Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park is in East Java, Indonesia.
Clockwise from lower left: the Poten Hindu temple, the steaming crater of Mount Bromo, erupting Mount Semeru, stately Mount Batok. This is the view from atop Mount Pananjakan.
This national park is named after its two mountains, Mount Semeru (the highest in Java at 3,676m), Mount Bromo (the most popular) and the Tengger people who inhabit the area.
Mount Semeru also known as Mahameru ("Great Mountain"), is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. What stands out most about this mountain is the fact that it erupts periodically (and very reliably). Every 20min or so, the volcano belches out a huge cloud of steam and smoke, sometimes interspersed with ash and stones. Climbing Mount Semeru requires some planning and a permit from the national park authority. The mountain is often closed due to its highly active nature.
Mount Bromo (2,329m) is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulfurous smoke. It sits inside the massive Tengger caldera. with a diameter of approximately 10km, surrounded by the Laut Pasir (Sea of Sand) of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, especially when compared to the lush green valleys all around the caldera.
The major access point is Cemoro Lawang (also Cemara Lawang or Cemora Lawang - blame the East Javanese accent!) at the northeastern edge of the caldera, but there are also trails from Tosari (northwest) and Ngadas (southwest). The village of Ngadisari, on the road from Probolinggo about 5.5km before Cemoro Lawang, marks the entrance to the national park. Both Cemoro Lawang and Ngadisari are rather picturesque, with brightly-painted houses and flower beds outside.
Roro Anteng and Joko Seger
Javanese folklore has it that during the 15th century, Princess Roro Anteng (daughter of the Majapahit King Brawijaya) and her husband Joko Seger fled marauding Islamic forces, ending up in safety at Mount Bromo. Here they developed a new kingdom, and named it Teng-ger using parts of their respective surnames.
The Kingdom of Tengger prospered and their religion flourished, but the royal couple were unable to produce an heir to the throne. In desperation they prayed and meditated on Bromo for many days before the crater opened and the almighty god Hyang Widi Wasa announced that they would be given children, with the condition that the last borne was to be sacrificed back to the mountain.
No less than 25 children were produced, but many years later Roro and Joko broke the condition and refused to sacrifice their last borne, Prince Kesuma. A dreadful eruption of Bromo followed and swallowed Kesuma into the crater. To appease the great God, Kesuma's brothers and sisters held an offering ceremony at the crater once every year, and this still happens today — the famous Upacara Kasada held on the full moon of the 12th month (Kasada) of the Tenggerese calendar.
The area in and around the park is inhabited by the Tenggerese, one of the few significant Hindu communities left on the island of Java. The local religion is a remnant from the Majapahit era and therefore quite similar to that on Bali but with even more animist elements. The Tenggerese are believed to be descendants of the Majapahit princes and were driven into the hills after mass arrivals in the area of devoutly Muslim Madurese in the 19th century. These Madurese immigrants were labourers working for Dutch coffee plantation owners and the native Hindu people of the region soon found themselves outnumbered and either converted to Islam or fled to the inhospitable high mountain tops where they remain today.
The religion is quite low key though (certainly when compared to Bali) with the most visible manifestation of faith being the rather austere Poten temple in the sea of sand. The Tenggerese number about 600,000 and they reside in 30 villages scattered in and around the park with smaller communities elsewhere in East Java.
For many visitors, the sight of the angular-faced, sunburned, mustachioed Tenggerese wrapped in poncho-like blankets, trotting about on ponies with craggy mountains as the backdrop, more resembles Peru than Indonesia!
If a landscape was ever needed to demonstrate the meaning of the phrase desolate beauty, then this is surely it. Rugged, barren volcanic peaks, gravel plains and that sea of sand. Truly unworldly.
The park also includes large areas which are very lush and green fed by rivers from the high tops. The medium elevations are clad with much thinner forest before this gives way to the barren plateau and peaks.
Flora and fauna
In the parts of the park which most interest visitors (the caldera and mountain tops) flora and fauna is limited by the general lack of vegetation. At lower elevations and away from the sea of sand, there are though lush green valleys with a typical tropical forest flora. The higher elevations before the tree line ends are largely clad with casuarina (cemara) forest.
Down in the valleys, a few leopard cats are present but rarely seen. Java rusa deer, muntjac, marbled cat and wild pig are amongst the mammals more likely to be glimpsed by casual visitors. This park is not so renowned for birdwatching as others in Java, but up on the plateau you often see hawks and eagles soaring over the valleys below.
Temperatures are refreshingly cool during the day but outright cold at night as temperatures can drop to zero in the dry season and are rarely much above 5°C in wet season. Daytime temperatures anywhere in the park never exceed 20°C with low teens being normal.
It can rain at any time and the mean average rainfall of 6.6m is best measured in metres, not mm! Most of that comes in the wet season though - November to March. During periods of heavy rain in January and February especially, many parts of the park are inaccessible due to flooding. Landslips are also a real issue at these times.
The 2010/2011 eruptions
In late 2010 and early 2011 volcanic ash and incandescent material was thrown up by eruptive activity with a heavy rain of ejected volcanic material falling around the crater. Continuous eruptions on 21 January caused a thin ash fall mainly in the village area of Ngadirejo and Sukapura Wonokerto, Probolinggo district. The impact of the heavy rain and volcanic ash from eruptions during December 2010 and January 2011 resulted in disruption to normal activities and the local economy. The potential for long term environmental damage and health problems amongst the residents in the locality surrounding Mount Bromo was paramount at that time.
Due to high seasonal rainfall in January 2011 the potential for lahar (cold lava) and lava flow (hot lava) was elevated due to the deposits of volcanic ash, sand and other ejected material that thad built up. Activity was dominated by tremor vibration, eruption of ash plumes and ejection of incandescent material.
People living on the banks of the Perahu Ravine, Nganten Ravine and Sukapura River were alerted to the high possibility of lahar flows, especially if further heavy rainfalls occur in the area around Cemorolawang, Ngadisari and Ngadirejo. Eruptions and volcanic tremors were reported on 21 January and 22 January with activity subsiding on 23 January 2011.
The park was reopened to visitors in April 2011.
Official tourism offices
- East Java Tourism Office, Jl Jendral Basuki Rachmat 6, Malang, East Java, ☎ +62 341 323966. edit
Mount Bromo is perhaps the most accessible of Java's active volcanoes and for that reason it gets a lot of domestic tourists, often in package groups. It is also a popular destination for high school groups who camp in the area. For that reason, those visitors seeking a quiet appreciation of the park should avoid major domestic holiday periods. That being said, this is a large park and providing you get away from the main watchpoint areas, quiet enjoyment is possible at any time, as long as the Tenggar caldera in the Mount Bromo volcano complex is not erupting as it did in 2004, late 2010 and early 2011. If so, some caution may be required.
Eruptive activity of Tenggar caldera in the Mount Bromo volcano complex-Cautions for visitors
A 2km general exclusion zone was proclaimed in early 2011 and currently remains in place at Mount Bromo.
Tourists and hikers are advised that they should not enter within any exclusion zone in the region and to maintain a safe distance at all times. The Indonesian Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) and Park authorities have installed warning signs to define the safe approach limits for visitors.
Warning signs and other advisories state the limit radius at the site as may be determined subject to the prevailing eruptive conditions. It is expected that the exclusion zone, extended significantly as an outcome of the eruptive activity in early 2011 may remain for an extended time.
It should be understood that that approaching the area still involves significant risk, even if staying outside the proclaimed exclusion zone.
This volcano has a history of spontaneous activity, sometimes including the ejection of ballistic projectile material. Some previous such spontaneous events have resulted in fatalities, injury and property damage.
As of 30 March, 2011 the tourist route to Mt. Bromo, Laut Pasir, Keciri, Jemplang, Padang Savana Tenger, & Bukit Adasan have reopened for visitors. However, since the eruptive activity of Mt. Bromo is unpredictable please ensure that you pay close attention to all advisories and cautions and use special care whilst in the area.
Visit times are restricted to 07:00-17:00.
If eruptive activity recommences and you are in the area please consider your need to remain there. If contemplating travel to the area during an eruption you should anticipate that services including the provision of accommodation, tourism related activities and facilities, civil services and travel arrangements may be disrupted, most especially if the eruptive activity is prolonged or escalates in intensity.
You should monitor the media for information concerning eruptive activity at the site if you are considering travel to the Mount Bromo area and use extra care at all times if near the site.
- The nearest major airport is in Surabaya (IATA: SUB), three to four hours away by car (and more by bus). Surabaya is well served by regular domestic flights from Jakarta and Bali and some other countries in Asia. Private cars can be arranged in the arrival hall. Fare for a drop off is around IDR600,000 and you may be able to get a car with driver (including fuel and tolls) for IDR500,000 after some negotiation (March 2014).
- Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport (IATA: MLG) at Malang is a small regional airport with flights from Jakarta only and access from here makes sense if you intend to enter the park via the Tumpang/Ngadas route.
There is a railway station in Probolinggo. It is around 10km from Probolinggo train station to Probolinggo bus terminal and you can use a Bemo for Rp 5,000. Lookup the picture from the terminal to avoid a scam (stop at hotel/travel agency). Outside Probolinggo bus station you can take a Bemo to Cemoro Lawang for Rp 35,000 (Nov 2015). The Bemo will only go once it is filled with 15 people. If you arrive after 16:00, it will be difficult to fill up the entire Bemo. You can negotiate there this a group. Before entering Cemoro Lawang, you will need to pay a conservation fee of Rp 10,000 (Nov 2015) to go inside the village. The Bemos drop you off in the village at the t-crossing; to the left goes to Cafe Lava, the right goes to Cemara Indah Hotel. It takes 1.5h to drive to from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang.
There are three established routes into the park.
The Probolinggo → Ngadisari route (Cemoro Lawang and Mount Bromo)
The nearest larger town is Probolinggo, on the north coast of Java about 45km as the crow flies from the park (but it feels a lot further). This is by far the most common route used to access the park as it is the most straightforward (but not necessarily the most interesting). About 6km west of Probolinggo on the main coastal highway, turn south at the village of Ketapang. From there the road snakes up for 40 km through Sukapura (not a bad idea to stay the night here as the hotels are good) to Ngadisari and finally Cemoro Lawang on the edge of the caldera. Total journey time about 1h30.
To get to Probolinggo from Surabaya, take a Damri shuttle bus from the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya to the Bungurasih bus terminal (also called Purabaya) in the city. Then take an express Patas air-conditioned bus for the 2-3h journey from Surabaya to Probolinggo (about IDR25,000). Buses without air-con, but with fans, cost IDR14,000. WARNING: On the return journey from Bromo, when the minibus drops you in Probolinggo you may be dropped off on the opposite side of the road to the bus terminal next to a tour company. Someone from this company will try to persuade you take "his private AC bus". In reality all he does is flag down the public bus as it leaves the terminal and tries to charge you more for the ticket. Make sure you get the bus from the terminal!
Green and blue Mini-Buses (10 seats) from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang are located right outside the terminal: IDR250,000 (translates to IDR40,000 per passenger). Departure from the the terminal bus station as soon as the bus is full or someone pays the full price. Can delay the bus up to 2.5 hours to get enough passengers though after 16:00 it's quite hard to get enough passengers, its possible to negotiate for a whole minibus at IDR300,000. However, the drivers can sometimes be less demanding for return trip back to Probolinggo, and can start out with fewer passengers on board.
In general it is hard to get enough passengers as they lften go with 15 seats buses. Mostly they leave half empty and the passengers have to pay the full price. Which is IDR 450,000 for the 15 seat bus. Note that no locals will take these buses and it is a business purley for tourists.
The small yellow mini buses can you bring from the city center of Probolingo to the "Terminal" (bus station) for IDR 4,000 (Oct, 2014). They try to overcharge by IDR 5,000 or more. If you want to explore Bromo at early morning, you can use 4x4 jeep. Price about IDR.500,000 - 700,000.
The Pasuruan → Tosari route
This route is only a little harder than the Probolinggo option and Pasuruan has the benefit of being closer to Surabaya. From Pasuruan on the main north coast road between Surabaya and Probolinggo, take the road 45km south to Tosari via Pasrepan. Irregular buses ply this route or you can drive it in a regular car. From Tosari to Wonokitri it is another 3km via a local bemo or on the back of a truck. From Wonokotri up to Bromo it is a really nice, three hour 14km trek, so you do need to start very early if you want sunrise. Alternatively you should be able to hire a 4x4 with a driver for that journey. There is accommodation in both Tosari and Wonokitri.
The Malang → Tumpang route
This route approaches from the south east and is seldom used due to the lack of facilities. Certainly the most off-the-beaten-path way to approach the park. Take a microbus from Arjosari bus station in Malang to Tumpang and then a 4x4 vehicle or a heavy truck from Tumpang to Ngadas. There are no facilities to speak of at Ngadas but you will find informal accommodation in family homes in the village. At Ranupani up on the top there is very simple homestay accommodation avaiable - ask at the park office there. The route from Ngadas on to the caldera is interesting because it transverses the Sea of Sand and directly passes Mount Bromo. (Warning: this road (Ngadas - caldera - Bromo) is closed for repairs until December 2015) A dirt road leads across the flat bottom of the caldera, up to Jemplang on the southern rim and on to Ranupani where you should check in at the park office. You have to take a 4x4 vehicle (unless you prefer to walk).
Tour from Yogyakarta
From Yogyakarta you can do a 3 Day Tour (Bromo; Ijen; Transfer to Bali; 2 Nights with Breakfast) for around IDR750,000 (Aug 2015). This is the fastest way, but many complains can be found online because it takes long and it is exhausting.
Leave Yogya 08:00-09:00; arrival late night in Comoro Lawang (11h+); wake-up 03:00 for sunrise; 21:30 continue to Ijen (6h+).
If you look at the distances (online route planner) and consider Indonesian travel speeds of 30km/h then the late arrival is no surprise:
|| Probolinggo Bus Station
|| Cemoro Lawang
|| Banyuwangi (Train Station; Ferry to Gilimanuk Bali; Tour to Ijen Crater)
|| Ubung (One of many Bus Terminal in Denpasar)
|| Batubulan (One of many Bus Terminal in Denpasar)
"Bogus" Park Tickets
When going on a pre-arranged sunrise tour, be aware when your tour agency or hotel attempts to collect a park entrance fee at the time of pick-up. Operators have been asking for the fee payment before you board the jeep and will hand you a standard receipt for the fee paid. This receipt is not an entrance ticket and will go unchecked at the park entrance gate, as most likely the park staff is getting a cut on this scheme for not checking tickets on these specific vehicles.
If you do not agree with this practice, refuse to pay and demand to stop at the park gate to purchase your ticket. The official ticket is printed on pink paper and sequentially numbered. Not having a real ticket won't get you on trouble but authorities seem to be aware and some vehicles are being stopped on the return to Cemoro Lawang as of May, 2014.
Prior to entering the park, your car will be directed into a parking lot at the base of the mountain. Upon exiting your car, unless you are on a prearranged tour, middlemen will approach you to offer tickets for a jeep ride to see the sunrise and be taken to the Bromo crater. If you buy your ticket from them, they will hike the price and buy your ticket for you from the office which is directly behind them. Simply avoid them by going to the office and asking to purchase a voucher. Alternatively, you can walk or take a motorcycle taxi, rates negotiable for motorcycle taxi. When entering the park the current ticket fee stands at IDR 10,000 for Indonesians and for foreigners it has increased from IDR 75,000 in 2013 to IDR 217,500 in early May, 2014. In weekends and on public holidays the entrance fee is 320,000 (since May 2014).
You can enter for free on foot, and walk to the crater (or hire a motorbike or horse with driver once you are inside). Use the horse track on the right side of the Cemara Indah hotel (between some stone benches and the first field you can enter in a little way that goes deep for 10min and then continue straight for 30 min, you already see the crator). Also, during the day you can just walk past the gate without being asked to pay. But everyone will tell you to have this ticket (seams it's a scam). If you book a tour and you walk by foot, don't pay the entrance fee to the travel agency in any case, just say you pay later and never pay :)
The viewpoints are free always.
Nevertheless, you always have to pay 10.000 Rps to enter the village/national park.
If you intend to climb Mount Semeru (only for serious trekkers and often closed due to eruptive activity) you will need to apply for a permit in advance to:
- Office of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Jl Raden Intan No6, PO Box 54, Malang, East Java, ☎ +62 341 491828
From the village of Cemoro Lawang, you can easily hike up Mount Bromo and Mount Penanjakan and the best time to do this is pre-dawn or later in the afternoon, if you wish to avoid the hundreds of people on pre-arranged tours. Villagers offer horseback rides to the top of Mount Bromo and you can also hire a jeep to take you around the area (about Rp 350,000 for one jeep ride in the caldera).
Walking to the Bromo crater from Cemoro Lawang takes only 45 minutes: a path immediately to the right of Cemoro Indah Hotel will lead down to the Sea of Sand. There is no ticket checkpoint.
Information on getting to the viewpoints without a vehicle is presented on the following sections.
- By far the most common activity in the park is visiting the collapsed but still smouldering Mount Bromo, located in the huge, unearthly moonscape of a caldera known as the Sea of Sand (Pasir Lautan). The much photographed view of steaming Mount Bromo surrounded by the Sea of Sand, its rather serene neighbour Mount Batok and mighty Mount Semeru as the southern backdrop, is one of the great iconic images of Indonesia.
- Mount Batok (2,440m) is a brown volcano at the north centre of the caldera. Unlike the other nearby peaks it is no longer active and actually has some vegetation growing on it, mostly casuarina (cemara) trees that somehow manage to survive even on volcanic ash.
- The wonderfully coloured and immaculately tidy Tenggerese houses. The Tenggerese culture is unique and an effort to understand these fine people, where they have come from and how they live in this sometimes difficult environment, will be rewarded.
- The Upacara Kasodo (also Kasada) is held every year at the full moon of the 12th month of the Tenggerese calendar and it is the most demonstrable Tenggerese religious ceremony. The Tenggerese invoke the approval of the gods to ensure a successful harvest, to be spared from any natural calamities and to be cured of disease. Selected Tenggerese men climb down to precarious ledges on the Bromo crater wall and catch the offerings thrown down by their excited neighbours above. A scramble ensues for possession of the offerings and whole thing is both exciting and rather terrifying as it is not unknown in all the mayhem for a "catcher" to slip off his ledge and fall. You can check the date of the next Upacara Kasodo at the East Java Tourism Office in Surabaya (+62 31 567 7219).
Madakaripura Waterfall - a good example of the lush nature of the park at lower elevations
- Madakaripura waterfall. These spectacular falls in the foothills of the park are easily reached by anyone visiting with their own transport. From Sukapura take the north-heading road towards Tongas and after about 6 km close to the village of Sapih the turning to the falls is signposted on your left. Continue down this small road to reach the car park for the falls. There are often lots of hawkers in the car park waiting to hire or sell you umbrellas and ponchos to protect from the spray. There are actually seven waterfalls here some of which drop over the access path during the wet season, so an umbrella is not as silly as it sounds. Legend abounds here: bathing in the chill waters is said to be an elixir of life, the water is regarded as holy by the Tenggerese and is used in their important ceremonies, and the great Majapahit prime minister Gajah Madah is reputed to have meditated here. A very attractive and relaxing spot. According to agents in the Bus Terminal (Nov 2013). the waterfall is a little bit dangerous because monkeys throws stones from the top onto your head, and there are floods in the wet-season (check if the waterfall is closed). The Public Transport route is: Probolingo - Tongas - Pasur Lumbang (from there 5km on foot to the waterfall). From Pasu Lumbang you can continue to Cemoro Lawang (Bromo) via Sukupurak. It might be hard (depending on season) to find Bemo and/or locals might use the opportunity to overcharge you or make you hire a motorbike with driver (No Bemo today). A local guide is handy because they know the easiest way to walk and will assist you when crossing the river several times (especially when the water is high in or just after the rainy season). It will cost around IDR 70.000-100.000 after bargaining (May 2014). To walk here from the parking area will take about one hour.
If you want to visit from Cemoro Lawang, you can ask at Cafe Lava Hostel to hire a car with driver. It will cost around IDR 600.000 to take you from there to the falls, wait for you, and drop you of in Probolinggo (May 2014).
- The Poten. This is the Tenggerese Hindu temple that sits looking eerily beautiful in the sea of sand close to Mount Bromo. There is something quite magical about this place and the frugality of its decoration and austere design seems very appropriate for the location. Easily found, you really cannot miss it.
- Lakes Ranupani and Ranu Regulo. These small, serene and always misty lakes are adjacent to the village of Ranupani on the south side of the crater. The village is the usual start point for ascending Mount Semeru and there is a park office here. Most visitors to this side of the crater will be happy though to take in the beauty of the small highland lakes and leave climbing Mount Semeru to the professionals. Ranupani is an extremely mystical village even by East Javanese standards and the rather ghostly lakes only add to the feelings of spirituality here. If this side of the crater appeals to you, it should be possible to arrange some simple homestay accommodation in Ranupani - ask at the park office.
Sunrise at the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park
When timing any activities in the area, bear in mind that sunset is soon after 17:00 and sunrise is correspondingly early at around 05:30. This means you will usually need to get up by 03:30 or so to get to a viewpoint in time for dawn. It will be very crowded, so try to arrive as early as possible if you want to have a good spot (which is at front by the fence). Most people will be watching the sunrise itself (from the left side of the platform), so get a good position to see Mt Bromo and other volcanoes while you can (middle-right side of the platform). About one hour before sunrise (4 AM) it will already be crowded, also in low season and at a weekday.
For the keen hiker, this park is a dream come true and you can make your own schedule. There are many possibilities once you are away from the more popular area at Mount Bromo. Maps and information about the area are available at one of the many official locations. A very easy hike to the first viewpoint takes 1 hour.
The park operates vehicular transport options, for the official prices of IDR275,000 for 2 locations; usually one of the Pananjakan viewpoints and the parking area towards Mount Bromo, or IDR450,000 for 4 locations. Be weary of hawkers offering "guided" trips for up to twice as much. The official driver provided are locals and usually have good knowledge. Feel free to ask drivers at any time to stop for photos or ask questions. Visitors may also bring their own vehicles; alternatively, guides can also be rented on motorbike to guide you around. A tour 4x4 can fit up to 6 people. When organized from any hotel the price seems to be fixed to IDR 125,000 per person to go to the viewpoint at sunrise (leave between 3AM and 4AM), crater and back.
Posts may also request entrance fees (one post per visit). The official fee is minimal, but the local guides may ask for more, this should still be well under IDR10,000 per person. The attentive visitor might rather walk to the post and ask to have the tickets issued directly. No other fees exist, aside from transportation services.
- Mount Bromo The edges are tinged with sulphur and always bubbling. Due to safety concerns, for some tourists at times may be very limited. When eruptive activity and the prevailing alert status permits the caldera may be approached by foot. Take the left fork at Cemoro Lawang's solitary crossing, then head down the ramp into the caldera and then across the caldera to the Hindu temple (Poten) at the foot of the mountain. From the temple a steep path of 250 concrete steps leads to the edge of the crater and a precarious 1m-wide ledge from where you can gaze into the steaming crater. A "fence" will block vehicles from getting too close to Poten, and hundreds of horses serve the trail for those who prefer not to go up on foot. A round trip will cost IDR100,000 from the parking area, or a single trip back will cost IDR30,000 (these are official prices with vouchers). It's much better to casually walk, though: the walk from the tourist centre to the top of the mountain should take no longer than 90min and is about 3km. In February 2011 the crater could be approached to a distance of 1km. The eruptive status remained too dangerous to descend into the caldera during February and March 2011 and smoke could still be seen rising out of the crater. Generally the more brown the smoke is, the more the volcano is active. Although the eruptive activity of early 2011 has subsided the area surrounding Teggara Caldera should still be approached with considerable caution.
- Mount Semeru can be climbed over 2 days but it is a venture for serious trekkers only and requires a high level of physical fitness. A permit must obtained in advance and would be climbers should be very aware that the mountain will be off-limits during periods of eruptive activity. This is a very active volcano. If you do decide you are up for this you should be able to find a guide to go at least part of the way with you at the park office in Ranupani. That office is also the best source of information for an assessment of the current state of the mountain and for hooking up with serious climbers from around the world.
- Mount Penanjakan (2,770m), its peak also called Viewpoint #1, located just north of the caldera, is a mountaintop viewpoint accessible by paved road from Tosari and hence popular with jeeps and even tour buses. At the peak lies an antenna array (easily spotted from miles around), many shops, a mosque and several "real" buildings. It's the highest point easily accessible, so many visit here to get a good look around. The most popular sight is the sunrise: most of the crowd comes to see the dawn at 05:00 and you will likely have the large concrete observation post to yourself if you arrive later in the day. A steady hike from Bromo to Batok and then around the rim to Penanjakan will take about three hours and the last ascent of about 500m is very stiff indeed but truly worthwhile. Ancient Javanese Hindu texts tell of how Bromo-Penanjakan-Semeru (or Mahameru as it was then) was the spiritual axis of the universe and the point of all creation. The view from Penanjakan will explain why - it is truly breathtaking. This is where most of those iconic picture postcard views are taken from. After you have had your fill of the views, a hike back across the sea of sand to Cemoro Lawang will take about 2h.
- Viewpoint #2, along the trail from Cemoro Lawang to Mount Penanjakan, is an excellent way to get a stunning view of the caldera without the crowds. To reach it, head west from Cemoro Lawang (past the Cemoro Indah hotel) for 6km, passing Tenngerese farms and fields. The paved road eventually turns into a twisty mountain trail that ends with a flight of stairs on the right, and the viewpoint (with concrete shelter) is at the top. Allow 90min for the climb up at a steady pace and bring along a flashlight if attempting this at night. From here, you can continue onto Mount Penanjakan by following the trail upwards, after which the trail merges onto the paved road to the viewpoint (total time about 60min one way). If planning to return the same way, mark the spot where the trail emerges onto the road (if you pass a stone lantern on the way down you have gone too far. Descending on this section can get slippery due to loose sand and rocks. As of September 2008, the direct route from Cemoro Lawang up to Penanjakan and Viewpoint #2 is severely damaged because of landslides. The path is still passable, but it can be tricky to spot the dangerous parts in the dark — each vistor should have their own flashlight.
- Jazz Gunung, Java Banana Bromo, Wonotoro, . Jazz Gunung (Mountain Jazz) is an annual music event that is held at Java Banana Bromo's open stage every July. It is a unique event that celebrates music, nature, and culture since 2009. The stunning scenery in breezy mountainous tropical climate with the temperature around 14-18°C (about 57-65°F) during daylight and hit as low as 6-10°C (42-50°F) at night distinguish this event from other jazz festivals in Indonesia. Visit the website for more information. Rp 150,000. edit
The most popular local product, at least based on the number of hawkers selling them, appears to be the Bromo hat, a colourful woolly hat with BROMO embroidered on it.
Scarfs and extra warm clothing are also popular and useful if you are not prepared for the cold mountain air.
Every lodge and hotel has an attached restaurant and there are few independent eateries of any note.
There are simple roadside warungs though selling the regular basic Indonesian dishes and IDR2,000 mugs of hot Javanese coffee (kopi panas). There is no nightlife in the usual sense of the word but all restaurants are open at 03:00 as that is when everybody wakes to see the sun rise.
- Waroeng Basuki. Nice eatery at Cemoro Lawang serving many traditional Indonesian dishes such as tahu tek (tofu/beancurd), rujak cingur (salad with a sweet and spicy sauce and garnished with ox-nose). Also serves Chinese food. Reasonably priced. edit
Evenings in the park are quiet. A few beers with fellow travellers are in order.
The mulled wine served at some places in the evening seems to be heated Tuak (a palm wine) with some local spices added. Only those with the strongest constitution should even consider this and frankly, it is not very nice.
Make sure you always have enough water with you during the day as it is deceptively easy to de-hydrate here, despite the fresh climate.
Colourful Tenggerese farm house, Cemoro Lawang
There are plenty of accommodation options around the park. Facilities at Cemoro Lawang and elsewhere close to the caldera are quite basic though and those visitors looking for more comfortable accommodation should stay in Sukapura or Tosari. If not on a pre-arranged tour and planning on hiking to the viewpoints and/or crater, favor hotels closer to the crater. That will also facilitate arranging public transportation onwards, as the public buses (green coloured vans) park close to the park entrance.
- Homestays, Cemero Lawang (near the bus stop). All rooms are small and prices are similar (250,000 with en suite hot shower, 150,000 with shared hot shower, IDR130,000 with shared cold water), but room qualities range from stinky no window to modern rooms with a nice view. One of the cheapest options is left of the main road, 100m before Cafe Lava with five clean rooms with shared cold water mandi. One hot shower room with good view can be found at Riky Homestay 3 houses before park fee collection. IDR150,000-250,000 (Apr 2014). edit
- Cafe Lava, Cemoro Lawang (very close to the park entrance). This former budget option now offers budget rooms at medium class hotel prices. Its kitchen will never win any star, but is one of the rare options in town get non-local food. From IDR218,000 for an economy room. edit
- Hotel Bromo Permai, Jl Raya Cemoro Lawang, Ngadisari, ☎ +62 335 541021. It is right on top in a fabulous location but it is not cheap compared to the other options. Also reports of the hot water and heating not working. edit
- Lava View Lodge, Cemoro Lawang, ☎ +62 335 541009. The most upmarket option in Cemoro Lawang, located at the caldera edge some 500m west of the village and the price is a bit higher than other options here. Looks better from outside than in, but the rooms are clean and have hot water. From IDR375,000. edit
- Yoschi's, Sukapura (below Java Banana Bromo Lodge and about 5 km down from Cemero Lawang), ☎ +62 335 541018, . 24 rooms and two x 2 bedroom family cottages. 20% is added to the stated prices. Cheaper rooms have shared toilets and a hot water shower outside. Be aware of the hotel distance to the crater if attempting to visit the sites independently, the 5 km distance is mostly uphill From IDR175,000. edit
- Java Banana Bromo Lodge, Jl Raya Bromo, Wonotoro, Sukapura, Probolinggo, East Java, ☎ +62 335 541193 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 14.00; checkout: 12:00. A cozy boutique hotel with beautiful views. It is a lodge, cafe and gallery. Also offer mountain bike rental. Prices from IDR1,210,000. edit.
- Grand Bromo Hotel (formerly Hotel Raya Bromo), Desa Sukapura, Probolinggo, East Java, ☎ +62 335 581103 (email@example.com), . Formerly this was clearly the grandest place to stay near the park but Java Banana may now hold that accolade. Located in Sukapura about one hour down the hill from Cemoro Lawang. They are close now, under renovation. Internet rates from USD55 and frequently included on package tours. edit
- Bromo Cottages, Tosari, Pasuaran, ☎ +62 335 515253 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Despite the name, it is actually a fairly upmarket hotel with 100 rooms. Has a good Chinese restaurant attached and can arrange car hire. Offer a full compliment of organised tours in and around the park as well as catering for the independent traveller. From IDR600,000. edit
- Bromo Surya Indah Homestay, Wonokitri village, ☎ +62 343 571049. Simple place to stay in an excellent location. Popular with budget travellers. About Rp 120,000. edit
Camping is certainly possible in the park but you must register at the Cemoro Lawang gate (where there is an adjacent campsite). There are many sources of safe, fresh water in the park - ask locally.
Potential campers should be very aware of how cold it gets here though and be thoroughly prepared for that. Heavy duty sleeping bags are essential.
Mount Semeru erupting in 2004
Temperatures on Mount Bromo are refreshingly cool during the day (although sunburn is still a real danger), but outright cold at night, as temperatures can drop to zero in the dry season and are rarely much above 5°C in wet season. Some of the cheaper places to stay may not provide adequate blankets or heating, so come prepared. If needed, you can rent jackets and hats at Cemoro Lawang and at the Penanjakan viewpoint for about IDR20,000. Hats and gloves are important if you wish to survive in the cold especially early in the morning, face masks would keep the dust away if the crowd gets big around the crater.
There are cases of malaria each year in the lower foothills of the park and any visitor planning a long stay or to camp in this area should take necessary precautions. This is not though a problem for those visiting Mount Bromo or the high plateau only.
The "path" at the top of the steps up to Mount Bromo is only about 1 metre wide and in places the drop into the crater is sheer and considerable. Be careful, make sure you have a flashlight for any pre-dawn climb and always have your wits about you. The steps can be covered with crater dust and its possible to slip while climbing. Be wary.
Bromo is an active volcano, and Semeru is a very active volcano. In June 2004, two tourists were killed at Bromo by rocks flung from a sudden explosion. The Smithsonian Institute's Volcanic Activity Report keeps an eye on both, and is worth checking.
It gets very cold up on the high tops at night, probably colder than anywhere in Indonesia outside of the glacial highlands of Papua. Be suitably prepared for nighttime temperatures not far above zero.
- Malang is the cultural capital of East Java.
- Banyuwangi for ferries to Bali, more national parks and the Ijen Crater.
- Surabaya for flights elsewhere in Indonesia and to Singapore and Malaysia.
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