gotten pretty expensive over last few years, but it is one of the most popular tourist spots in Indonesia. They try to make the most of its popularity. The homestay is located almost by the lovely lookout, so you really feel you arrived at Mt Bromo! It is incredible. So close, just “few meters” away, it seems.  We waited in Probolinggo from 10am, cought a ride to Cemoro Lawang at 12:00pm and finally got to the homestay shortly before 2:00pm. We left all the luggage and rushed to sightseeing to make the most out of that day.

It’s always good to meet fellow travellers!

We met a couple of travelers that shared some tips on how to explore the National Park for free. They said to follow the road and turn right through some picturesque fields. Then just continue the small, dirt path along the edge until there’s a decent down to the bottom of the caldera. On our way, we already found some excellent outlooks on the Mt Bromo , so we used this photographic opportunity, straight away. Then, finally we took the route down and found ourselves in a different, volcanic world, walking on ash and black sand.

We walked straight through wast volcanic wasteland, looking at Mt Batok and Bromo at all times. The full route from homestay took us around 1h 30mins until we finally saw the hindu temple, just in front of the steps, leading to a crater. The timing was perfect. It was about a sunset time but still we had few minutes to climb to the top of Mt Bromo and hear how loud it actually is. It was scary, no joke! You hear it roar from the bottom and there’s thick cloud of gas coming out. So impressive.  If it erupted we would have no chances, at all. The power of the nature is hard to describe. But if you  found yourself standing on the rim of the volcano and listening to Mother Earth humming a fearsome lullaby you would understand.

The views from the crater’s edge are beyond stunning. It was a sunset time so the soft and warm light made this location even more magical. Just take a look at some of our photographs. We were so excited that we made it to this fantastic place, altough it wasn’t easy. It proved us that anything is possible, just make the first step and go confidently towards your dreams and eventually they will become memories. This was one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever seen! Thank you Java for being so spectacular.

Shortly after 5:30 pm it started getting dark so we followed the same route and came back to the village. During this trip we only met 6 people by the creater, nobody on the way to the volcanoe and back. It was so quiet and beautiful, just us and the outstanding scenery. Could it be any better? We don’t think so 😉 After making our way back to the hostel we knew we should get some rest before waking up early to start the morning hike. Altough being tired and having some muscle pain, we were still excited for the next upcoming sunrise adventure.

Early dusk at Bromo
Dusk at volcanic wasteland
standing on the edge of Volcanoe
Just conquered Bromo together

Sunrise Adventure

3:30 AM: time to wake up and do some brief preparations for the morning hike to a sunrise point. We didn’t have a proper torch this time, but the Iphone flashlight did help a lot. We started the hike and, although we felt weak in our legs, we slowly made our way up the asphalt road. We only knew we have to go up the road and follow it until we’ll notice it’s the right spot to watch the sunrise.

You can always get a lift to the top, if you want!

While walking up, few motorbikes passed by offering a lift, another form of a taxi transport. We kindly replied we love to walk and we’ll be fine. After about an hour, we came to a point where some jeeps were parked and the music was played in the speakers pretty loud. Kind of a party mode. After few meters we could notice some stalls with food, souvenirs, beverages. It felt good to know we were not alone in the darkness of the night but the bussiness of the local people was already working at this stage of the hike. We were looking for some more privacy tho. A nice jawanese man showed us the route which changed into a steep stairs, at least we knew we are on the right way.

Let’s continue the hike…

A couple of minutes later we came to the first viewing platform that was already full of people. You could also buy here a cup of tea, coffee or instant noodles. From this point, the road up changed into a narrow, steep climb up, sometimes covered with vegetation. We met a small group of people who just like us were looking for a private sunrise spot, so we confirmed that it’s still the right way to follow. Although we didn’t get to the highest point, where all the tourist arrive with tourguides and jeeps, we managed to find a perfect spot just for ourselfs. It was already 5AM and we could see the colours of the sunrise behind our backs. Now it was the waiting game and time for a time-lapse video making to see how the volcanoes and the sky change their colours. It was amazing.

Best sunrise of our lives!

We were speechless and we think this was the best sunrise of our lives, yet! We were shooting time-lapses on a go pro and a dslr camera and after the sun rose, we started posing to the camera, ourselves! Happy times! The night and the morning were cold so we were wearing our colourful winter jackets and the proper winter beanies. We highly recommend taking some warm clothes with you, it gets quite cold especially if you stay in one position, waiting for the sunrise.  It’s much warmer when you keep walking up the hill!

Alright, we made it and now, after we had already taken 1000 photos, we decided to continue hiking up the mountain to see some other viewing platforms. It was not so crowded at the higher altitudes as most of the jeeps already departured to the bottom of the caldera where we enjoyed sunset a day before. We had a really good time walking in such a breathtaking scenery!

Our way to Surabaya

At around 7:30 AM we decided we can slowly start walking down as we had the return bus booked for 10:00 AM. This was very comforting to actually know we will get back to Probolinggo and the driver will pick us up from the homestay. Well, us and 13 other people squeezed together in an old van, but that’s okey! At least we don’t have to wait for 2 hours to catch a ride.

Last moments in the Cemoro Lawang village

After descending from the mountain, it was only 8:15 so we did another photoshoot in the previously found location, among the fields. It was lovely, peaceful, calm. It felt that we were alone with just few locals working in their paddocs. The village was looking very neat that morning and our shooting locations was lovely, too. At 8:30 we were back safe and sound in the village so we happily went to the Warung to eat breakfast. We had the most delicious chicken-soup with the cup of tea each. Surprisingly, when we reached our hostel at 9:20AM, the driver of a bus was already waiting for us. Woah!!!

Time to leave the wonderful Bromo National Park.

We quickly packed our belongings and got on the van. Just as we knew, we picked up another 13 passengers and started the journey back to Probolinggo. This was quick as we were heading downhill. Not much over an hour. We also had a pre-booked bus to take us on-ward to Surabaya. It all went well! The big coach picked us and some other passengers up and we transferred comfortably to a well-maintained, air-conditioned bus. Surabaya was our last stop on Java. The whole trip from the Cemoro Lawang this time went smooth and fast. Now, we only need to get to the airport, and start the long journey home. After a year full of adventures and intense travelling!

Panoramic picture of Bromo taken with DJI Phantom 4 drone
Panoramic picture of Bromo taken with DJI Phantom 4 drone

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