BROMO CALDERA, a beautiful mountain in East Java

Visit the Bromo caldera last May, our goal was to sleep in the village of Cemoro Lawang because it is at the heart of the action. There are hotels and “homestays” located a few kilometers away, but you would then be dependent on jeeps to get to the viewpoint in the middle of the night.

From Yogyakarta, we first went to the big city of Probolinggo by train. Two trains leave Yogyakarta in the morning, around 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. The journey takes approximately 9 hours. The seats are not very comfortable, there is little leg room, but it is very clean and there are power outlets available. Train times are easily found on the Internet or book train tickets online via Traveloka apps.

Arrived at Probolinggo, yellow bemos wait in front of the station. These are vans that serve as shared taxis. Other tourists will get off the same train as you, so get on with them. Then the scam (or almost) is well established, because when you claim the bus terminal, they will in fact drop you in front of a tourist minibus agency. The rates offered by the agency are not excessive, at 60,000 IDR / 4,5 USD per person with good conditions of comfort. The minibus leaves as soon as it is full and the climb to Cemoro Lawang takes 1.5 hours.

Sleep in Cemoro Lawang

It’s a real problem. Since most tourists leave after half a night, few owners make the effort to offer beautiful rooms. If comfort is not your priority, it is very easy to find a free room without reservation, even in high season. Ask around as soon as you get out of the bus and in less than two minutes you can drop off your luggage. However, you will understand, the price / quality ratio will be poor: between 150,000 IDR/ 12 USD and 200,000 IDR /15 USD for a small dirty room seems to be the current price. Our homestay was called Yog Bromo but we are not sure to recommend it. Bring a meat bag as only the bottom sheet and a wool blanket are provided. No towel either. The lack of air conditioning is not a problem as it is cool.

If you want a little more comfort, book as soon as possible to find a place in a highly rated establishment. Again, that’s what we would do. But be careful, don’t rush. The majority of hotels available online are far from the caldera, which will not be practical at all to follow our hiking tips later in the article. Book in the village glued to the crater and not in the back villages, you can easily go wrong.

The top rated accommodation while being close to the starting point of the hike is the Guesthouse Gunung Bromo (~ 45 USD).

Another cheaper option is the Bromo Otix Guest House (~ 20 USD), tested and approved by our readers.

Eating at Cemoro Lawang

Cafe Lava is the most famous restaurant in town. Now this restaurant is a calamity. Half the menu was not available, the service was disastrous and they cooked us the worst possible version of the dishes we ordered. Special mention for the tomato soup: pieces of raw tomatoes floating in a cup of hot water!

The alternative we found on the second evening is Cemara Indah, more expensive but with decent food, good wifi and large, rather pleasant room.

Readers tell us about another address they spotted: “To eat, very pleasant surprise, just after the village fork (where the public buses are waiting) in the direction of Cemara Indah. There is a warung with a red facade (on the right). PS: the facade is more of a wood color than red according to other readers, who also approve of the address.

Walk in the caldera and on Mount Bromo

If you are still motivated, we advise you to continue on this good streak and to walk in the Bromo caldera on foot rather than by jeep or motorbike.

Mount Bromo in activity, Indonesia

Again, it’s simple, and it’s even free! The main path is chargeable (and expensive), but there is an alternative passage in the middle of the village. Nobody buys it and it is used by the people of the village and their horses, so it must be believed that it is not so illegal to borrow it. We took 1.5 hours from the village to the top of the Bromo crater, 3 hours in total with the return. At the start the volcano seems close but it is an optical effect. It’s surely also easier and faster when the ashes do not fly. If you don’t want to walk, you can easily find jeeps or motorbikes that will approach you a few hundred meters from the volcano. Then it’s horses that can take you up the stairs. But on the latter, you will have to climb without help.

Some additional tips for the sunrise over Bromo

  • We used our cell phone flashlight, which saved us from investing in a headlamp. The battery holds surprisingly long.
  • You don’t really need a hat (even though some hat sellers guarantee it’s freezing cold at the top of the mountain). We were hot during the hike, it’s only the wait at the top which is a little cool. With two pullovers, an anorak and socks as mittens (!), We were fine.
  • You will meet other tourists during the climb, so you will never be completely alone in the dark, do not panic!
  • This hike is free because it does not pass inside the park. Do not listen to those who tell you otherwise.

Some additional tips on the Bromo caldera

  • There are days with dust and days without dust. In our case there were many, which did not prevent us from embarking on the adventure.
  • Take a scarf or scarf that allows you to both breathe and see through. Even if there is little dust in the caldera, there will be some at the top of the crater.
  • Don’t forget to put on sunscreen. It is at altitude and the white of the ashes reflects the light a little like snow. Result, we ended up a little red even though we had spread. And putting cream on top is not easy, with all the dust flying!
  • Provide water, we have
  • Bring some water, we drank almost a liter each.
  • Watch out for cameras. For example, dust can get into the inner workings of the zoom and block it.

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