Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members unless stated otherwise)
“Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.”-John Ruskin
Situated inside Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, sandwiched between Mount Batok, Watangan, Kursi, Widodaren and Mount Semeru at East Java, Indonesia, Mount Bromo is said to be the most iconic and the most hiked mountain in Indonesia. Standing at at 2329 m, it’s a combination of both beautiful and danger, since it is an active volcano! Though not the highest peak in Indonesia, this mountain is still worth visiting. Erupted for few times, the recent was in November 2015, people do keep coming to this place for its amazing view, perhaps once in a lifetime ‘thing to do’. And so did we. We carefully planned the trip to Surabaya-Malang-Bromo, with one main objective, to see with our own eyes, the beauty of Mount Bromo.
Depending on your itinerary, getting to Bromo will need you to start your journey from Surabaya, Malang or Banyuwangi. In Surabaya (Juanda International Airport), there is an International Airport while in Malang (Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport) is the domestic airport. While there is one domestic airport in Banyuwangi (Blimbingsari Airport), most travelers heading to Bromo from this point are actually from Bali, taking the ferry, crossing the strait to Java Island. While traveling on low budget is not impossible (for trekking purpose), it is best if you opt for the Tour Service. The Tour Company will arrange everything for you, picking you up from the airport and sending you to your preferred destination.
Most Tour Companies have no problem in picking you up at any of the 3 airports mentioned above. Do note that those opting to arrive at Banyuwangi normally planning to visit the famous Kawah Ijen. Some Tour Companies are willing to take you for lengthy tours from Bali up to Borobudur! All you need to do is to choose wisely which Tour Company is good for your plan. For the two of us, we started our journey from Surabaya city. We took a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Juanda International Airport. We chose Surabaya as we needed to explore Surabaya City. We were arranged by Wisata Bromo. Our first destination was Bromo followed by Malang and Surabaya City itself before returning to Kuala Lumpur.
Are you an adventurous traveler and need to arrange the tour by yourself? No worries, here is one great guide from another blogger, Katarina. Read her entry about her trip with her friends to Bromo (on budget, without tour arrangement)
The Journey to Bromo
We arrived at Juanda International Airport after 2pm. Our initial plan was to stay a night at Malang but somehow our driver advised us that we should go to Bromo first. It was a last minute change. We were all right with the suggestion as we trusted our Driver cum Guide, Shamsul. Mid-way, we stopped at one local restaurant, Warung iPang, located near to Tol Sidoarjo. The place is kind of R&R with many eateries around and we had our ‘Ayam Penyer Set’ at Warung iPang. Great recommendation by Shamsul as the meals were delicious.
Ayam Penyet Set
It took us about 3 hours from Surabaya Airport to our Hotel in Bromo, Bromo Permai 1. Though not a luxury hotel, it has almost everything that travelers need. The Hotel is located exactly at the front of Bromo area main entrance that gives guests the amazing view of Bromo and its surrounding. If you opt to stay at Malang, you will need to start your journey from your hotel as early as 10 pm. Since we stayed at Bromo Permai 1, we only prepared ourselves almost to 3 am, as our other guide/driver, Wes, came to our room and ushered us to the Jeep, our ride to Penanjakan View Point.
@Hotel Bromo Permai 1
Mount Bromo is an active volcano that belongs to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.Its name originated from Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu creator god. Bromo is located in the middle “Sea of Sand” (Javanese: Segara Wedi or Indonesian: Lautan Pasir), which is a protected nature reserve since 1919. The usual way to visit Mount Bromo is from the nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang. From there it is possible to walk to the volcano in about 45 minutes.
Penanjakan View Point
It is also possible to take an organised jeep tour, which includes a stop at the viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan (2,770 m), in Indonesian language ;Gunung Penanjakan. The viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan can also be reached on foot in about two hours. Tengger Caldera is a result of a grand volcanic disaster that occurred millions of years ago. Five volcanoes of the volcanic complex (Batok, Watangan, Kursi, Widodaren, and Bromo) are surrounded by a sea of sand and ash formed after the destruction of a huge volcano. Bromo volcano is popular perhaps to its easy availability.
Bromo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Its top was destroyed after the eruption, so now it has such a strange shape with a disproportionately large crater diameter (600 meters). Adjacent to Bromo is Mount Batok (2440 m), an extinct volcano of an almost perfect shape, covered with vegetation. Semeru volcano (3676 m) is the highest point of Java. It’s in a constant state of explosive activity during the last 6 years.
Penanjakan View Point
It was extremely cold at 3 am. Wes told us that we may go and have some hot coffee before heading to Penanjakan View Point, getting that perfect spot to view the sunrise. There were so many people with one common thing, we’re all were wearing thick clothing. Do note that due to extreme cold weather, one will need some extra layer be it jackets or sweater. If you happen to not bring anything for that freezing temperature, you can always rent or buy em’. There are many sellers offering from gloves to thick jackets, so no worries if you are traveling light! Thick clothing are needed at least until 6-7 am only and you don’t need that any longer when you head down to scale the 250 steps of Bromo.
Some travelers enjoying hot coffee/tea before heading to Penanjakan View Point
One need not to be physically fit for this particular activity (Bromo Trip). We both personally think that elders with disability and young children will not be able to cope with the long journey on the road plus walking. For example, if your Jeep arrives pretty late at Penanjakan, there will be no parking space nearby and your driver might have to drop you and your entourage some 2 km away. Luckily we were early and we got the first parking available, right at the entrance which is nearer to the shops and more steps to the view point area. We strongly recommend those with asthma or breathing problems not to join this particular trip. The air is a bit thin and since it is cold in the wee hours, those with asthma will have difficulty to continue the journey. There will be more walking part at Bromo!
After some hot drinks, we went to the View Point and already there were so many people, patiently waiting since 4 am for the sunrise! It’s quite impossible to get comfortable viewing area unless your guide knows how to locate one, which our guide did! For more exclusive viewing (front row), you need to be here as early as 3 am where all people are busy with their coffee and tea. Wes managed to find for us one good spot and we stood there from 4 am! As early as 5 am, sunrise begins….
The Sunrise sequence
The sunrise seen from Penanjakan View Point is amazing! Breathtaking scenery that will make people around quite, enjoying that rare view (for most!). Let’s have a look at the sequence of the sunrise, captured by our lenses.
The View & Selfies!
When the Sun is up, everything around Bromo becomes so clear. One will need to wait until 7 am or so for the cloud to vanish, we didn’t wait until that long as we need to be closer to Bromo, so headed down, back to our jeep. Still, we did get some amazing photos of Bromo, seen from Penanjakan View Point.
At the very front is Mount Batok. The smokey mountain is Mount Bromo and further up is Mount Semeru.
Our Candid Photos
The Colors of Penanjakan View Point
We did not realize that there were so many visitors until when it’s clear enough to see our surroundings. Hundreds of people were around since 3 am and actually more coming as some prefer to be here when there are not so many people. Everyone were trying their very best to get the best shots of Bromo. When it was time for us to get back to our Jeep, we passed through some vendors and their colorful products.
We are not sure what these items were, we didn’t ask. Perhaps it is for decoration but we both did not buy as it will be a hassle to bring it back home! Beautiful decorations though!
Here is the arch or shall we say the main entrance/exit of Penanjakan View Point. Most people were going down, back to their transport that will take them closer to Bromo.
Part of Penanjakan View Point. At 3 am this ‘Gazebo’ is sure pack with visitors!
The pathway going to the parking area…
Mid-way, @Lan bought some Banana Fritters or Pisang Goreng as he was hungry!
..and then there’s sea of people, some leaving and some just arrived!
It’s time to have memento with our dirver/guide..Wes (Middle) Yup, that’s our Red Jeep!
On our way down from Penanjakan View Point to Mount Bromo area, the road was packed with Jeeps, people and motorbikes. Visitors may opt to ride on the bikes, Ojek as they called it, for minimum charge (some people actually hike or walk from the base, Ojek will surely help them to move faster). People were seen walking quite a distance as their Jeeps were parked further away.
This conclude part 1, our experience at Penanjakan View Point. In part 2, we will reveal our amazing experience at different geographical settings around Mount Bromo, here is a teaser/spoiler….
Hope you are inspired and will soon visit Bromo!