Mount Bromo Sunrise Tour and Crater Hike

After my unexpected visit to the little-known craters of the Dieng Plateau, Courtney and I made the long and tiring journey across Java to visit one of Indonesia’s best-known and most active volcanoes–Mount Bromo. Our plan was to endure the nine hour bus ride from Yogyakarta to Cemoro Lawang via Probolinggo, and arrive with plenty of time to figure out how to hike Mount Bromo the following day.

Yet, as often happens with budget overland travel in developing countries, things didn’t exactly go as planned.

Seventeen hours and two flat tires later, we finally reached Cemoro Lawang at midnight–exhausted, frustrated and nearly defeated.

We had wanted to visit the volcano independently, as we’d both read that the national park is easily reachable and far more enjoyable when explored on one’s own. But after arriving at such a late hour without plans or an idea of where to go, we succumbed to paying a few extra dollars and followed the crowds on a 3:00am Mount Bromo sunrise tour instead.

There are countless agencies offering Mount Bromo sunrise tours and, to be completely honest, I’m not even sure which company we chose. All agencies seem to offer the same product: transport to Cemoro Lawang, accommodation, a 3am Jeep ride to see the sunrise, transport to the Bromo crater and then a ride back to Probolinggo.

Our tour came with accommodation options ranging from luxurious to basic. Courtney and I chose the cheapest accommodation package and realized immediately that the basic option meant we’d spend the night breathing through our mouths and laying on towels and scarves to create a barrier between us and the bed.

Trying not to think about the bugs, the stench of stagnant urine or the musty sheets, I bundled up in all my warmest clothes and collapsed for two hours of sleep.

At 3am, we piled into the Jeep and followed hundreds of similar vehicles up the mountainside in a cloud of exhaust. When we reached the top, throngs of people were already practically piled on top of each other–selfie sticks in the air–waiting for the volcano to reveal itself. In complete darkness, Courtney and I carved out a little space in the crowd and waited for the sun to emerge.

As the minutes ticked by, the sky slowly lightened and I began to see the shapes of the mountains form. With time, the faint outlines of volcanic ridges grew thicker and thicker. The rising sun cast a golden light on the volcano.

We gasped.

The view took my breath away. It was stunning. It was awe-inspiring. It was every bit as surreal and majestic as I had imagined it would be.

Mt Bromo Volcano at Sunrise, Mt Bromo Sunrise Tour

Mount Bromo at Sunrise

A few of the travelers we had met on the long and agonizing journey from Yogyakarta, had decided to explore the volcano on their own, without a tour. In order to make it to the top for sunrise, our travel companions skipped out on a nap and began their hike as soon as we arrived in Cemoro Lewang. They followed the Jeeps up the mountain in a cloud of exhaust, arrived at the viewpoint after those of us on the tour had already carved out the best spots in the crowd and only saved a few dollars in the process.

We later learned that an alternative path takes hikers on a shorter route up the mountain, away from the vehicles. Yet, since we arrived in Cemorro Lawang after dark, our companions didn’t have time to ask around for information. They followed their intuitions and walked up the clearly marked road instead.

When Courtney and I realized that we would have likely followed in their footsteps had we foregone the Mount Bromo sunrise tour, we were happy with the choice we’d made.

Mount Bromo Sunrise

Mount Bromo Volcano at Sunrise

From where we witnessed the sunrise, our Jeep took us back down the hill toward the the Bromo volcano itself. Mount Bromo sits in a large, flat expanse of sand inside the Tengger Caldera. Though it is not the tallest active volcano in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, it is certainly the most famous.

Mt Bromo Volcano

Mount Bromo Volcano

Mt Bromo Volcano Hike

Volcano in the Tengger Caldera

From where the jeep left us off, we began our half hour roundtrip walk to the lip of the Mount Bromo crater. The short hike to the crater of Mount Bromo crosses a sea of undulating sand, a Hindu temple and a smaller volcanic peak with wave-like ridges. Behind me, I could see steam rising from the sea of wet sand.

At the Rim of the Mt Bromo Volcano

Top of Mount Bromo

Like the active Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, I saw smoke rising from the volcano’s bowl-shaped cavity and could hear its thundering roar. The deafening noise shook me to my core. Though I’d hiked up volcanoes before, knowing how active Indonesia’s volcanoes have been in recent years, nearly had me sprinting down the mountainside with every audible rumble.

Mount Bromo Sunrise Tour, Erupting Volcano

Mt Bromo’s Active Crater

Staring into the fuming crater was awesome. It was powerful. It rattled me and shook me and pumped my adrenaline a million miles a minute. I was exhausted from my long journey and from lack of sleep, yet I was also exhilarated, awestruck and full of wonder.

And suddenly, the long and tiring bus ride from Yogyakarta to Mount Bromo, seemed like nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

***

Note: Those hoping to visit the volcano without a tour, might want to check out Mike’s guide to hiking Mount Bromo for free.

Erika Bisbocci

Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Erika Bisbocci

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About Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

32 Comments

  1. THIS IS UNREAL. Like, I see this photo and I’m thinking of National Geographic. We are heading to Malaysia this December and I’m not sure we’ll get to hike up a volcano, but this has just put visiting Indonesian even higher on my list.

  2. Wow – seriously stunning guys. I’m not a big fan of 3am mornings, or of long bus rides, but this sounds absolutely worthwhile!

  3. I don’t think I could have done it either, especially after hearing about your sleeping arrangements, but sometimes those sacrifices are what bring you the greatest rewards on the other end, so it’s good to hear that you enjoyed the trek and it was worthwhile.

  4. Stunning pictures! I was born in Jakarta but I have never been to Mt. Bromo before. I like hiking volcanoes so I’m going to put this on my list! Glad your nightmare of a bus ride paid off 😉

  5. Wowwww……Amazing Pictures. Next international tour is going to be Mt. Bromo.

  6. What an adventure! I think that the 17 hour bus ride and nasty accommodations were worth that view. What a spectacular vista!
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  7. Your pictures are stunning!! That has to make the long and awful journey worth it in the end though. I have never been to the rim on an active volcano, but I’m sure ever rumble would totally put me on edge too!
    Valerie recently posted…3 Weeks in EuropeMy Profile

  8. Wow, what an experience. I don’t think I could have done it on 2 hours sleep but kudos to you. I’m glad the view was worth it. Sometimes you’ve just got to follow the tourists … usually when you’re pressed for time.

  9. Incredible!! Those photos are gorgeous- definitely looks like it was well worth all the hassle of getting there:-)
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  10. Wow, totally worth waking up at 3 AM!! Gorgeous photos and great post, thanks for sharing 🙂
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted…Exploring Madrid, Spain: My Top 10 Picks!My Profile

  11. One day, probably not anytime soon, but one day, I am going to actually get up and watch a sunrise. It’s sooo early but definitely looks like it’s worth it!
    Carly Moore recently posted…5 Unique Things About Ireland You Probably Don’t KnowMy Profile

  12. Wow, I can just imagine the adrenaline pumping!! I’ve seen volcanoes in Guatemala, but never up close. It must be so amazing. And your photos are so beautiful. It was definitely worth the trip!
    Vicky and Buddy recently posted…Dinner And A Show At The Mai-Kai In Fort Lauderdale, FloridaMy Profile

  13. Your account is awesome! Thanks for sharing!
    Julieadexter.wordpress.com

  14. I have experienced the same challenges with transportation in Indonesia so understand your frustration. What a wonderful experience you had hiking up the volcano, however. The photos are incredible and really enjoyed reading about your adventure.
    Christine K recently posted…5 (G-Rated) Reasons You Should Consider Staying in Japanese Love HotelsMy Profile

  15. Ah I’m so jealous now! I was supposed to go there when I was in Indonesia last month but I ended up in the hospital with dengue fever and hardly saw anything of Java 🙁
    It looks like it is worth going back for though!

  16. wow, you got one of the best days to see it, I went and it was foggy that morning and thousands were very disappointed, but it cleared later walking up to the caldera which was scary but amazing!

  17. It’s so hard to know whether a DIY experience or the tour will be the better thing. Sounds like you lucked out with this one. Those sunrise shots are GREAT

  18. Sounds like you had quite the adventure but it was all worth it! Sometimes the trip is more rewarding when there are a few unexpected events that take place. Glad you were able to enjoy it and made the right decision about taking the tour!
    Bryanna recently posted…15 Tips For Hiking With KidsMy Profile

  19. It looks like an amazing experience, despite the long journey to get there. I think joining a tour was possibly the best way to visit this volcano. Those beautiful sunrise pictures of Mt. Bromo are really stunning.
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  20. We’ve only been to Bali in Indonesia, but I absolutely can’t wait to go back to the country as a whole and see more, bc every time I see photos or read stories of another island or part of Indonesia, it is just breath taking!!!!
    LeAnna Brown recently posted…5 Alternatives to Edelweiss Resort and Lodge in GarmischMy Profile

  21. Wow! This is amazing and such the adventure. Sounds like it was all worth it in the end. The volcano looks very photogenic in the morning light.

  22. I love this story! Such an adventure! And the photos you have are the kinds that I only ever see in magazines – epic once-in-a-lifetime experiences filled with intense beauty (the volcano looks surreal).

  23. That is absolutely amazing. Breathtaking scenery. I would love to go there but I would have chosen a most luxurious accommodation. It seems you had a night from hell but the tour really worths it.
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  24. Oh wow! This looks incredible! Amazing pictures, you feel as if youre right there with you!
    Joe Ankenbauer recently posted…The Road Less Traveled: Mulholland Scenic ParkwayMy Profile

  25. Wow, 17 hours. What a bummer. At least your trip resulted in those amazing shots and beauty. Funny, sometimes we have to go through hell to get to the other side. 😉 FABULOUS photos.
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  26. Wow–what a gorgeous area! Mount Bromo looks fantastic, especially at sunrise. The tour sounds like a great way to go–sometimes the extra cost is totally worth it. Looks like a great adventure!
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  27. The Mt. Bromo volcano looks so majestic at sunrise. I would love to head there just to have a glimpse of this awe inspiring natural phenomenon.
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  28. Wow, your pictures are stunning, they look unreal. I really enjoyed reading your post. I love hiking and i use every opportunity to hike on the mountains around. However i am far from this type of hiking, but it sounds very exciting and hope to experience something like this soon!

  29. Looks like it was worth the journey, I’ve never seen anything quite like that. If I didn’t know any better I’d have thought it was another planet!
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  30. Wow that’s incredible. What a hike but totally worth it for those views. I would love to fly my drone over that creator, that would be spectacular!!!

  31. Thanks for sharing the beauty of Mt. Bromo Erika.
    If you have any other question related Mt. Bromo/Mt Ijen blue fire, we will help you as best as possible

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