Tumpak Sewu Waterfall (also known as Coban Sewu) is arguably Indonesia’s best waterfall. It isn’t the largest, even in East Java, but is definitely the most impressive. From above it looks like the tree of life, from below it is immensely powerful and from all angles, it is quite simply mindblowing.
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TUMPAK SEWU WATERFALL
In this article, I am going to share with you my tips for visiting Tumpak Sewu Waterfall. I will share with you the location, where to stay, the order of viewpoints and trails, other waterfalls to visit on the same day and itinerary for the day so you can be at the right spots at the right time for good lighting. We didn’t take a guide but it wouldn’t be a bad idea especially for Goa Tetes after.
TUMPAK SEWU VIEWPOINT
The first thing you want to do on your Tumpak Sewu Waterfall adventure from Lumajang is to wake up early. Be at the Tumpak Sewu viewpoint for sunrise. Although the sun won’t be on the waterfall, this is actually what you want. The fog is beautiful in the morning and creates a mystical atmosphere. In the background, Semeru Volcano will be giving you a beautiful backdrop, while Tumpak Sewu slowly comes into focus as the light increases.
At sunrise, there will be no-one or hardly anyone at the viewpoint. We had it all to ourselves for the entire hour we visited (It was also a weekday which helped). Most tourists don’t wake up for sunrise because they don’t care too much about the photo, the colors or the epic lighting. If you put in the effort you can beat the crowds all day just by waking up slightly earlier.
The viewpoint has a little section that is fenced off. This is a steep hill in front of the viewpoint that is quite steep. There is a path there and it isn’t super dangerous but if you do jump the fence just remember the fence is there for a reason and if you do slip you could be in some serious trouble as the drop-off is big. You can get great photos here without taking any huge risks so just be smart, enjoy the waterfall and the viewpoint.
It is a great spot for the drone. If you fly directly above you will see that the river bends around the corner after all of the flows down the cliff meet together. It creates what looks like a tree of life symbol. It’s simply incredible viewing from the drone and one of my favorite drone sessions of my life.
Don’t stay too long at the viewpoint otherwise, you may miss the nice lighting inside the canyon at the foot of Tumpak Sewu Waterfall if it is a clear day. You don’t want too much sunlight while you are at the bottom of the falls in the morning because it will be directly above the falls and making your photos very blown out.
HIKING DOWN TO TUMPAK SEWU
Get down to Tumpak Sewu Waterfall on ground level before the sun rises over the waterfall. The trail is right next to the viewpoint where you were for sunrise. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk down into the canyon and then about another 5 minutes to walk through the canyon to the waterfall.
The trail down is pretty sketchy with bamboo ladders and sections where you are walking through small streams but it is nothing too crazy. Just be prepared and definitely wear shoes, not flip-flops.
Once you reach the canyon you start to get an idea of the scale of the walls. You are an ant within the gorge and you know you are about to witness something incredible. After turning the final corner you will never forget the moment you enter the cauldron at the foot of Tumpak Sewu Waterfall. It is pure magic with more than thirty different waterfalls plummeting down into the cauldron into tiny pools below.
I advise you at this point to understand that you will get wet, it will be gusty and your camera and electronics should be put away or protected. There are several great viewpoints and rock lookouts within the canyon but do beware, these rocks are permanently wet so they are incredibly slippery.
Cover your gear and go explore the waterfalls. It’s incredibly cold but some of the best times you will ever have!
The journey is not over! Next just around the corner is another waterfall called Goa Tetes that is another incredible spot!
GOA TETES WATERFALL
From Tumpak Sewu you will see signs pointing towards Goa Tetes. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk to Goa Tetes from the foot of Tumpak Sewu. You know when you have arrived because all of the walls are orange!
Goa Tetes is essentially a collection of caves and waterfalls all the way up the cliff. Most people view it only from the bottom of the gorge and then return to the stairs they came down to visit Tumpak Sewu. Huge mistake! You haven’t even seen the glory of Goa Tetes yet. Below is a drone shot showing the wall of Goa Tetes on the right.
Head around the corner to the right and there is a trail leading up to the cliff. Follow this trail for about ten minutes. You will be walking through the stream and it is very slippery. Don’t try and avoid getting your shoes wet, to be safe you will need to wade through water throughout most of this journey.
Continue walking up the stream and always veer left and eventually you will see the caves. From here the adventure is up to you with so many different caves to explore. We scaled one cave in particular and it went really far back into darkness, while the waterfall poured down over the top of us. Absolutely incredible!
LEAVING THE CANYON
This part isn’t necessary but is a good little tip. Once you are at Goa Tetes you can continue up the same trail you are on. You can see the stairs to your right leading up the cliff. This trail will lead you back to the homestay and the entrance of Tumpak Sewu. Otherwise, you have to go all the way down Goa Tetes and then back up the trail to the Tumpak Sewu Waterfall viewpoint.
WHERE IS TUMPAK SEWU (COBAN SEWU)
Tumpak Sewu Waterfall (Coban Sewu) can be accessed from two sides of the canyon. The most popular side is the Lumajang side. Below is a pinned location of the entrance goat to Tumpak Sewu viewpoint, which is where the trail down into the canyon is also located.
As you can see on the map below, there is a homestay called, Edi Travel Home Stay. This is where we stayed for two nights as we explored Tumpak Sewu, Goa Tetes, Kabut Pelangi, Coban Sriti and Kapas Biru all in two days!
If you need to contact Edi Travel Home Stay to make a booking you can message Mas Yanto on Whatsapp: +62 853 3123 8963
Tumpak Sewu is almost a five-hour drive from Surabaya but only a couple of hours from Malang. The roads out here are quite stressful to drive on because the trucks are transporting their loads to and from the mines and they take up a lot of the road. I was run off the road once and had to concentrate really hard to get us there safely. On a bike, it is a bit easier to pass by the trucks.
I highly suggest staying two nights because there are more than five epic waterfalls all within a short distance in this area.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM TUMPAK SEWU WATERFALL
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your @adventurebagcrew on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories to be featured and inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
MORE EAST JAVA TRAVEL GUIDES
The Ultimate Guide: 15 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN EAST JAVA
Mount Bromo without a guide: MOUNT BROMO WITHOUT A TOUR: SUNRISE VIEWPOINTS, HIKES, MAPS
Ijen Crater Trek: IJEN CRATER TREK AND THE BLUE FLAME
Madakaripura Waterfall: MADAKARIPURA WATERFALL
Island hopping in East Java: TABUHAN ISLAND & MENJANGAN ISLAND BOAT TOUR
East Java Beaches: PAPUMA BEACH AND PAYANGAN BEACH