Climbing Mount Bromo : The alternative backpacking route
To get to Mount Bromo, you have to get to the base village which is Cemero Lawang. It is possible to get there via Bus and it is cheap. However, you have to make many changes. This is okay if you have time. From the airport, make your way to Bondowoso bus station and head to Probolinggo. From Probolinggo, you can take an Angkot to Cemoro Lawang. It should cost around 30,000 IDR. From my research, the yellow colour small vans are the Angkot to bring you. However, the issue is that it takes around 5 hours to get to Probolinggo. Most of the flights from SG-Surabaya reach around 12pm. By the time you reach Probolinggo, it would be hard to find an Angkot to bring you to Cemero Lawang, or you have to find a taxi, which increases the cost of the trip. Therefore, it would be advisable to just take a Taxi straight to Cemero Lawang because you reach there in 4 hours and it is not too expensive especially if you have people to split the cost with. To make the timing of a weekend trip, that would be the best. No matter how you go, NEVER EVER PAY for the entrance fee if they happen to bring you there. Luckily for us Esti was awake, so we just walked away when the taxi brought us there and tried to trick us into paying the entrance fee. You do not have to pay for the entrance fee before you climb Bromo, as there is no entrance fee for entering Cemero Lawang, only an entrance fee for BROMO itself(which can be avoided).
The all famous view of Mount Bromo is actually taken from a viewpoint off Mount Penanjakan. In fact, there are 2 viewpoints on Mount Penanjakan. Most tours will pick you up in the morning, where you chug along in a jeep to the viewpoint cramped with all the other people waiting for the sunrise, before being ushered down to Mount Bromo. However, it is possible to do it by yourself, without having to pay money for all of that. Here is a reliable picture of the area. It is taken from the ever-useful wikitravel page which has almost everything you need to know for Mount Bromo.
Difficulty of Mount Penanjakan Climb : Easy, till you breathe in the toxic gases on the road.
To make it for sunrise, give yourself at least 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on your speed. Sunrise in Indonesia is around 4:30am, so setting off at 2:30am is about just nice.
Before we set off, as it was my first time there, I did ask around as well as do a slight walk to make sure I knew my way around in the dark. Most of the locals there will not advise you to walk, saying that it is slippery, or dangerous, or offer their services as a guide for a very steep price. It is really not needed. It is frankly an extremely easy route.
The route is as mentioned, make sure to turn right from Cemera Indah Hostel ( The expensive grand looking hostel) and walk down the road all the way, till you cross the bridge and you will reach this part with short steps and it is viewpoint 1. It is a very peaceful walk most of the time, because almost nobody will be walking up. If the sky is clear, you should able to see the stars as there is little light pollution. On the way there, there might be a few vehicles, but mainly you will see people with horses asking you if you want a lift. If you’re going on the same path as them you can be assured it is correct.
To get from viewpoint 1 to viewpoint 2 is slightly confusing. From Viewpoint 1, when you face out, just look up at the grass/hill area(should be on the right side), that is where you need to go, up. There is a very small trail you must find and just follow. It splits slightly at the start but after that there is only one trail up. Luckily for us, there were some locals walking down to set up some stalls so we managed to find the way.
You will basically just go zig-zag up, and soon you will hear some sounds, and reach a pavement, but it isn’t viewpoint 2 yet. However, it is possible to view Mount Bromo from there and it is less crowded.
Continue going forward, and you will reach a road where it is a chore to go up because you will see how horrendous tourism is. The number of Jeeps and motorbikes parked along side, breathing in the gasoline, and being one of the few people walking up, coughing and being annoyed at the constant touting as well as honking. You will know viewpoint 2 when you finally reach it, as it is preceded by numerous stalls selling souvenirs, food, and some corn, and a whole bunch of tourists camped just waiting for that moment in sunrise. My advice? Get the corn, choose a juicy one, sit back and relax.
Most of the tourists are part of a tour have a guide so they will leave within an hour. If it happens to be cloudy, like what happened to us, my suggestion is for you to stay till around 9am. So what happened was that we reached at 4+am, got turned off by the crowd, realized it was too misty, so we went down to chill at the benches, before going back up to the viewpoint and decided to stay for 4 hours. Why 9am? No idea, we just took a nap there. It was a pretty good nap!
The clouds clear around that time, hopefully. Of course, weather in the mountain is unpredictable. From my experience in hiking, I notice that there is a slight chance from 8-9 in the morning period where the clouds might start to clear. Just like it tends to rain more often in the afternoon/11am onwards. Don’t take my word on that! Anything can happen on the mountains. So pray, and good things might happen.The mist/fog stayed until 8:30am, where we were about to leave, before it suddenly cleared! We started screaming and jumping around and laughing those who didn’t persevere! It was seriously crazy cause I had no idea what made us stay, just on a whim. If i was alone, I wouldn’t have done it most likely. We were just really lucky. On that note, sunrise is overrated if you don’t get to see it.
Once done, make your way down (either via hiking, or take a ojek down). Transport options get lesser as the crowd thins, so if you stay till 9am, there will be very few options left. If you walk, simply follow the map as above. There is a pathway behind Cemera Indah Hostel, which basically goes zigzag down into the sand. Going on the ojek is the choice as you save time plus they will bring you to some other viewpoints for you. You can easily skip the entrance fee as there are many ways in. They will bring you to another route rather than back to Cemoro Lawang, the route is actually pretty amazing as you go downhill.
Mount Bromo is quite an amazing sight, especially the sea of sand. The walk up itself takes only 20-30 minutes.
Difficulty of Bromo : Easy, except slow because of the volcanic ash.
If you stay for too long, the ash particles might get annoying, or at least it got annoying for me such that I started coughing and feeling uncomfortable.
You can choose to walk one round around the crater, which might be more fun that just standing around. Ash is however, slightly annoying to trudge on. Make sure you have a mask/bandana to protect against the billowing ash as the winds are very strong. It is also very easy to get sunburnt as you will not feel the sun. Especially if you are there at like 11am, like us. We got so burnt that we peeled for a week. Of course if you are there early with a tour it wouldn’t matter.
From there, you can choose to walk back to the village which isn’t very far (45 minutes), or you can be lazy and take another ojek back. One thing you can do is actually ask the ojek to bring you around the sea of sand, because it is a very big area around Mount Bromo. However, this can simply be covered if you go to Malang.