Bromo, a dream to come through
One of my wildest dreams was to see Mt. Bromo and the amazing volcanic landscape around it. Everything else that is happening with me, all the great experiences in Indonesia are just a bonus. This is why I came to Cemoro Lawang, as this village is the closest to Bromo, and the easiest to walk to it if you don’t want to pay a fortune for a guided tour. And I don’t want one. I already paid lot for services with no added value. So the plan is to wake up early, leave to guest house at 3 am, 1,5-2 hours of walk to a viewpoint (there are plenty at different altitudes), watch the sunrise and adore the view, then walk to Bromo and climb up to the crater rim.
Those who plan to walk without a local guide gather around the entrance. A French couple, two Danish guys and three Spanish. Our host promised to meet us to show which path to choose to avoid paying additional fees in the National Park. Of course he never showed up. Later he told to the Spanish guys, that he was too tired, so he slept a bit more. Shall I comment? We did not wait long, and I left with the French and the Danish. We all knew where to go and had headlamps, so we were not worried at all.
The viewpoint is also called King Kong Hill, and it is really easy to reach. First we walk on the road, that becomes a dirt road after passing by the first viewpoints that are accessible by cars. Here the villagers wait with horses, hoping for having some customers. Finally the dirt road turns into zigzagging stairs. There is a spacious little clearing where the stairs end, and it is a comfortable viewpoint. It is possible to climb higher from here on a steep path, but I already suspected, that it is not worth the effort today.
When we left the village, it was raining a bit, but then I realised we are actually in the clouds and we could not see the stars. The clouds did not move even a bit till 4 am. Somehow I got over the fact, that I won’t see a beautiful sunrise today and I won’t see the landscape I was dreaming about. We could see the clouds from here perfectly, there was no need to climb higher. We were quite some people waiting there. Some were really sad and disappointed, but the majority of the people made fun of the situation. We made selfies with the clouds and took amazing instagram photos to show this beauty to the world and made jokes about our bad luck. That’s life, the weather in the mountains is unpredictable and anyway, the rainy season just starts, so there is no guarantee to have a perfect experience here.
We took our time and after a while continued our walk with the French couple. We descended to the crater on a path only used by the locals and the budget-minded visitors – there is a huge crater of an ancient volcano, Tengger, and there are further smaller volcanos within it – and walked towards Bromo that we could see already in the distance, about 2-3 km away. Many locals on scooters and horses approached us to offer transfer services, but we just went on with a great smile on our faces. As we got closer to Bromo, we could already hear its sound. You can climb up to the crater rim, from halfway using stairs again. The experience is just exceptional. I can’t properly describe it. The noise gets louder and louder, and then you can see the gas/steam column leaving the crater with a greater force – this you can see from the distance as well, but from there it seems to be only some peaceful slight steam – , then you smell the sulfuric gases, and finally you feel the tremor in all parts of your body. I can’t compare it to anything, I never had not even a little bit similar experience before. It is a very intense, elemental feeling. I feel the power of nature in my own body. It is scary and relaxing in the same time.
The weather didn’t get better. As we got back to the village, it started to rain, and the coming days were said to be the same. The day before I was considering staying one more night to enjoy the views of the mountains, if I like the village. But this place is just so creepy, that I wanted to leave. Of course I met some people later, who went there the next day, and had a sky full of stars, nice weather and amazing panorama. But I just let it go. It is okay if some things don’t work out fine.
We had no water in the guesthouse when we got back, the free tea/coffee disappeared, there was no breakfast prepared for us and we couldn’t find our host either. 30 minutes later he arrived and told us with a great smile on his face, that someone in his boss’ family died, this is why there’s nothing to eat. Somehow we didn’t believe him. Ten tired and hungry guest demanded the solution, so finally we could go to a closeby warung to have breakfast to be paid by the boss.
Some of us ordered a minibus to leave at 10, so we all decided to go with it to make sure not paying more than 35.000. We got into the bus 17 of us with our bags, plus the driver – I still don’t know how. But we had a lot of fun. We took selfies and celebrated all bumps and turns with a great laugh. There was Joe, Amanda and Morgan the Canadian girls, the French Julie and his boyfriend with whom I was walking all morning, the Danish and Spanish boys, Jana a Czech girl and some others I didn’t see before. The north-american squad travels to Yogyakarta with the night bus, the Danish go to Bali, the French to Sumatra. And I have no clue. I’m wondering what to do. Yogyakarta is a crowded city, there is a lot to do, but I don’t want to stay there for a week. Jana has no plans either, so somehow it is natural that we team up not knowing the next steps, and we travel together. In Probolinggo everybody leaves in different directions, and with Jana we pick a random destination.
Some guidance for those, who plan to visit Bromo without a local guide
- Train from Banyuwangi to Probolinggo (business/executive class): 120.000/140.000 IDR – 4 hrs
- Bus from Banyuwangi to Probolinggo: 40.000 IDR – 7 hrs
- Minibus from Probolinggo to Cemero Lawang: 35.000 IDR – 1-1,5 hrs (there is a bus in the morning hours, but I don’t know the price)
- One night in a guesthouse: 150-200.000 IDR
- Entrance fee for foreigners to the Bromo National Park: 220.000 IDR
- Night bus from Probolinggo to Yogyakarta: 180.000 IDR
Itinerary for the trek at down
- 3:00 am, leaving the guesthouse, at Cemara Indah Hotelnél at the huge gate take the right road, and walk 1,5-2 hours to one of the view points
- 5:00 am sunrise, and if you are lucky, enjoy the beautiful lights and the view. There is someone selling tea/coffee at every viewpoint, so even though it is cold, for 7.500/15.000 IDR you can get warm
- 6:00 am leaving to the crater, descending from the viewpojnt to the road, and after the small bridge there is a narrow path down to the Sea of Sand towards Bromo
- 7:00 am Bromo crater rim and the active volcano under your feet. After descending from here you are again in the Sea of Sands, you head towards the antennas and climb up to the village on a steep, dusty path used by the villagers.
- 8:30/9:00 breakfast, if you get one
It sounds difficult as you read it, but once you are there, you will know what to do.