The Mighty Mount Bromo

My trips to Indonesia have been spearheaded by experiences in Bukit Lawang, Candi Borobudur, and Komodo National Park. However, if jungle, temples, and man-eating dragons were not exciting enough for me, then my trip to climb the legendary volcano, Mount Bromo, was surely another highlight of my trip!

Surabaya Bus Terminal is where you catch your ride to Probolinggo
Probolinggo Bus Terminal is where you usually arrive from Surabaya

Mount Bromo is located in the north eastern part of Java in Indonesia, a 3 hour bus ride from the second largest city in Indonesia, Surabaya. Bromo is an active volcano which last erupted in 2011. There have been a few major eruptions in the past decade, and these have caused multiple fatalities in the nearby villages of Cemoro Lawang and Probolinggo. The name “Bromo” derives from the Hindu word “Brahma”, meaning God. Part of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, Mount Bromo is only one of five volcanoes in Tengger caldera, with the others being Mount Batok, Mount Kursi, Mount Watangan, and Mount Widodaren. Incidentally, Batok is the only volcano that is no longer active and is now covered in trees. It is said that leopards live around the national park, but luckily I did not encounter one!



I caught a train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya and then endured a 2 hour bus ride from Surabaya to a quaint little town called Probolinggo. From there a short journey into the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park was all that was needed to begin my ascent of the mighty Mount Bromo! I stayed at a hotel called Java Banana. It is by no means the cheapest option in the area, but I had long since fallen in love with the guesthouse since reading reviews and looking at pictures in TripAdvisor. I spent just one night there but really enjoyed my time in its surroundings. It was a nice variation from the experience I encountered while in another of Indonesia’s most famous national parks at Gunung Leuser.

Your carriage awaits!
Your carriage awaits!

Outside the many accommodations in the area, you can find ‘official’ 4X4 vehicles to take you deep into the Park. You cannot go in on foot, so finding a good bargain is vital (unless you get transport as part of your hotel package, like I did with Java Banana).

The lunar landscape of the Bromo-Tengger National Park
The lunar landscape of the Bromo-Tengger National Park

Unlike many of the landscapes around Indonesia’s volcanoes, Bromo has a lunar landscape, which looks like something from the surface of the Moon. There were high winds when I was there, and I was advised by the tour guides to wear a face mask to avoid the worst of any dust and fumes. It is the only location in Indonesia that is surrounded by a so-called ‘sea of sand’, hence the need for masks in inclement weather.

The scenery is amazing (but be careful of toxic fumes)
The scenery is amazing (but be careful of toxic fumes)
The final climb to the crater

I found the ascent of Bromo to be fairly challenging, even for someone as fit as me. However, it was very windy on that day which affected my enjoyment a little as I felt as though I could not concentrate on the matter at hand because of the wind whistling past my ears all the while. The views from the top are amazing, although still very dangerous. There are clearly marked paths from which you cannot deviate.

The fumes can be quite toxic (did I mention that already?)

Further south from the Tengger caldera is the highest peak in Java, Mount Semeru. Semeru is a stratovolcano in a state of perpetual eruption (sometimes every 20 minutes or so), but many tourists still climb it regardless of the risks. In fact a man recently died hiking Semeru by inhaling her poisonous fumes. Towards the top of Mount Semeru, it is so high that no plant life exists despite this effectively being located in the middle of the tropics!

The view over Mount Panjankan
The view over the sun-setting horizon from Mount Pananjakan

Despite Semeru’s status, most people still come to the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park to climb Mount Bromo, or focus on Bromo’s sunrise/sunset views from what is the best vantage point at Mount Pananjakan. Your day will start very early to climb Bromo, so by the end of the day (or late afternoon) you may be quit exhausted, but just remember that the more you climb, the more you will be rewarded in this remarkable place!


In the afternoon, I also visited the incredible Madakaripura Falls within the Bromo-Tengger National Park. The falls were difficult to get to, and it took a 4×4 considerable trouble to navigate the rugged terrain, but once there I was greeted with the amazing sights captured in the photos above. A trip to Madakaripura can easily be tagged on to your itinerary when visiting Mount Bromo, either after your sunrise climb, or before viewing an epic Javan sunset.

For more information and lots of photos of Mount Bromo (and Mount Ijen further east in Java), check out this blog from Vikram Bahl and these epic photos of a Bromo sunrise from This Battered Suitcase.


37 thoughts on “The Mighty Mount Bromo

  1. Hi.
    Lucky you. You can visit the water fall there. aaarrr 😀

    By the way, if you have time to read my ‘traveling’ (that i call mbolang), i guest you will find a new definition for ‘free-backpacker’ hehehee.
    But its written in Indonesia languaga, of course 😀


  2. The photos are amazing and the place looks magical!

    I watched an Indonesian movie called 5cm which shows a hike up to Semeru and I was fascinated with the view offered at the area 😀


  3. Yes,high recomended to visiting indonesia and had a lot of beatiful places in part of java and indonesia island, awesome picture and love it..😍


    1. Wow, I hope you can enjoy Bromo! Let me know how you get on! I didn’t make it Ijen Crater. If I had gone overland from Surabaya to Bali I would have gone to Ijen before Banyuwangi, but alas not.


      1. I’m so excited to travel there after seeing your wonderful picture! Hope I can make it . I’ll be going on the last week of October. Are we allow to ride those horses? Pay those guides is it?


    1. Bromo is not a difficult volcano to climb. You can get a bus up to the Penanjankan peak and watch the sunrise/sunset. After that, most people come back down again. If you wanted to climb it on foot, then most routes up and back down again take less than 4hrs, if you keep moving.


  4. Nice reading.! Planning to do solo travelling to bromo coming November. Will be arriving at Juandah in the morning. Is it recommended to get a bus to Probolinggo?


    1. The bus from Surabaya to Probolinggo is the best way to Bromo certainly! From Probolinggo, minivans or cars can take you further into the park. I hope you have a great time climbing! 😀


    1. Early morning train from Jogja is the best bet, but it depends if you are staying in Surabaya or not for 1 night. If you are, then leave early morning from your hotel in Surabaya to get to Bromo with minimal crowds.


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