Mount Bromo is the most popular volcano to visit in Indonesia, and thousands of tourists flock to this sight every year. The journey here was a roller coaster in itself, so instead of ending this post on transport like I usually do, I will start with it. Catching an 8 hour night train from Yogyakarta to Malang, (economy AC for 170 thousand rupiah), meant we managed to catch a few hours of precious sleep. Arriving in Malang we caught 2 angkots to the destination of Tampung. Choosing this direction to go to Mount Bromo meant that we avoided venturing through Probollingo, so the journey would be shorter and cheaper, and this route also goes through the main entrance of the national park of Bromo allowing you to take in the magnificent and beautiful scenery. We found two options to choose from to go to Bromo from here, either an ojek, or jeep. Head straight through the market in Tampung to the yellow house covered with stickers all over the windows, if you decide to take the sensible and more expensive option. The father and son organise jeeps to Cemoro Lawang (the town on the crater of Mount Bromo) for 650 thousand, a fixed rate that is ‘regulation’. The family are warming providing sweet tea and a place to rest your weary feet. However, being short on time and with no other tourists in sight to lighten the cost, our only option was to take a motorbike taxi for 120 thousand rupiah.
We took ojeks, speeding hough the town with 17kg on my back and having an adrenaline junkie for a driver, I was little anxious to say the least. We whizzed past chilli plantations, rice fields, and thick dense forestry until my drivers bike died. Contemplating my options for a while, I began to worry, until he magically fixed it (until it broke a few minutes later). With a little bit of ol gaffa tape, we were on the road again, reaching the entrance of the park, which looked like a scene from Jurassic Park. Paper Mache mountains point up to the sky as if wanting to touch the top of the world circle the crater, whilst dry marshlands lay flat in the centre.
My mad driver and I descended a bumpy and rocky death defying journey. Clinging on for dear life and balancing myself was tough, but we managed to reach the middle of this giant bowl of land, where pink flowers bloomed on bushes and waving sand led us in the right direction. Approaching a thick blanket of mist and a landscape where vegetation starved and died, created a contrasting landscape that appeared bleak and sparse. A desert of black sand engulfed us as my driver pointed out the crater of Mount Bromo, whilst watching its gaping mouth blow smoke rings. The bike began to swift and swerve and my heart began to flutter with it, I shouted to “watch the road”, and he merely chuckled back at me. Luckily we made it Cemero Lawang in one piece. Although a thrilling journey, I advise to get a jeep.
The hike up to the top of Mount Bromo does not require much fitness as its large influx of tourists that visit here means an easy accessible path has been constructed. Walking through volcanic sand and cut out ridges where lava once chewed up and spat out pieces of land, you reach the bottom of a number of steps. Follow the steps up (equal to about 30 minutes on a step master), you reach the rim of the crater. As the volcano burps and gargles, local townspeople give offerings in the form of flowers and food wrapped in banana leaves, muttering sweet nothings to this once disastrous volcano. Looking around, it resembled a similar landscape of my trek up Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, as if on the moon: empty, destructive and ghostlike.
To return to town it is roughly a 3k walk down the steps, over the vast ocean of gravel like sand and a rather large hill that leaves you gasping for breath. Many head to the Viewpoint (either 1 or 2) which is roughly 5k up a hill from town. Sunrise, when blessed with good weather, makes the morning frost walk a mere blip in the journey. Views of swirling mist circling the volcano of Mount Bromo and its neighbour Mount Semeru, can be seen whilst the sun spreads its brilliant rays, displaying glorious colours of red and orange, as if a reflection of the lava inside Mount Bromo itself.
Accommodation options are quite limited, however we stayed at Cafe Lava hostel– known by the Lonely Planet, in their economy rooms. The rooms are quite basic but clean and comfortable, and the shared bathroom is the nicest bathroom I experienced throughout my time in Indonesia. The amazing hot water showers are a godsend. Rooms are 175 thousand rupiah and if you pay an extra 40 thousand rupiah, it includes a massive tasty buffet breakfast, which you can easily feast on to get your moneys worth.