Mount Bromo Hike & Bromo Sunrise: Our DIY Guide
Java’s biggest tourist attraction is by far Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. When you’ve been travelling for as long as we have. it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all, but the epic landscape at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park blew us away. It exceeded all our expectations. The highlight here is the Mount Bromo sunrise with views across the whole park and of course the Mount Bromo hike to the crater.
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Where possible, we like to do things ourselves without using tour companies. It gives us absolute freedom for each experience and a real sense of adventure. If you’re wanting to see the Mount Bromo sunrise without a guide and enjoy a Mount Bromo hike to the Bromo crater in your own time, keep reading for our guide on how to do it yourself.
Getting From Probolinggo To Cemoro Lawang
The first step in this Mount Bromo hike & Mount Bromo sunrise DIY guide is to get yourself to Probolinggo. As far as we’re aware, unless you hire a private driver, it isn’t possible to get to Cemoro Lawang directly from anywhere else. However, Probolinggo has a bus terminal and a train station so the first step is pretty easy. The town is well connected to many destinations by public bus and train, but if you don’t wish to take public transport, there are plenty of shared tourist shuttle vans running from major destinations such as Yogyakarta.
It’s from Probolingo to Cemoro Lawang where things get a little trickier. The closest that public transport can get to Cemoro Lawang is Probolinggo. The locals know this and unfortunately, take advantage of it.
There are two options from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang:
Taxi: The easiest but most expensive option is to use an overpriced taxi/private car. Locals will charge up to 350,000IDR per car for the quick 1-hour journey. Haggling is possible but good luck with that. They’ll most likely not budge from their first quote.
Shared Van: Being on a budget, we took the option of a shared van. Our bus from Malang city to Probolinggo dropped us to where vans depart and a local guy approached us telling saying it would be 30,000 each to Cemoro Lawang. The local rate is around 20,000 so we thought this sounded like a good deal.
The way these vans work is by waiting until enough tourists turn up in Probolinggo to fill every seat. We were lucky to arrive when a van had just two seats left so the other 8 tourists were thrilled to see us after waiting for two hours. However, the driver then started asking for 50,000 each, saying there are still more seats available to fill. There were not. Everyone’s backpacks were taking up the otherwise available 3 seats so it would have been impossible to fit any other passengers in. This is all part of a scam in Probolinggo but we all begrudgingly agreed after they unreasonably wouldn’t negotiate.
Where To Stay In Cemoro Lawang
The going rate for a cheap homestay starts at 150,000 per night for a double/twin room. There are quite a few homestays in town and a small handful of hotels.
We chose to stay at Cafe Lava. This is the most popular hotel in Cemoro Lawang because it’s very central and offers a selection of rooms to suit all budgets. They have a few economy rooms at 150,000 per night, standard rooms at 400,000 and superior rooms at 500,000. The economy rooms were full on our arrival so we had to fork out the extra 250,000 a night for a standard room.
Cafe Lava has mixed reviews and we could see why. The staff weren’t terribly helpful and the rooms are overpriced for what you get. But the restaurant has good wifi and the breakfast included in the standard and superior room price was quite good. Cafe Lava is also well located for the Mount Bromo hike & Mount Bromo sunrise.
The Hike Up To The Mount Bromo Sunrise Viewpoint?
There are three viewpoints to watch the Mount Bromo sunrise. The highest viewpoint, at 2700 meters altitude, is the busiest. It’s here where all the tours go to watch the Mount Bromo Sunrise.
It takes a fit person two hours to hike to the top of Penanjakan Hill from Cemoro Lawang, but we recommend you follow our advice and not hike all the way to the top before sunrise.
We left Cafe Lava at 4:00am and started walking towards Penanjakan Hill. The trail is super easy to find. In the centre of Cemoro Lawang, near to Cafe Lava, the road forks off in two directions. You can’t miss it. To get to Penanjakan Hill take the road which forks to the right. Then follow the road for about 45 minutes until some clear steps can be seen on the right side of the road. It’s then a 15-minute staircase climb to the first Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint.
The first viewpoint was a little too busy for our liking so we continued for another few minutes until we found our own private Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint in a gap between the trees. The concrete steps end at the first viewpoint and it turns into a dirt path from then onwards. The only challenging part is immediately after the first viewpoint where hands are needed to climb some steep rocks. But don’t be put off, it lasts for only 2 minutes.
Our Mount Bromo sunrise would be our first clear Java sunrise! We were so pleased and watching it at our own private viewpoint made it extra special. Once the sun was up, we continued to the highest Mount Bromo Sunrise viewpoint. By this time, most of the tour groups had left for the Mount Bromo hike to Bromo crater, so we almost had the viewpoint to ourselves.
The Mount Bromo Hike to Bromo Crater
It took us 1.5 hours to walk from the highest viewpoint back to Cafe Lava. By this time it was 9:00am which gave us 30 minutes to eat breakfast before it closes at 9:30am. With a belly full of noodles, rice, eggs, fruit and coffee, we headed back out for the Mount Bromo hike to Bromo crater.
We heard rumours that you’re supposed to pay an entrance fee to gain access to Bromo crater, but we did not see where this could be purchased. We’d also already spoke to other travellers who had gone without paying. It may change in time, but currently, there are no ticket collectors at the Bromo crater site.
To get to the Bromo crater you can either jump on the back of a bike taxi for 50,000IDR or walk. We walked to enjoy the views of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park on the way.
It was a 45-minute walk from Cemoro Lawang, across the Sea of Sand, to the bottom of Mount Bromo. At times, the wind would carry a wall of volcanic sand, like a sand storm in the Sahara desert. We weren’t prepared for this but wearing sunglasses and turning in the opposite direction prevented the majority of the sand getting into our eyes. Be careful of any camera equipment as the fine sand can severely damage lenses etc.
For the actual Mount Bromo hike to Bromo crater, it’s only a 30-minute trek through extraordinary lava fields and up a long staircase.
The Roaring Bromo Crater
Bromo crater also exceeded our expectations. This was our first encounter with an active volcano crater and we did not expect it to sound so active! Bromo crater roars like a huge jet engine in full throttle. It’s such an intimidating force of nature and deserves the huge respect it gets from local residents. The locals display their respect by praying on the crater rim and throwing offerings into the growling black hole.
On the Bromo crater rim, there’s a short concrete wall for about 75 meters. This provides visitors with some security so to not fall in, but the remainder of the rim is a very narrow path with a steep drop on both sides. There was no way Shelley and I were going any further than the concrete wall, but a handful of locals were casually walking the rest of it without a care in the world! Even in flip flips! A simple slip of the feet or loss of balance would mean instant death.
The views across Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park were as stunning as those up at the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoints. The landscape is so unusual and easy to make you feel like you’re exploring another planet.
Best DIY Timings For Mount Bromo Hike & Mount Bromo Sunrise
To give yourself the best possible chance to avoid the huge crowds at the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoints and the Bromo crater, follow these DIY timings.
4:00 AM – Leave Cemoro Lawang for the Mount Bromo Sunrise.
5:00 AM – Arrive at the first viewpoint or your own private viewpoint between the trees.
5:30 AM – Watch the Mount Bromo Sunrise.
6:15 AM – Leave the first viewpoint for the top viewpoint.
7:00 AM – Arrive at top viewpoint
7:30 AM – Leave top viewpoint to get back to Cemoro Lawang for breakfast
9:00 AM – Arrive back at Cemoro Lawang
10:00 AM – Start the Mount Bromo hike to Bromo Crater
11:00 AM – Arrive at Bromo Crater
To give yourself an even better chance of avoiding the crowds we recommend avoiding weekends. The weekends get busy with Indonesian tourists, even in low season. Our DIY Mount Bromo hike and Mount Bromo sunrise was enjoyed on a Friday which was fine, but we noticed the difference in Cemoro Lawang while hanging around until Monday.