Mount Bromo sunrise and the Sea of Sand

It has an altitude of 2.329m and despite not being the tallest peak of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, this famous volcano has attracted many tourists to Java, Indonesia since long time ago. Specially for the Mount Bromo sunrise, the biggest attraction. The native name is not Mount Bromo, but Gunung Bromo, and it comes from the Javanese translation of the Hindu God of Creation, Brahma.

Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint
Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint

How to get there

To arrive to Mount Bromo you will first have to reach Probolinggo, a city 45 kilometers away from the volcano. To get to Probolinggo you can do it by:

  • By bus: there are direct buses coming from may points of Java, the ones I am aware of are from Malang (2-3h bus with a cost of around 30.000 INR), from Surabaya, Banyuwangi (30.000-60.000 INR)
  • By minivan: The only one I am aware of is from Yogyakarta (be prepared for a full day bus). Although I am sure you might be able to find from other places, since it’s a very common way of transportation in Indonesia.
  • By train: There are trains coming either from Surabaya or from Banyuwangi (and with stopovers from Jakarta or Yogyakarta too). The schedules are not the best but at least you know quite easily the arrival time and the price. This is the website https://tiket.kereta-api.co.id, it’s only in Indonesian (you can use Google Chrome and with a right click option translate it quickly), but their prices are very good. For a 2h train from Surabaya to Probolinggo, in the website (or at the train station) you can find tickets for 45.000 INR.

From Probolinggo to Mount Bromo

Once you are in Probolinggo, there are only 3 ways to get to Mount Bromo (actually you will get to Cemoro Lawang, a village next to it):

  • By motorbike (only recommended if you feel OK with the Indonesian driving style, which European or North American might not feel too comfortable with) you will get offers while walking on the streets
  • By jeep: A couple of friends of mine took a jeep directly from Surabaya Airport and they paid 400.000 INR. Price per jeep, not per person.
  • By minibus: the most common option, and the cheapest, 35.000 INR if you make it to Probolinggo before 16:00, after that you will have to deal with scammers and they are likely to ask you a minimum of 70.000 INR, and up to 200.000 INR. I had to pay 150.000 INR to go up, but it included a night in a home stay, so it was worthy at the end.

Map of the Mount Bromo area

Accommodation near Mount Bromo sunrise

To sleep in Cemoro Lawang, you can make a reservation in advance using Booking.com or Agoda, or once you get there. There are enough options starting at 100.000-150.000 INR. Being the cheapest option a homestay. Hostels start at 150.000 INR.

Details of the hike to Mount Bromo sunrise

To get into the park you will need to pay two entrance fees. The first one, is 10.000 INR, and it’s only required to access into the outer part, right before the main entrance. In the main entrance, the National park guards will ask you for 230.000 INR per person. No matter how you enter, by foot, by jeep or by horse. Keep reading if you are interested in saving this second entrance fee, which in my opinion is an abuse, since the guards only keep the main entrance (they do not walk around the park nor clean anything that bad tourists or locals leave after them).

Normally, people would get up early the morning after they arrive (around 3AM), in order to go to the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint in Gunung Pananjakan. From here you would have an incredible view of Mount Bromo and it’s surroundings. The hike takes around 2 hours, depending on your pace. There will be a few places near the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint where to get water and food. There are different viewpoints, the most common one is the one that is nearer Cemoro Lawang (you can check it in the embedded map that I included at the end of the article). Use Maps.me to get the hiking route easily in your smartphone or tablet.

Mount Bromo panorama sunrise viewpoint
Mount Bromo panorama sunrise viewpoint

What to do after the Mount Bromo sunrise

From the Mount Bromo sunrise viewpoint, you can:

  • go up to other viewpoints and / or to Gunung Pananjakan peak
  • go back to Cemoro Lawang
  • or you can go through the Sea of Sand to Gunung Bromo.

Since I wanted to go back to Probolinggo earlier, I chose the last option and went down through the seasand. In the map below, you can see two blue waypoints, any of them are the ways you can go down to the Sea Sand without going to the main entrance at Cemoro Lawang. And these are the ways you can go through to avoid paying the entrance fee, since there aren’t guards.

I went through the first one, the one which is near the viewpoint. I tried hard to spot the way with no luck. There were no signs. So I used my smartphone to find the precise point, using the GPS. The way down to the Sea of Sand using the path near the sunrise viewpoint might be flooded. Neither me nor my friends had any issues with leeches here in the rainy season. However, it is walkable, since it only covers 10-15 centimeters of your shoes. I had rainproof high boots and no water came inside. It will be only 5 minutes of walking through the water / mud.

The other path, the one near Cemoro Lawang, it is entirely dry, although you will have to walk a bit more.

The waterproof boots I brought were these SalomonQuest 4D 2 GTX, which are for men. For women, I’d recommend these waterproof Berghaus Explorer Trek boots.

Mount Bromo Sea of Sand
Mount Bromo Sea of Sand

The way to Mount Bromo through the seasand is simply spectacular, it is a feeling hard to describe. In the wet season, the part near the viewpoint is quite full of life. Not as deserted as the terrain near Gunung Bromo and Gunung Batok (a dead volcano near Mount Bromo). It will take you approximately an hour and a half to cross the plain until you reach Gunung Bromo. There is a temple right before the way up to the volcano Bromo, and a toilet as well. Probably you will see some people selling drinks too. You will get offered to cross the rest of the Sea Sand with a horse. Which will let you right before the stairs to the volcano. I don’t think is really necessary, but that will be up to you of course.

Safety tips for the Mount Bromo sunrise and around

Be cautious and bring a mask or something to cover your mouth and nose, sometimes the volcano lets scape gases. It is normally safe though, and you will get advised to not go there if there is any issue. The last time there was an eruption was between November of 2015 and February of 2016, as you can check in the Wikipedia entry of this wonderful volcano.

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Mount Bromo sunrise and the Sea of Sand
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Mount Bromo sunrise and the Sea of Sand
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Mount Bromo sunrise and the Sea of Sand are a must see in Eastern Java. Check how to get there, where to sleep and how to avoid paying the entrance fee.
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