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Destination: The Tales and Truth from Mount Bromo

Destination: The Tales and Truth from Mount Bromo

Bali is an alluring island and there’s simply no argument when it comes to the statements along those lines. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the neighboring islands don’t have their very own charming features to offer to travelers who set their heart on Bali as their main holiday destination.

If you happen to be one of those very lucky ones who are blessed with the gift of a long vacation, there is really nothing wrong with leaving Bali for a two or three days and go explore the amazing places on the surrounding islands. And no, it doesn’t count as cheating!  

The Bromo Semeru National Park, which is mostly referred to as Mount Bromo (unless for the ones whose main destination is Mount Semeru), is one of the wonderful destinations, which while located on the province right on the west to Bali, does offer an atmosphere and experience which is significantly distinctive from the great experiences that you might have been gratified with during your Bali getaway. One thing for sure is that once you get the area, all luxury hospitality facilities are completely off the menu; and that alone might be one of the many ‘new things to experience’.

Mount Bromo is an active volcano in East Java. The area is officially part of four different regencies; Pasuruan, Malang, Probolinggo, Lumajang; which surround the Tengger Massif where the volcano is located.  The volcano is located at 2,329 meters, and though it is not the highest peak of the massif, it’s considered to be the most known and most visited spot in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, as well as one of the most visited tourist attractions in the province of East Java.

Mount Bromo is surely delightful for every person who has the slightest interest in being outdoors playing in the raw beauty of the nature and appreciating Mother Nature for all the magic provided for us in all forms and shapes. The fact that it is a volcano, yet pretty much assessable to most people; including those who are not super in shape or in position to do extreme hiking, is a significant plus point too! That is one of the reasons why this place become very popular for those who want to have a taste of hiking a mountain, yet don’t really have the capacity of climbing the extreme tracks leading to most of the mountains in the country.

To get to Bromo from Bali, you can either fly out to Surabaya or Malang, or you can also take the option of having an entire Bali to Java road trip experience, which with the right company and/or sufficient love for road trips equals 11 hours of fun too. The most common road taken to the national park area is the one from the direction of Malang, taking the whole long way up through the forest up the slopes leading up to the village of Wonokitri in Tengger.

Tengger is an ancient village from the Majapahit Hindu era in Java. The name Tengger derives from the names Roro Anteng and Joko Seger (who was part of the Majapahit royal family), whom are believed to be the ancestors of the areas indigenous people.

 Legend has it that they had to sacrifice one of their sons, Jaya Kusuma, to the mountain, by letting him go down into the crater. That event was the very start of the Kesadha ceremony held at the crater of Mount Bromo every year in the Javanese month Asyuro. The ceremony has been held ever since, until these days, by both Hindus and Muslims of Tengger, despite the fact that this ritual is highly related to the practice of Hinduism in Java.  This ceremony was also the very reason why the locals of Tengger opened the road towards the mountain, long before the government got involved in any kind of way at all.

When you get to Tengger there are plenty of locally owned accommodations with nice views and very decent facilities. The people there are organized and professional and they are friendly and helpful in providing tour information as well as the other information you need to know about the area, up to the tiniest details.They are known to be honest, so there is really no need to haggle much around there.

Since April 2010, private vehicles have no longer been allowed to pass Tengger portal towards Bromo area. All tours have to use the services offered by the local companies which are all listed in the village corporation. They organize business in a way that it spreads equally amongst those who provide the services with their Toyota Land Cruisers, which are not only cool looking, but also completely appropriate and necessary for the nature of the wilderness which involves crazy steep ups and downs, and not to mention the sharp and surprising turns.

The tour normally offers the options of 2 destinations and 4 destinations. The option of two includes Puncak Penanjakan View Point for a magnificent sunrise and the main destination of the volcano. The option of four includes the two destinations above plus the Sea of Sand and the savanna. Either way, considering the first entry on the itinerary is watching the sunrise, the tour guide normally suggests for the guests to leave the accommodation around 3.30 – 4.00 am, which in Bromo translates into freezing o’clock.

Mount Penanjakan or locally referred to as Puncak Penanjakan is the highest point of the Tengger massif, which is at 2,770 m. The sunrise here is totally worth ‘freezing’ for. The temperature can go as low as 0°C, which is something to be prepared for in terms of what to wear and take with you. But don’t worry, in case you came unprepared, there are plenty of people selling socks, gloves, winter hats, and even renting out winter coats to keep you warm while waiting for the sun to come out and greet everyone.  

Once the sun comes out, it’d be perfect timing for you to enjoy the rest of the surrounding view, which is simply stunning. Another sensation not to miss is the perfect combination where the weather and atmosphere meets the coffee or tea accompanied by the delicious pisang goreng (banana fritties) the small stalls offer. Never underestimate how good these traditional treats can taste!

The next place would be the Sea of Sand which is also known as Segara Wedi (in Javanese) and Lautan Pasir (in Bahasa Indonesia). A place so astonishing in its very own dramatic way, that it’s hard to get the perfect string of words to get to a description that would actually do justice to its charm. The phrase Sea of Sand itself does indeed already speak for itself. However, how it is combined with the amazing background that shows of the volcano, hills and the unpolluted cloudy sky does bring a certain effect that enhances the entire picture.

A bit of a bumpy ride away from the Sea of Sand, lies the savanna. The different shades of yellow and green; adding some more color to what seems to be an endless carpet of sandy brown.  It’s a very pretty sight, made amazing by the green hills in the background, and the yellowish field of green all around; being almost all that can be caught by the eye from where we stand. It is the kind of place that calms our mind from outside noise; a place that will automatically reconnect with nature and if you’re lucky also the nature of your true self, on some level.

The last destination on the Bromo tour would be Mount Bromo itself. This destination is the one that requires the longest time, since it involves hiking from the parking spot up until the point where you will find the stairs that lead up to the crater of the volcano.


There are horses lined up and people offering the service of riding the horse up to the stairway for a very decent fee. However, for many the hike and the sense of accomplishment after the hike is what matters a lot as well. But hey, it is always good to know that the horses are have your back, whenever you feel like you need to save the little energy you still have for the stairs.

The view up here is incredible as well. Guaranteed, you will stop to take pictures during the entire hike. In each angle, each step, there is always something that you must admire and take a shot of. The hike is not too heavy considering that the track is pretty easy, not too steep nor slippery most times. However, it is also not to underestimate, it still requires some good motivation and effort, especially for the ones that are not exactly the hiking types. There are small stalls selling drinks along the way up, so you don’t really have to overload your backpack with water bottles; might make a small difference in the effort you put in! 

Around 250 steps up the stairs later, you will find yourself on the highest peak of Mount Bromo, right by the caldera, with a dazzling view right in front of you.

Since it is an active volcano, there is always a chance that you’re there on a day that the sulfur cooking inside the caldera causes a rather strong smell that would probably make you cough while kind of struggling for fresh air. In that case, aside from wearing a mask for precaution, it’s be best to climb down the stairs right after reaching your personal ‘victory’ of snapping some shots from the top.

The time spent for this entire 4-destination Bromo tour varies on how much time you spend on each site. But from our experience, the tour guide who is also the off road driver, doesn’t really put a strict curfew on this tour. However, the tour normally ends around 10 am. And that would be enough time for you experience the magic of Bromo, as well as tire yourself out!

So, what are you waiting for? Father Mountain is calling for you to hop on to East Java!

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March, 2018
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