Mount Bromo is one of the most amazing experiences that I have had while traveling. Being that close to such powerful nature was an unreal experience. However, because it is such an extraordinary sight and not to be missed, Indonesians capitalize on this. They I almost make it impossible for you to see without a Jeep tour…almost. Here is my guide to help you visit amazing Mount Bromo for free:
To start out you have to find your way to the town of Probolinggo. The easiest way to get here is by taking a bus from Malang – a city totally worth spending some time exploring. My friend and I left Malang first thing in the morning and the bus to Probolinggo was easy-peasy.
However, Probolinggo is where things start to get tricky. First off, they will drop you off at a ‘bus stop.’ This is really just a tourist office trying to sell you package. We told the guy trying to sell us a tour that we weren’t interested but still had to wait there for an hour until a mini bus picked us up to take us Cemoro Lawang (the town at the base of Bromo). The only thing is that after a two-minute drive – yes, two-minute – the bus stopped at the real bus stop to wait for more people. When we asked how long we would be waiting the driver said that he didn’t know. Great.
An hour later we were still waiting and still given the same answer. After interrogating the bus driver he eventually told us that the bus would not leave until it was full with fifteen people. Since we were visiting during low season fifteen people wouldn’t show up until about 5:30 p.m. Since we had gotten up early in the morning, keen to get to Bromo, we were not happy campers.
After five more hours of frustrated waiting in a town with absolutely nothing to do, more people eventually turned up. These people had actually been staying at the same hostel as us in Malang- and were in a way better mood than us. They had spent the earlier part of their day exploring Malang, then jumped on a bus and were able to get on the same mini bus as us up to Cemoro Lawang. I guess the early bird doesn’t catch the worm in Indonesia.
If you are also coming during low season don’t plan on arriving to Probolinggo until later in the day. Worst day ever. During high season you will probably have better luck.
An alternative is to walk away from the bus terminal and try to pay a local to take you up the mountain to Cemoro Lawang. If you do decide to do this, make sure you are far away from the bus terminal when trying to catch a ride. Nobody will pick you up in front of the bus terminal it since there are issues with locals taking business away from the buses.
Once you reach Cemoro Lawang there will be many local Guest Houses to stay in. Basically, every person in Cemoro Lawang has an empty place for you crash so you will have no issues trying to find a place. There is only one hostel, Lave Cafe, and this is also the only place that you can find wi-fi that I know of.
Okay – so now that you are finally settled in it is time to prepare for your hike. Here is a step-by-step guide:
Hiking Mount Bromo
Wake up and get dressed.
Start walking to the view-point using Maps.Me as a guide. A headlamp is a must since you will be walking in the dark. We took the pathway through the fields and stayed off of the road to avoid being seen to avoid having to pay the entrance fee of 210, 000 rupees. Success!
The hike up wasn’t too difficult and was really fun in the dark – especially if you are with a group of people. The stars at night are amazing! It was worth getting up just for the incredible starry view.
Settle in for sunrise. There are many sunrise points along the way for you to stop at to watch the sunrise.
I ended up going to View Point #2 and then walking up the hill just behind it to get away from all the people. This point was a bit higher up and provided a better view of Mount Bromo, but less view of the sunrise. However, the sunrise was still visible only there were no people in the way so it was a lot more calm, peaceful and enjoyable.
If you want to go higher up King Kong is a popular view-point. This view-point is about a 20-30 minute walk from View Point #2. It will be tricky to get there in the dark since it is very steep; and there will definitely be a lot more people since the view from there is amazing.
Sit in peace as you watch the sun come up and expose the amazing landscape of active volcanoes.
Spend a little more time enjoying the view to wait for all the Jeeps drive off with the tourists.
After you have finished soaking in the amazing landscape, continue up the mountain to the higher viewpoints – stopping along the way for a selfie or two.
Once you reach the top you have two options. The first option is to head back down the mountain and then walk across the sandy ash land to Mount Bromo. The second option is for your if you want more of a hike – this is what me and my group of friends ended up doing. We decided to walk along the top of the mountain, eventually making our way back down to meet up with the road that the Jeeps use to take all the tourists to Mount Bromo.
For the second option we veered off the paved road when possible to walk through the mountain trails. Sometimes there were no trails at all and so we had to do some bush-waking. We always ended back to the road though The bush-waking offered a more interesting hike and it was also a short cut since the road winds all around the mountain.
We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant we came across – okay, it was breakfast but felt more like lunch since we had already been up for about six hours at this point. I was totally surprised that they would have a restaurant up there! However, they don’t speak any English so I hope that you are not a picky eater.
Once we finished eating, we continued down the road. After the lunch spot there were no more option to walk besides the road. It was very steep at times – so those of you with bad knees be careful! In total the hike from the Viewpoint down the road took about three hours at a leisurely pace.
Walk Across the Landscape of Volcanic Ash
This part was really interesting – you feel like you are on a different planet! I have walked on sand, rocks, mud…but never volcanic ash (okay sorta that one time when I went volcano boarding in Nicaragua). By the time that you make your way down to this terrain, it will be barren because all the Jeeps full of tourists will be gone. Right after sunrise the jeeps drive people to Mount Bromo, quickly drop them off, and then drive them back. Since there is nobody around, there will also be no people to check tickets by the time that you arrive at Mount Bromo. Woo hoo!
Summit Mount Bromo
I couldn’t believe my eyes when we were finally walking up to the ferocious volcano. The effort that we made to get to this volcano made it all that much more epic. If you were driven here there wouldn’t be much work involved in earning this experience.
When we arrived at Mount Bromo it was actually a quick walk up – especially compared to our already long adventure. As you walk up Mount Bromo you can hear to volcano boiling and sense it’s power.
After about a fifteen minute walk you get to a steep staircase that takes you up to the crater. Because we arrived later in the day (and by late I mean 12 p.m.) there were barely any people around, giving us the volcano to ourselves! .
When you first step onto the rim of the crater there is a small railing, a few meters long, separating you from falling into the volcanoes crater – and that is about all when it comes to safety precautions.. Even standing behind the railing is such a powerful experience and for some people it can feel overwhelming – especially if you have a fear of heights. Even if you don’t have a fear of heights I am sure that you have a fear of falling into an active volcano!
Don’t let your fear take this beautiful moment away from you. The beauty and power of the volcano suddenly energized my exhausted body and I felt an exciting surge of energy. I love living on the edge – and I was literally on the edge!
With my new surge of energy I left the comfort of the ‘safety railing’ and continued to walk along the path around the rim of the crater. There was no railing here and it exhilarated me even more. One false step and I could plunge into the depths the volcano.
This danger excited me and filled me with adrenaline. I started running.
I didn’t plan on going too far away from safety but I was overtaken by an overwhelming desire to go farther and farther. I made it up to a high peak on the crater that had a sharp drop. Just being there was terrifying.
I wanted to see over the edge but the drop down into the smoking volcano terrified me. I got down on my hands and knees and slowly crawled over, peeking over the edge. Once I took a few deep breaths I managed to build up the courage to slowly stand up. I tilted my body forward and peak over the edge into the fiery depths.
As you can imagine I felt very small in this moment, and as you can see in this picture – I looked it.
I was tempted to walk all the way around the crater but since none of my friends had the courage to do it, I would have been alone. The smoke from the volcano blocked the other side so no one would be able to see if I really did fall in. I guess at that point there would be no saving me anyway – but it still deterred me from wandering away on my own.
This was a spectacular experience and was an inspiring ending to a long but wonderful day.
We walked back to our guesthouse along the ashy sand, reflecting on this spectacular experience and inspiring ending to a long but perfect day.
The walk back to town is only about 45 minutes. Once you arrive you will walk past the ‘bus stop’ with the mini bus and you can ask if it is going back down to Probolinggo (they will go down if they have enough people to make money). If not you can spend an extra night to rest and leave in the morning.
How to Get to Mount Bromo from Malang
- Take a taxi van to Arjosari Bus Station (5, 000 rupees)
- Take a bus to Probolingo (20, 000 rupees)
- Jump in a Mini van to Cemoro Lawang (35, 000 if full with 15 people)