MOUNT BROMO WITHOUT A TOUR: SUNRISE VIEWPOINTS, HIKES, MAPS
Mount Bromo is one of the most incredible volcanoes in the world. It just so happens to be surrounded by several other volcanoes in one of the most magnificent landscapes you will ever set eyes on. Jeep tours to Mount Bromo are one of the most popular activities in East Java but I did Mount Bromo without a tour and I’m going to share the details so you will know the sunrise viewpoints, hikes, maps and important timings for your DIY Mount Bromo adventure.
If you are going on a Mount Bromo tour with the jeep, I would continue reading as well because you may find some valuable information in this post regarding photo spots, sunrise spots and itinerary you could suggest to your driver.
First I will give you all of the information about Mount Bromo and then I will share with you how we did it without a tour, which was very simple and easy. It gave us a lot of freedom having our own motorbikes for the day.
WHAT IS MOUNT BROMO
Mount Bromo (known as Gunung Bromo in the local language of Bahasa) is an active volcano. It is part of the Tengger Massif region in East Java, Indonesia, which is one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of East Java and even Java itself. The volcano is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. If you are wondering what the term ‘Bromo’ means you are correct if you guessed it held some great significance. It is derived from the Javanese pronunciation of ‘Brahma, which is the Hindu creator god.
Mount Bromo lies in the middle of a huge crater called the ‘Sea of Sand’, which is a protected reserve. There are a total of five volcanoes inside the crater including Mount Bromo (2,329m), Mount Batok (2,470 m), Mount Kursi (2,581 m), Mount Watangan (2,661 m), and Mount Widodaren (2,650 m).On a typical tour you will visit viewpoints on Mount Penanjakan that look back into the crater and towards Bromo, visit inside the crater at the ‘Sea of Sand’ and have the option to summit Mount Bromo itself.
It is safe to visit Mount Bromo, but depending on the level of activity, sometimes the Bureau of Meteorology issues warnings about visiting.
WHERE IS MOUNT BROMO
Mount Bromo is a 45-minute walk from the village of Cemoro Lawang. The nearest cities/towns are Malang or Probollingo. I used Probollingo as a base to visit Mount Bromo and it was a 1.5-hour moped drive to the entrance from Probollingo. In relation to the other attractions, you may want to visit in East Java, Mount Bromo is more or less the central figure. I say central because you will likely fly into Surabaya and also likely visit Ijen Crater. This puts Mount Bromo somewhere in the middle of those two depending on your route. As you can see on the map below it is about equal distance to Mount Bromo from either Probollingo or Malang. I don’t think it really matters, either way, to be honest. Probollingo was a good base for us as we also visited Madakaripura waterfall, which is nearby. We had already visited Malang at the start of our route so there was no need to return.
MOUNT BROMO ENTRANCE FEE
We drove to Mount Bromo on our mopeds. We didn’t need to book anything in advance. You just arrive at the gates and the first man asked us for 10,000 rupiah, which is less than $1 USD. Then moments later at another stop, we bought the ticket at the official booth, which was 220,000 rupiah, which at the time was about $16 USD. Therefore give or take with the exchange rates the total fee was $17 USD. We did also pay for parking at King Kong Hill viewpoint and at the foot of Mount Bromo before we summitted. Both of those fees were about $1. Total fees and parking tickets for the day were less than $20 USD. Not bad for the most popular attraction in the region!
MOUNT BROMO HEIGHT
Mount Bromo is 2,329 meters (7,641 ft) above sea-level but despite its immense popularity, it isn’t even the highest peak in the region! Don’t worry, when you hike up to the summit you will already be high above sea-level before you begin so you won’t actually be hiking 2,329 meters. That is just how far above sea-level the peak is. The actual trek to the top takes only about 20-30 minutes depending on your fitness level.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MOUNT BROMO
The best tie to visit Mount Bromo is during the dry season, which is April to October. I visited in November and it was a perfect day for us! The National Park is open to visitors year-round.
MOUNT BROMO TEMPERATURE
You are most likely going to Mount Bromo for sunrise. It isn’t going to be a freezing snowcapped mountain but you will be chilly. We drove for 1.5 hours on the mopeds in a jacket and shorts and we were cold, to say the least. Most people had jackets, beanies, gloves, and the whole nine yards. However, once the sun rises you don’t need any of that as it becomes quite hot. So you are really only chilly for a short period of time, especially if you arrive by jeep or car then you don’t have the wind like on a motorbike.
The temperature at the King Kong Hill viewpoints can get to as low as 5-10 degrees Celsius. It’s Indonesia. Bring layers and no doubt you will remove them. We drove home and got sunburnt after freezing our butts off in the morning.
DOING IT SOLO!
Okay, that’s all of the general information about Mount Bromo covered. Now I will share with you my journey and how we did Mount Bromo without a tour. There is no big hack but we did find a lack of information online about motorbikes, where to rent them, can they cover the terrain, where to go for sunrise etc. So, I hope this helps the DIY community enjoy their day at Mount Bromo.
GETTING A MOTORBIKE IN PROBOLLINGO
It’s the night before we hike Mount Bromo and we need a motorbike. We are in Probollingo and it is quite clear this is not a tourist town and there are no tourist shops with bikes and tours on every corner as you might find in Bali. We begin to trawl forums and blogs looking for a travel agent or someone who rents out bikes and eventually we found a local called Bowo. His Whatsapp number is: +62 813 7324 2198
He came and picked us up from our homestay and took us to his house. Here he showed us the bikes, we paid him each 150,000 rupiahs (This isn’t Bali with 50,000 rupiah bikes, this is Probollingo, where you pray you will find something with two wheels). He kept our passport. Surprisingly he told us yeah take em on the sand, go for it! Normally the owner is more cautious. We found that even stranger once we experienced the sand!
THE JOURNEY FROM PROBLLINGO TO MOUNT BROMO
We were insistent on being at the top with time to spare because we were making a film and shooting photos. So we saw that it was about a 2-hour drive from Probollingo to Bromo. Therefore we decided to leave at 2 am. This gave us time for any incidents or wrong turns and would give us about an hour to spare at the top.
We ended up reaching a small village about 35 minutes before Mount Bromo entrance. We were way too early as we still had several hours till sunrise. We stopped here and had two coffees before continuing on a little later. It was a very cold drive but we did it in shorts and survived. If you are smart and have pants, wear them!
If you want to cut it close you could leave Probollingo at 3 am but I would probably suggest heading off around 230 am having experienced the journey myself once. I’m not sure if we went the wrong way but we drove across the crater in the morning to get to King Kong Hill. The route was fine we just didn’t see anybody else doing it. The sand was super thick so we were skidding all over the place by ourselves in the crater. It was actually pretty funny looking back on it but we thought we were lost in the dark for sure!
SUNRISE VIEWPOINTS AT MT BROMO
Once you pay your entrance fees and get into the national park, you soon realize how popular this place is. As you drive up towards King Kong Hill, hundreds of jeeps literally line both sides of the road. It is insane.
Now. You are left with several options for your sunrise.
A) Go to King Kong Hill, which is more or less the highest viewpoint on Penanjakan Hill looking down at Mount Bromo. It is insanely crowded and you might got poked in the eye with a selfie stick. I would avoid this option although I am sure the view is great. We originally planned to go to King Kong Hill and just find our own spot somehow but on the way we stopped as we thought we had made it and it turned out we were one peak too soon, which ended up being perfect. We could see the madness of King Kong Hill to our left as 20 or so of us calmly watched the sunrise over Mount Bromo with no barriers.
B) Therefore, option B is to go almost the whole way to King Kong Hill but stop just before and watch it at a smaller viewpoint. I’ll admit, amidst all the people and parking lots it is hard to find what you want so you kind of just have to get lucky and hope you find a good spot. Once again, leaving early gives you breathing room if you pick a dud viewpoint you can quickly change.
C) There are lots of viewpoints all the way all Penanjakan Hill. Some of them look all the way down the ridge of the crater, which is awesome and others have a huge drop-off or unobstructed views. To be honest, until you visit once or during the day it will be hard to know which you will prefer. The reality is they all more or less look at the same place and we visited several of them after sunrise and commented to eachother that we wouldn’t have been dissapointed at any.
D) The final option, which is definitely one worth considering is to be on top of Mount Bromo for sunrise. All of the tours go to King Kong Hill or Penanjakan Hill for sunrise and then hike up Mount Bromo after. Like clockwork after sunrise they make the transition to Mount Bromo for the hike, quickly vacating King Kong Hill. If you do it in reverse, you get an epic view of the sunrise from the crater rim and then you miss the crowds when you go up to the viewpoint. It’s definitely something to consider. We though about this option long and hard but decided in the end we wanted to take photos of the entire valley or ‘Sea of Sand’ while the sun was rising.
Our sunrise was epic and cold. The trees made it a bit difficult for too many photos but you had a clear view out of Mount Bromo for landscape photos. For us, it was a great helipad for the drones and we sent them straight down towards Mount Bromo for some amazing shots.
Below are two examples of viewpoints we could see from our very own viewpoint. The third shot below is the drone photo I took while flying from our sunrise viewpoint.
DRIVING DOWN TO ‘SEA OF SAND’
Now that the sunrise is over, you make the slow crawl down the mountain into the crater with all of the jeep drivers. Don’t try and speed down you will just get stuck behind another jump, cruise down in the now warmer weather and enjoy the glimpses of Mount Bromo. Once you reach the sand you will see that the jeep tours all run off and find their own little spot to take photos. It is actually kind of strange like part of the tour is modeling with your jeep. We decided to go off-roading with our mopeds and seriously had so much fun. We also got stuck 100+ times but we were flying around as our back wheels were sliding from left to right. It’s a great way to crash or get injured but bloody fun. There’s no need to do any of that but for us, it was part of the experience and we were taking photos and videos while we were at it.
If you choose not to drive like a maniac across the thick sand you will still likely struggle. There are many parts where the sand is so soft and thick you will get stuck or be sliding around. This isn’t ideal for a first-timer to be honest. It’s not difficult per se but not comfortable at all. We were covered from head to toe in dust.
After our fun in the sand, we made our way over the to the entrance for the Mount Bromo hike and parked our bikes for 50 cents. There is also a toilet here and there are snacks available.
HIKING TO THE MOUNT BROMO SUMMIT
The trail to the top of Mount Bromo Summit is free. It takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how quick you can haul yourself up the sandy slope. Many tourists decide it is a good idea to have a horse haul them up the hill. It’s pretty cruel for the horses and I suggest you think long and hard about how the horse is feeling before deciding you are a bit too tired to walk up the hill.
It took us about 25 minutes and when we reached the summit, I had imagined it would be a nice view but nothing too amazing. I thought the sunrise viewpoint was the pinnacle. How was I so wrong!? Once you reach the top you look down inside the huge crater as the sulfur pit of hell rumbles loudly and ominously! All sides of the crater slope down and it appears as if it is an actual burning pit of fire. Essentially Mount Bromo is the closest thing to hell on earth in the best way possible.
You can actually walk all the way around the crater although bear in mind the safety railing only covers you for the first few steps. After that, you are on your own. It isn’t dangerous but the reality is if you slip down the side of the crater you are in big trouble. The path is about 1-meter wide in most parts. Know your fears and limits and don’t go past the viewing area if you are in doubt.
If you are keen, there are a couple of flags posted on the far side of the volcano. We went to check out the first and while I assume you can reach the second and complete the loopback I cannot confirm that. We walked on the left side of the crater to the first flag and returned.
MOUNT BROMO EQUIPMENT/GEAR LIST
Warm Jacket: It was very cold in the morning but after the sun came up we were in t-shirts.
Enclosed shoes: I had Salomon hiking shoes, which were great and I suggest proper hiking shoes as it can be quite slippery. However, my friends just used normal sneakers. Definitely, don’t do this one in flip-flops!
Water and snacks: There are only a few vendors once you are in the national park. I think I noticed one shop but I’m not sure it was open. Pack your snacks and water. We were there for a long time taking photos and videos so we packed a bit extra. There are Warungs and cafes nearby for when you leave the national park.
Hope that helps you enjoy a cheap, DIY day of adventures at Mount Bromo!