If you put “Indonesia” into Google, most likely an image of Mt. Bromo will be one of the first to come up. That or, Borodudur, but that’s next time. Mt. Promo is an active volcano in East Java and is one of the top destinations when visiting Indonesia. With it’s close proximity to Surabaya, I’m surprised it took me eight months to finally make the trek.
We decided to go for my housemate’s birthday and opted for a sunrise viewing, the irony of her name being “Dawn” was not lost on us. We booked a car to pick us up at midnight and take us the 3 hour drive to the entrance of the national park. It all started out fine enough with us laughing and joking until most of the group fell asleep. I, unfortunately, was not so lucky, and being very susceptible to motion sickness, was fully awake when we came to the 1.5 hours worth of switchback mountain roads. Can I just say, nothing is more embarrassing than asking a complete stranger to continually pull of a car so you can vomit and dry heave. Any possibility of being cool and adventurous on this excursion was gone instantly.
When we finally (finally) made it to the park, we rented a driver and a hardcore Jurassic Park style jeep to take us the remainder of the way. Pretty much you must do this, although I believer there is a way to hike it yourself, but that takes hours and hours. Although, I had zero desire to get back into a vehicle. We then bought our tickets, and being Kitas holders (working visas), we were able to use the local prices of 34,000 rupiah ($2.50) rather than the tourist price of 250,000 rupiah ($19.00).
The drive the rest of the way thankfully wasn’t so bad and we made it in time to park and walk the rest of the way to the viewing point. Now, the sunrise is stunning which means that everyone wants to see it which means that there are a lot of people, and even more selfie sticks. It’s also high on a mountain so it’s quite cold. Prepare accordingly by bringing jackets, gloves, and hats. You can also rent jackets and blankets from venders, but they’re obviously overpriced. Also, there is a lot of smoke in the air from the volcanos nearby, so bring a mask or scarf to cover your mouth and nose.
The sunrise was cloudy, but make sure you stick around for the sun to burn away the clouds in order to get your epic view of the volcano and surrounding countryside. Also, walk around the viewpoint area, there are lots of different angles and some areas are much less crowded.
Once you have spent as much time as you’d like at the top, you make your way back down to your jeep. Make sure you remember the color and number on the side of your vehicle, there are literally hundreds of the jeeps parked on the mountain. You can also stop at one of the many shops/stalls for a bit of breakfast or coffee.
After locating your car, you’ll be taken down into the crater where the volcanos are located. The drive down offers lots of great photo ops with no people so don’t be afraid to ask your driver to stop while you snap some pictures. The crater has a totally different landscape and the terrane is bumpy and rough. It’s off-roading like you’ve probably never experienced. We stopped for a photo op of the two volcanos and at a lush, green, Hobbiton style area. Seriously, it was like driving from Mordor to the Shire in 20 minutes.
Finally, it was time to climb Bromo and take a look into the crater. To reach the base of the volcano you have to walk across a sand flat which is very reminiscent of Tattooine form Star Wars. The sand whips up and makes viewing quite a challenge at times, bring out your mask again. You can walk up yourself or take a pony (for a cost) up most of the way. As an animal lover, I highly suggest avoiding using the ponies as the conditions are not very nice for them and I saw more than one trip going down the mountain. Unless you have a physical condition that makes climbing tough, you shouldn’t have a problem with this short hike. It’s not challenging. The hike up only takes about 30 minutes or less. We even saw campers along the way, so if you are interested, it seems that camping is an option. There are also a couple stalls where you can buy water, energy drinks, or a snack along the way. You’ll eventually reach some stairs that will take you to the brim of the crater.
This ended up being one of the more spectacular craters I’ve seen because it was heavily fuming. Be careful once you reach the top, safety is not a big concern with only a small barrier between you and a smoking volcano. Some people take risks and walk along the rim, but due to my sickness I decided I wasn’t strong enough on my feet to put my life at risk. It’s dangerous if you choose to do that, but I saw a number of people doing it.
Once you’ve had your fill of the top, make your way down and back to your jeep. This is the end of your tour and you will be brought back to where you originally rented the jeep. Motion sickness aside, it was a great experience and I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in East Java. Go for sunrise, it’s worth it.