Bucket List: Mount Bromo
Despite our excitement to settle down in Bali, we wanted to make sure we saw a bit more of Indonesia beforehand so we flew into Yogyakarta. We’re last minute people so we had no particular ideas in mind until a recommendation to visit Mount Bromo. I’m sure this is probably a place we should’ve known about but hey what’s travelling for if not to broaden our knowledge.
The Night Before
From Yogyakarta, we took an 8 hour train ride to Probolinggo and stayed at Clover Homestay. We booked our Bromo tour through them as we’d just got off an overnight train and didn’t fancy organising the trip by ourselves; plus, we had previously read how good the owner is when dealing with last minute Bromo tours. However, we’ve read that it’s not difficult to go at it alone and this way you’ll save yourself a whole bunch. So, we went with the Sunrise on Mount Penanjakan and early morning Mount Bromo visit.
So when it came to booking, the owner at Clover said he will try his best to fit us in a car with other people to limit our spend. However, as we booked very last minute we were unable to join another group and as you can imagine the private tour is way too expensive for us. So we went with the cheaper option: on the back of a motorcycle with local drivers.
A painful 2.30am wake up call and we were ready to go. Drivers waiting downstairs, all geared up in their leathers and helmets but where were ours? After no response on the helmet front, we were on our way.
After speeding down empty roads, the adrenaline rush began to wear off and thoughts of newspaper headlines sprung to mind. We’re worse case scenario people I’m afraid. After a little skid, amongst a number of bumpy roads and tight corners, Hayley made the executive decision that there was no way we were riding back on the motorbikes. Luckily, Luke’s driver was very understanding and helped us plan our return trip in a car with no problems. We thought we’d mention this because we saw a lot of others on the back of a bikes not wearing helmets, that were zooming around the windy roads up to Bromo.
Don’t make our mistake, wear a helmet people!
For Mount Penanjakan we suggest you wear every layer you have as temperatures sit around 10 degrees Celsius. We were severely under dressed and it was bloody freezing! When we say under dressed, Luke wore shorts and a shirt and had his motorbike driver laugh at him the whole journey, pointing out everyone who was wearing trousers. That said, if you’re foolish like us guys, on your way up there are vendors that sell tea, coffee, beanies, scarves and gloves if you really can’t handle the cold. As you can imagine, we took a minute to sit by the fire with a hot coffee.
After your coffee break at the Penanjakan drop off point, you begin to walk up for the view of Bromo. After a short walk you reach viewpoint no.1, a platform which is very popular for viewing Bromo at sunrise. However, it can get quite crowded so we decided to keep walking up to King Kong Hill (despite the drivers warnings that Hayley couldn’t make it, we got our hike on). It was a tough walk up especially in the dark, with sections where you literally have to climb rocks, but so worth it for the view and with only a small gathering. Once the sun began to rise there was a perfect silence, an appreciation and a few camera clicks. The atmosphere really was something!
Unfortunately, our photography skills, and probably tiredness, restricted us from getting a good sunrise shot.
Then it was time to start heading towards Mount Bromo.
The journey to Bromo, particularly crossing the sea of sand, is done either in a jeep, on a bike or of course you can walk; but it is a very long walk!
The sea of sand looks abolsutely epic with a moon-esque kinda feel.
From the base of Bromo you either walk or take a horse ride to the base of the stairs that lead up to the crater. We strongly advise just walking. It’s not a long or a difficult walk and to be honest the ride up on a horse didn’t look too smooth. As you keep walking you notice that it gets a tad difficult to breathe and you’ll most likely have a major coughing fit from the sulphur fumes but it’s all good, keep going!
Top Tip: Bring a face mask, bandanna or t-shirt to cover your mouth and hopefully help your breathing a little.
Once you’ve reached the base of the crater, venture up the stairs in a painfully slow queue, where you’re kinda nudged and barged and it becomes quite unpleasurable. At the top and on the edge of Bromo’s crater we had a very quick peek in to the volcano and Hayley was done; it feels really daunting looking into an active volcano that’s roaring and emitting smoke and ash. It’s pretty damn thrilling though!
Why we only had a peek? The masses of sulphur smoke becomes very unbearable very quickly, irritating the eyes and your breathing!
When you’re happy, it’s time to make your decent back to your jeep that should be waiting for you. I say should because our jeep driver gave us a time limit of 1.5 hours, so when we returned bang on the time we agreed, our driver was nowhere to be found. Prior to visiting Bromo we had read that sometimes drivers will up and leave without you, leaving you (essentially) stranded and having to pay MORE money to get home. We thought this was the case with us and spent a good 10-15 minutes looking at every jeep’s licence plate to see if it was ours. It wasn’t. After another 10-15 minutes waiting our guy finally turned up acting as if nothing is wrong.
Train from Yogya to Probolinggo (for 2 persons) – Rp. 465,000 – £27
Clover Homestay (1 night) – Rp. 200,000 – £12
Sunrise & Bromo tour (through Clover for 2 persons) – RP. 1,100,000 – £64