Hiking an active volcano is a special experience. Mount Bromo hike is one of the easiest active volcano hikes in Indonesia, that allows you to see (and hear!) the rumbling earth in the middle of the crater. Find out how to organize the Mount Bromo hike and the trip for the Mount Bromo sunrise on your own to avoid crowds and save money.
Table of contents:
1. Mount Bromo
2.3 Cemoro Lawang
Mount Bromo – active volcano in Indonesia
Bromo is an active volcano, located in East Java, in Indonesia, inside the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Mount Bromo sunrise and a hike to the volcano are the typical postcards views from Indonesia. And it’s no wonder why, as the view is breathtaking. Unfortunately, many people already have realized that, making Mount Bromo one of the most popular tourist attractions in East Java, Indonesia. The massif, where the Bromo volcano belongs to is one of the most visited places on the island.
Bromo volcano is famous not only from its active caldera but also from a spectacular sunrise that you can watch above the valley. In fact, the Mount Bromo sunrise lookout points have an overview of three different volcanoes that are located next to each other. The view is really beautiful and worth an early start. But… because the sunrise over Bromo is so popular it can also get incredibly crowded. Like incredibly.
I know, I know, it can be a bit discouraging and I thought exactly the same when I’ve first heard about it. Luckily, there is a very simple way to enjoy the beautiful Mount Bromo hike on your own without the crowds and to see a beautiful sunrise above the massif for free, without the need of a tour. My tips below help you to have an intimate and peaceful hike to the top of Mount Bromo, help to save you a lot of money and also allow you to choose the best sunrise (and sunset!) viewing spot.
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How to organize Mount Bromo hike without the tour and with no crowds?
During our 10 day Indonesia trip we managed to visit beautiful Bali, paradise Gili islands, climb fascinating Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java and organize the Mount Bromo hike with a sunrise on our own. If we managed it with no problems, you can do it too. You really don’t need a tour for that.
If you are traveling in Indonesia, you can easily combine the visit to Bromo with an amazing hike to Ijen volcano. Both of the hikes can be done in 3 days (or 2 days with a push). For details on how to climb Ijen volcano in the best way follow my Kawah Ijen hike guide.
During our Indonesian trip, we were coming back from the direction of Bali, after doing the night hike to Ijen volcano. You can do the same trip, or the other way round. You can find our 10 days Indonesia itinerary here for a better overview. We chose the route to Mount Bromo through Probolinggo, as it’s the easiest to get there by public transport.
#1 How to get from Kawah Ijen (or Bali) to Mount Bromo
If you climbed Kawah Ijen crater earlier, there’s a high chance that you would want to also visit Bromo. Two volcanoes can be connected by one trip and you don’t need a private tour for that.
After you come back to Banyuwangi (Karangasem) town from Ijen hike, take a train from there to Probolinggo. If you come from Bali, you can take the same train and follow my route from here.
There are normally morning and afternoon trains. If you plan to take a morning train, I recommend to book it in advance online, as they can get pretty full. We took an afternoon train to be able to have some rest in between. The train ride takes around 2 hours and it’s a great opportunity to watch the changing scenery and people in the train.
Probolinggo is one of the biggest towns close to Bromo, where you can get by train. There is not much to see in Probolinggo itself, so just stay there for the night resting after climbing Ijen or go straight from there to the number 2 on the list. Or you can wander around and look for food markets. We found one on the way back when waiting for our train to Surabaya. Yum!
Where to stay in Probolinggo?
We didn’t have the best experience in the hostel, that we chose, so I am not going to recommend it here. It’s good to either stay close to the train station, where you arrive or to the bus station where you leave from. You can try one of those hostels instead, they have a good location and good reviews:
#3 Cemoro Lawang
The next step in your journey to Bromo volcano is to get from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang. Cemoro Lawang is a small town in the mountains, located at the base for Mount Bromo hike and a Bromo sunrise trip. The journey from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang takes around 2h along the windy roads and it’s very picturesque.
How to get to Cemoro Lawang from Probolinggo?
There are several ways of getting to Cemoro Lawang. The best and cheapest option is to take a bemo (a public bus). There is also an option for a taxi or a motorbike. I even tried hitch-hiking but it didn’t quite work there.
#1 Take a bemo
The cheapest way to get to Cemoro Lawang is to take a public bus, called bemo. There are several bemos going from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang every day. But there is a catch.
The bemos leave only when full. Bemo can fit around 15 people and it normally waits until at least 10 people gather up, so the driver can earn some money on the transport.
Sometimes, if there is a lot of people waiting, they can leave quite quickly. Other times, it means waiting for hours for more people to arrive.
You have the option of waiting or you can also pay for the empty seats. You need to calculate if this would make sense for you, as otherwise, you can another way of transport. Very often travellers, who don’t want to waste a lot of time waiting for more passengers, buy the empty seats. The entire vehicle (15 seats) costs 450,000 rupiahs (1 seat is 30 000 rupiahs). It’s probably not the best practice as it teaches the drivers to wait for tourists so they can pay for every seat, but it works if you don’t want to spend the whole day on the bus stop. We were waiting for 1,5h with 3 other people and then we decided to pay outstanding amount and leave.
If you don’t want to pay for the empty seats, try to arrive earlier in the day as then it’s easier to fill the bus with passengers. If you arrive later in the afternoon, you will have very little chances for the bus to fill up.
Bemos depart from the place near the main bus station in Probolinggo called Terminal Bayuangga (but not from the station itself). You need to go along the road after you pass the fence to the station and you will see some bemos waiting by the road. There are many local shops and cafes there. If you look on Google Maps, it actually has a name as “Public Mini Bus Bromo”
#2 Take a taxi
Another (not a budget) option is to take a taxi. You will frequently hear the taxi drivers offering you a ride when you wait for bemo to depart.
#3 Take ojek/motorbike
We’ve also got offered a transport by the motorbike or ojek (which is a seat at the back of the motorbike). We were two people, so we didn’t go for it. It’s worth to keep in mind that the way to Cemoro Lawang is quite long (2h in a car) and the roads are windy. The motorbike ride might be very uncomfortable, long and even dangerous. I do not recommend it.
*From some other reports, I’ve heard that some people were charged 10k IDR for the entry to Cemoro Lawang. However, we didn’t need to pay anything.
Where to stay in Cemoro Lawang?
I can recommend staying closer to the hiking route to Bromo and close to the path leading to the sunrise viewpoint.
We stayed in Wisma Yog Bromo Homestay. For 386 479 IDR you can get a double room with the shared bathroom, but no breakfast. We had some good food in the warung nearby. Wisma Yog is one of the closest hostels to the non-official, but the widely used route to climb the Bromo crater.
Alternatively, you can choose located next door, Cemara Indah hotel, which has a better standard and is also a great start for Mount Bromo hike and departure point for the Bromo sunrise.
Read more: How to pack light + packing list perfect for Asia
Mount Bromo hike
After arriving in Cemoro Lawang, you can leisurely climb the Mount Bromo crater and admire the active volcano with no crowds.
Mount Bromo is 2,329 meters high, but the hike to the top of the crater is not a difficult one. From the Wisma Yog hotel, where we stayed, it takes around 45 minutes one way. You can easily walk there, no need to take a jeep or the horse. Please, do not take those poor horses.
There is a set of steep steps leading to the top of the Mount Bromo crater, but they are not overly difficult.
Mount Bromo is an active volcano, with recent eruptions happening in 2004, 2010, 2011 and 2015. Therefore always check before travelling what is the current situation.
The landscape looks like from another planet. The experience at the top of Bromo volcano is also very special – you can hear the inside of the Earth. The sound coming from the middle of the volcano reminds me of the sound of a starting plane. It was my first time hiking the active volcano and it was a great experience.
The Sea of Sand
The Bromo volcano lies in the middle of the big plain, which is called the Sea of Sand. It’s a big area, that looks like a desert and it’s filled with the fine volcanic sand from the previous eruptions of Mount Bromo. In order to reach Mount Bromo, you need to cross the Sea of Sand. On the way to the volcano, you’ll also pass a Hindu temple.
Mount Bromo hike without the crowds
The secret to the Mount Bromo hike without the crowds is to go for a hike in the afternoon or late morning when all the organized tours leave.
That’s it! Easy, right? 😉
The typical itinerary for the Mount Bromo organized tour is as follows. First, they drive for the Mount Bromo sunrise to one of the famous viewpoints like King Kong Hill. After the sunrise, all the tours go together for Mount Bromo hike to the crater. They pass through the Park gate which is located somewhere at the beginning of the Sea of Sand. That’s where they normally need to pay the foreigner entrance fee of 220,000 IDR on weekdays or 320,000 IDR on weekends & holidays. We haven’t seen that gate and we’ve been told that there is rarely someone there in the afternoon anyway. I guess they make all their money from the insane amount of tours in the morning.
Then, everyone from the organized Mount Bromo tours goes up the crater.
You can imagine the number of people that are there at the same time – insane. It is not enjoyable and not very safe, either. We were watching the jeeps driving up the hill to the sunrise and it was a never-ending line of cars. Hundreds and hundreds of cars were going to one single place at the same time. I don’t know about you, but for me, this is far from enjoyable and just sounds like a nightmare. That’s what we wanted to avoid. And it worked!
When you go to do the Mount Bromo hike after all of the tours leave, it’s only you, rumbling volcano and a few of other people. Great experience!
Follow these steps for the free Mount Bromo hike without the crowds:
1. Find the local entrance to the Mount Bromo Park.
The entrance is non-official one and it’s used by the local horseman. It’s located on the right side at the back of the Cemara Indah hotel (which is just next to Wisma Yog Homestay). There’s a security booth for the hotel just next to it, but when we walked around several times, nobody told us anything. The hotel is located on the hill, so the path takes you straight down to the Sea of sands. You can clearly see the volcano from the top of the hill, next to the hotel, and you can also easily see it when you reach the Sea of Sands, so you will not have any problems with navigation. Walk to the crater from there should take up to an hour.
2. Cross the Sea of Sand in the direction of the volcano. There are some paths you can take, but really it’s just the massive area full of volcanic ash, so you can just cut through and direct yourself towards the volcano on the horizon.
3. On the way, you will pass by the Hindu temple. It was closed when we were there.
4. Pass on the left side from the temple and go towards the left, where you can see a small Bromo crater. The path up the Mount Bromo crater goes uphill and then closer to the crater it changes into the set of steep steps. It is not difficult at all.
5. From the top of the volcano, you have the amazing views of the surrounding area and other 2 volcanoes inside the Bromo massif. You can also clearly see inside the crater. Sometimes the sulfur cloud can be quite thick and the rumbling of the volcano is very loud. The sensation is just crazy!
6. After the Mount Bromo hike, go to sleep early as you need to wake up for another sunrise.
Tip: Take something to protect your eyes and mouth, as well as the camera from dust. If there is even a little bit of wind, the dust will be everywhere.
How to find the best place for the Mount Bromo sunrise?
There are several different hills on each side of Cemoro Lawang town, that are good for watching the Mount Bromo sunrise. It’s just a matter of finding the best one for you and avoiding the crowds.
We decided to walk to the closest hill, where we found a perfect spot.
In order to catch the Mount Bromo sunrise on time, start hiking early. If you stay close to Cemara Indah Hotel, do not leave later than 3 am. We started even earlier, as I wanted to take some night photos before the sunrise.
- Start at Cemara Indah Hotel. It’s the same place where you passed the day before when going down to the Sea of Sand and then hiking to Mount Bromo.
- From there, follow the road up the mountain. On the night of our climb it was entirely dark, so we could barely see our surroundings. From time to time there was only a motorbike passing us by. It’s good to have a torch handy.
- After around an hour, you will see the first lookout point for the Mount Bromo sunrise with locals preparing food and tea for tourists. It’s located on the bend of the road. You can see the volcano from there, but the view is a bit obstructed by the trees, so I recommend going further on.
- After 15 minutes, you will get to another lookout point, which is called Seruni viewpoint. You will recognize it immediately from the concrete platforms. The best viewing point for the Mount Bromo sunrise is located on top of those platforms. We were thinking about hiking further, but the view from where we were was really good (see photos), so we stayed. If you climb to the roof, which is not difficult, you will have a comfortable sitting position. Closer to the sunrise, the place got really crowded, but our spot was still with the best view. In my opinion, there is no point of hiking more and you can settle on the top of the roof in Seruni point for the best view without any obstacles.
- There are also other lookout points further on the way. The famous one is the viewpoint at Mount Penanjakan 1 and 2. It is, however, usually crowded and full of jeeps, as they can drive all the way up. I do not recommend going there. We were observing hundreds and hundreds of jeeps driving through the Sea of Sand at night to get to that viewpoint for the sunrise. You also have an option of walking to the viewpoint called King Kong Hill and Love Hill.
After the sunrise go back to the hotel and catch a bus back to Probolinggo. It’s the same story that was on the way there, so the bemos only leave when there are enough people. However, it is much easier to fill them up, as many people come back to town after the sunrise. From Probolinggo you can get a train to Surabaya. There is an airport in Surabaya with connecting flights to Jakarta.
Read more: How to plan a perfect trip to Asia?
Not fussed about Mount Bromo sunrise? Try the sunset instead!
Honestly, although I always prefer sunrises, mainly for their tranquility and peacefulness of the waking up world, when it comes to Mount Bromo, I would recommend the sunset instead. Everyone knows how crazy the Mount Bromo sunrise is, so if you want to entirely avoid the whole hassle of waking up at night, walking to the viewpoint and still being surrounded by other people, then you can just sleep in and watch the sunset in the evening. The sunset can be viewed from many places, even in the center of Cemoro Lawang town.
We found a nice spot, where they were also selling Bakso (Indonesian type of meatballs), so we had dinner with a view. This lookout point is located just in the town center. On the junction coming from Cemara Indah Hotel, you need to turn right and follow the road up. After a few minutes, you will see a big square with a view to Mount Bromo. You can walk a bit further, taking the path to the left, in a direction to the grassy hill, where you can have an even better view. It can also be a good Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint, but I expect it to be crowded as there is another hotel just next to it.
Key info for the Mount Bromo hike and sunrise
- You can easily do Mount Bromo hike with no crowds and for free. You can also go for the Mount Bromo sunrise view for free and with fewer people than when you choose an organized tour.
- Cemoro Lawang is the town at the base of Mount Bromo.
- Mount Bromo entrance fee is 220,000 IDR on weekdays, 320,000 IDR on weekends & holidays for foreigners, but it’s often not collected in the afternoon and the gate is located far from the route described above.
- There are several hills on every side of Cemoro Lawang town, good to watch the Bromo sunrise. Don’t go where everyone else goes.
- Stay in the hotel which is located close to the route for Mount Bromo hike and the sunrise path. I can recommend a budget option Wisma Yog or mid-range Cemara Indah Hotel.
- Consider doing sunset instead of sunrise for a quieter experience.
- Enjoy the beautiful Mount Bromo hike without the crowds!
What to pack for Bromo
Below are the necessary items that you need to have for your Bromo adventure:
- Sunglasses – the sun is very strong, and the dust can easily get into your eyes. Check UV sunglasses in good price here.
- Hiking shoes or sneakers
- Suncream – I use this suncream as it has great protection, good skincare.
- Small day backpack
- Scarf for the dust
- Hat to protect from the sun
- First aid kit – you never know what might happen (like to me in Svalbard), so better be safe
- Torch for walking for the sunrise – the best is a head torch, so you can keep your hands free
- Water – I recommend reusable water bottle or Filter bottle that you can fill in and save money and reduce plastic usage. If you don’t have access to refilling water, then you can use a water bottle with the filter like LifeStraw to have clean water on the go. Check price here.
- Some warm clothes – long-sleeve shirt/jumper/light waterproof jacket (for example packable rain jacket) in case of rain. It wasn’t cold in Bromo in October, but in the early morning, it can get chilly.
- Camera – I took pictures in this post with my Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera. I often used the landscape lens – Samyang 12 mm, F 2.0 lens. If you take photos with your phone, consider getting a selfie stick and tripod in one.
Have you done the Mount Bromo hike? Which place was your preferred one for the Mount Bromo sunrise? Can you give any more tips for organizing Mount Bromo without a tour? Let me know in the comments!
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