Mighty Mount Bromo: A Hike To Satan's Roar
Dozens of travelers arrive in Probolinggo either by bus, train or car and from there the journey to Mount Bromo starts. Travelers that don't bother buying a tour, like us, have to make it up the mountain by public transport. Easier said than done. After a night in a cheap guesthouse in Probolinggo, the next step was to go to Cemoro Lawang; the closest town where the trail to the rim of the volcano starts.
Related read • Sunrise At Mount Bromo - Hiking To Another Planet
From Probolinggo, taking a taxi to the bus station was easy. Arriving there we were told to wait around 20 minutes until the minivan fills up with people going to Cemoro Lawang. A one way ticket? 35.000 Rupiah per person. Those vans can take up to 15 people and there were only 3 other people waiting. Ten more and we would set off to our destination close to Mount Bromo.
We don't mind having to wait for a bit if we can travel cheaper, so we thought 20 minutes was just fine. One hour later though, we were still waiting. Only one other couple arrived and time kept passing by without luck. Everybody started to get impatient and another half hour passed by. No one. We had to do something so we decided to rent the whole van and divide the cost between the seven of us. For 80.000 Rupiahs per person we were on our way.
The horrible drive up the mountain to Cemoro Lawang
We were excited. Only an hour's drive away from an awesome volcano. That excitement soon disappeared as I noticed our driver was falling asleep. Seriously!? Again? This was the third or fourth time we had a driver that seemed exhausted and couldn't stay awake. I moved to the front of the van confronting him with the fact his eyes were closing. “No problem”, he said. Yeah, sure, buddy...
I decided to stay right behind him in case I had to take over the wheel. Luckily nothing happened and we arrived at our guesthouse in Cemoro Lawang an hour later.
The hike to Mount Bromo's crater rim
Because almost all of the people that buy a tour go in hordes up the mountain to the sunrise viewpoint at 3 or 4 in the morning and then rush all together to the crater rim around 7 or 8 we decided to hike to Mount Bromo in the afternoon. It turned out to be a great plan.
We set off and went straight for the villager's trail to Mount Bromo. This trail is hidden behind the Cemara Indah hotel and intended to be the local’s free pathway to the volcano. Joanna: “Even tho we read about it in multiple sites on the internet, I was feeling a bit hesitant. The entry fee is 217,500 R or 317,500 R on the weekends only for the volcano and a completely unnecessary guide, since the viewpoint is free for everyone. Surely someone must be checking the ‘hidden’ path... but at around 2:00 pm there was no one there except a guy selling hats and scarfs. Awesome.”
In the morning hundreds of people pay the over priced fee for the tours, so we didn't feel guilty at all... We don't mind paying entrance fees but for budget travelers it's getting ridiculous at some places in Indonesia.
After a short descent we found ourselves crossing the Sea of Sand. A vast open area covered in volcano ashes. In the distance the mighty Mount Bromo and Mount Batok were covered in mist. Joanna: “To give you a more detailed description of where we were standing, the Sea of Sand is the crater of an old, enourmous, unactive volcano where 5 other volcanos (including active Mount Bromo) were born.”
What an amazing experience that was. Walking towards the volcanos surrounded by an out of this world, deserted landscape with no one around, only a few motorcycles on the distance... Joanna's reaction: “Mad Max!”
Climbing the stairs to the rim of Mount Bromo's crater
A little over half an hour later we arrived at the temple at the base of Mount Bromo. From there, the ascent to the rim starts. It's an easy hike up but everything is covered in a thick layer of volcano dust which makes it difficult to walk. Along the way locals asked us if we'd like to go up on horse but we politely declined. As often the case, animals used in the tourist business are not well kept and our feet were working just fine.
A hundred or more stairs up to the highest point and we arrived. That first look into the crater was amazing. Clouds of steam and sulphur rose up from beneath and then there was that deep roaring sound that came from deep within the crater. “I think Satan lives there.” was the first thing I said when hearing that sound. We felt really small at that moment witnessing Mother Nature at it's best...
Only a handful of people were at the top. Our plan of leaving in the afternoon turned out great. We enjoyed the might of Mount Bromo and the magnificent views for half an hour before going down again... After all, that night, we would get up at 3:00 am to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo from one of the viewpoints...
How to get to Mount Bromo: Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang
Tours start from Probolinggo and even Surubaya but we recommend just doing it independently. It's super easy and saves you a lot of money.
From Probolinggo, just take a Grab Taxi to the bus station where the minivans wait for Cemoro Lawang, the closest town to Mount Bromo. The vans wait next to the bus station and you just have to wait until they fill up with 15 people. A ticket will cost you 35.000 Rupiah.
Alternatively, you can hire the whole van for 525.000 Rupiah and divide the cost. The more people, the cheaper it gets. I tried to haggle down but our driver didn't want to go for less than 500.000.
The free path to see Mount Bromo: The villager's trail
You can either take the main road to the entrance and pay the entrance fee or find the villager's trail to go to Bromo. It's located behind the Cemara Indah hotel. Here's a detailed description of how to get there. Don’ worry, you can’t get lost.
Where to stay in Cemoro Lawang
Rahayu Guesthouse • €20 - €30 / night
All guesthouses and hotels are totally overpriced for what you get. Finding a nice place to stay in Cemoro Lawang is difficult. We stayed in Rahayu Guesthouse and expecting the worst we were surprised that it wasn't that bad at all. The rooms were clean and we even had warm water for one minute!
WARNING: The map on booking.com says this guesthouse is not in Cemoro Lawang but in Ngadisari, one town further away from Bromo. This is NOT true. Rahayu Guesthouse is definitely in Cemoro Lawang and you pretty much can't get a better located guesthouse. The start of the trail is just a few minutes walking.