Mount Bromo is probably one of the most famous scenic attraction in East Java of Indonesia. It is famous for its magnificent sunrise views and view of volcano crater there, which is very rare to see. That goes well for Kawah Ijen Volcano Crater.
Bromo is still one of the most active volcanoes in the world and there are areas that are blocked off from tourists due to its imminent danger. Because of that, Mount Bromo was automatically on my bucket list to be checked off when I was visiting Indonesia.
This time I decided that I wanted to make my experience to Mount Bromo as independent as possible and I would save money that way.
Since a typical trip to Mount Bromo would have been through a tour company where you will take a group bus or private van with few other tourists and stay in a pre-booked lodging accommodations. The tour will make multiple stops at pre-arranged eateries and rest stops. In some ways, you would save your energy this way as you will be making a very little effort in this trip, but it can be rather disappointing because the tour usually ends at the ending of the sunrise.
You won’t be able to spend your time at your own pace and absorb all the natural experience you can have if you went there on your own.
Sometimes you gotta have an adventure to save money. At the same time, you’ll have more stories to tell.
This time, I definitely had an interesting trip to get to the Mount Bromo. It was somewhat challenging too.
My starting point was in Bali and I had to take a bus from Ubung Bus Terminal to Probolinggo for the first leg of the trip.
In the early morning at Ubung bus terminal, there wasn’t any ticket window and I would have to negotiate with the bus representatives swarming around the bus terminal trying to sell you bus tickets.
I pulled out my negotiating tricks with one of bus representatives that one said their ticket was 200,000 Rupiah (~$15 US Dollars) and bought a ticket for 125,000 Rupiah (~$9 US Dollars). Be sure to have them show you the ticket cost price instead of them quoting you. Ask to take a look at their receipt booklet to see how much they charge others and negotiate base on that.
The 10-hour bus trip from Bali to Probolinggo included a ferry ride and a crappy meal at some roadside restaurant in Situbondo town. It departed at some point between 10-11am and arrived at nighttime.
One thing you need to note: No toilet breaks. However, you can use the toilets at the ferry. The bus will take the ferry across, reducing the hassle of buying separate ferry tickets. You can buy food on the ferry as well.
When I hopped off the bus at the terminal in Probolinggo, everything was dark. The streets were empty except for a few police officers walking around, so I walked to them to ask for some assistance on how to get to Cemoro Lawang (the base of Bromo). They weren’t very helpful, so I asked a local walking by.
Most of them told me that I had to take a bus for around 400,000 Rupiah (~$30 US Dollar) each way. I, of course, refused to take the deal. I wasn’t sure if it was one of their scams off tourists. I knew there were a cheaper way to get there instead of paying the “standard tourist” price. If I had to pay for both ways, that would be 800,000 Rupiah, which is equivalent to around $60 and that is just too much to spend on.
Then I was left with no choices but to find a hostel to stay at. I started looking around for hostels and hotels just to find that many of them were too expensive for me to stay at. I was so bummed out yet I was determined.
I was actually deserted on the streets for around two hours or so. Only until this guy on a motorcycle came out of thin air and stopped me to offer me a ride to the Mount Bromo as he was on his way there.
He first offered me 400,000 for one way, but I bargained hardcore by negotiating it all way down to 125,000 Rupiah (~$10 US Dollars) for one way. From 400,000 to 125,000 Rupiah?
Sure! I’ll take it!
With my heavy backpacks being loaded on my shoulders, I hopped on the back of the motorcycle. I was surely nervous and worried about riding with him on a leap of faith. All I hoped is that he was honest about where he was going to.
The ride became thinner and colder because of the high altitude. It was freezing for me and the morning light start to brighten up a little and I finally could see the colors of the dirt road, green grass and trees on the sides of the road.
Along the trip, I had a minor bike accident where the motorcycle had to skid before getting stuck in a mud puddle at the bottom of a bump in the road. I fell off the bike with the driver. No injuries, though. Whew!
Except that My backpack and I were covered in mud from the skid, which a little “ughh” for me but it wasn’t a big deal though.
Then the motorcycle actually wouldn’t start for a while as the driver took the time to clean the bike from the mud and tried to get it started.
Finally, it started. The driver walked with the bike across the puddle and got it running up on the next part of the road. I hopped back on and rode for another few hours as we could see the daylight from the sunrise.
As we drew closer to Cemoro Lawan, I decided to start looking for a place to stay there, but most were full and the ones that were available would have costed me around $50-60 US Dollars a night which I wanted to avoid as much as possible
So, I decided to find a place who would watch my backpack when I go up to the volcano. It took me a few hotel visits to find a hotel that were willing to hold my backpacks at no cost.
As soon as I found a hostel that was willing to watch my backpacks, I quickly changed into a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt as the driver urged me to wear one because it would be cold going up the volcano. Keep that in mind as well, my friends.
Once I was ready, the motorcycle guy took me to the entrance gate of Mount Bromo, which costed me around 200,000 rupiah (~$15 US Dollars).
This is only the beginning of the hike to Mount Bromo, but the motorcycle driver rode me through the base of Bromo before I started hiking up the volcano to the summit. Often, tourists would take a jeep to get to the base of the Bromo and I saw plenty of them passing my ride while I get to enjoy and absorb the scenery I had while riding. No regrets here.
When I arrive at the base of Bromo, I thought I was on the Moon. Bromo had a lunar landscape, which looks like something from the surface of the Moon. This plain field was called the sea of sand. The grayish-brownish sand stretched for miles on all sides. On one side was Mount Bromo, just a mile away, and the other side you could see lush green mountains.
There were high winds when I was there. It was so early, I could see the mist and fog all over the area. The sun was still rising from the ground.
From where I was, I could see how the summit was packed with people at the size of ants. They were so tiny from where I was looking at them. The path to the summit didn’t appear long to me until it was up close and I realized that I was so far away from the summit.
I had to walk up a steep, windy path, but then I took the risk to go on a dangerous off-path to beat the slow people walking up the path. The off-path was somewhat easier be
cause I wasn’t walking on the path where horses tend to walk and pass me. The sand was too soft, so it became exhausting to walk on it upwards. So, the path I took had more solid surface where it was more comfortable for me to hike up at my own pace. Besides, I was lucky to have an excellent hiking boots.
Due to the high altitude, it became harder to breath as I go up. I was panting like a dog when I got at the top. It was quite challenging even for someone as fit as me. The views from the top were gorgeous, although still very dangerous.
Then I took the stairway to the crater acidic lake nearby and there was a path around the crater, so I took a walk around the crater to absorb the breezing environment here.
The people I met at the top of summit were so friendly and they interacted with me. We all shared a moment together there. Everybody also helped each other out by taking pictures of each other. Not only that, some locals were there and they offered us fresh fruits and some food. I was in awe of them, but I had to decline because I didn’t want to spend much. It was pleasing to be there.
The environment was so breezing and beautiful with the clouds and white smoke coming out of Mount Bromo. I couldn’t see the lava because of that, but the view was beyond stunning. I wouldn’t replace anything with this experience.
It is totally different from just looking at the pictures beforehand. Truth to be told, the pictures made it seem okay to me at first, but I went anyways.
Honest with you, I do feel very fortunate to be able to stand at the summit of Mount Bromo and absorb the beauty of their sunrise.
Back at the base, I met up the same guy who rode his motorcycle and he was very kind and offered me a trip back to Probolinggo at the same cost. But I end up paying him 300,000 Rupiah for the round-trip as a generosity because I was grateful that I found a trip for 300,000 Rupiah instead of 800,000 Rupiah for round-trip.
Before I wrap this up, I want to share you a few tips:
- Doing this by yourself is cheaper and very challenging, but you will find it beneficial and rewarding in the end. Unless you want to put the least effort to get up there, your choice then.
- Do not let the bus representatives scam out of you by quoting you the ticket before they show their actual and fixed rate. Ask to take a look at their receipt booklet to see how much they charge others and become aware of what you are negotiating for. Sometimes, you will even get a quote that is cheaper than the actual price. Be smart on this one.
- Look for local people who would be willing to give you a ride at a cheaper cost when you are in Probolinggo. Most of the time, they would be more than happy to do you a favor and you would be able to return the cost that is way cheaper than riding the bus or taxi/cab. At the same time, you will make a new friend rather than get lost in a crowd of people in a bus.
- You are highly encouraged to leave Probolinggo as early as 3 o’clock in the morning. That way you would be able to arrive in before the sunrise at 5:30am, so you can enjoy your hike up to the summit as the sun rises with you. Then you would be able to capture stunning pictures of the sunrise while you are at the top—that’s the best part. Not only that, less people and tourists at around that time. Most tour groups would come in around 5am and that’s when it will become packed. The earlier, the better.
- Be sure to wear warm clothes because it would become cold as you go higher in the altitude.
- Last but not least, wear a durable and comfortable hiking boots. That’s what boosted my hiking experience, otherwise I wouldn’t have reached to the top in time for the beautiful sunrise.
To be honest with you all, I’m truly glad I went though this instead of joining a tour group because I get to save myself some extra spending money for other expenses I may need to pay. On the plus side, I get to share you an adventurous story of my trip to Mount Bromo, which I would rather over telling you all a story where many others have told if they had taken the same tour I joined.