The most cost effective way of visiting Gunung Bromo is to get the public bus to Cemoro Lawang from just past the bus station. But after spending time on Indonesian buses I was no longer concerned about costs but comfort, safety and not having to get to near death through heat exhaustion and also the fact of having to wait a month for the bus to get full before it sets off. Also the fact we wanted to get there for sunrise ruled out the public bus. So we got a car and driver, the deal was that he picked us up, took us to Cemoro Lawang and waited for us while we did our thing and they took us back to the hotel. The cost for a car is usually around the 275,000IDR mark or £20. For a journey of almost an hour and half each way and waiting, it’s not a bad deal and certainly worth paying the extra for. But the bus would come to much less, I’m led to believe it’s about 8,000IDR per person (60 pence) whether you’d get it for that I don’t know. I don’t need to go through the obvious pros/cons of a car against a bus, but for us the best option by far was to get a car.
At 0345 we were in the lobby and the driver was already there so we climbed in the car and set off. The hotel had made up breakfast boxes for us which were made up of toast, fruit, water and a boiled egg.
It was hammering down with rain and pitch black as the car drove for a little over an hour almost constantly uphill on small winding mountain roads. I saw on the way back that the drops were huge, had I known this on the way up id have certainly asked the driver to slow down as he took the corners like a maniac.
The final village before the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National park is Cemoro Lawang. We got out of the car at a checkpoint and had to buy an entry permit, it is 25,000IDR but there was no charge for children, that said I never mentioned them so maybe if I had have they might have charged. If you haven’t got a coat then you can hire one here for about 10,000IDR, it is cold on the summit so we were well wrapped up.
It was still dark but the rain had stopped, the silence was deafening as we began the 2km walk from the village down a mud track toward the plain from which the volcano’s are accessed. There wasn’t a person in sight and it was eerily misty. Through the darkness we knew only where to go by following the black and white stones at the side of the track. About 10 minutes later a Jeep pulled up beside us and offered to take us over the lava/sand dunes to the base of Gunung Bromo. We got a good price and were suddenly off roading in darkness over the baron landscape at 5am.
It wasn’t long before we got out and we could see the shadow of Gunung Bromo, sunrise was about 30 minutes away and we headed up toward the summit, past the Hindu Temple and started to ascend the ridiculously steep volcano.
We finally got to the top and looked into the huge crater which had smoke bellowing out from the centre. The smell was like sulphur but the one thing which amazed us the most was the sheer size of the crater. It is huge, the sides of the volcano drop near vertically into the crater which looks like a miniature Grand Canyon with smoke coming out. It really was amazing, the volcano had no life at all on it and looks like the landscape we see on the moon, only with huge empty rivers down the side left by the lava.
To the side of Gunung Bromo is Gunung Tengger, in the picture above it is not done justice, I do not have the vocabulary to describe how breathtaking it is. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and the kids were as mesmerised as I was. Both Bromo and Tengger are overshadowed by Gunung Semeru which stands an eye watering 12,000ft high, that’s a whopping 2 miles high! It really has to be seen to be believed.
We spent a few hours at the summit, at times covered completely by mist where we could barely see each other. Suddenly everything would clear and it gave way to the amazing beauty of where we were.
When we finally decided to head down I got the kids a horse, it was 30,000IDR (£2) to the bottom (after some negotiation) and the whole surrealness of the kids descending a huge volcano on horseback set in front of the amazing Gunung Tengger was almost dreamlike. They were loving every minute of it and it was great to see the kids having such a memorable time.
Once at the bottom we grabbed another Jeep back to the checkpoint where we met our driver and headed back to Probolinggo after without question one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.
Coming to Gunung Bromo we expected to see what is one of the world’s most amazing sights, personally I rank it way above the Grand Canyon and any other scenery I have ever seen. Genuinely nothing comes close and a trip to Java for Bromo alone would be more than worth it. Lonely Planet describes it is a “Lunaresque landscape of epic proportions and surreal beauty, Gunung Bromo is one of Indonesia’s most breathtaking sights…This desolate landscape has a distinctly end of world feeling to it…” We were there for sunrise and what we experienced was a mystical, magical and breathtaking example of the beauty of nature and what is by far the single best view I have ever witnessed.

We got back to the hotel at about 10am and we climbed back into bed for a few hours sleep. The kids were off in no time and as I lay there listening to the Muslim prayer calls from the local mosque, I smiled and realised just how fortunate we really are.


Just a dad trying to live the dream with my kids.

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