- Elevation: 2,782 m (9,127 ft)
- Prominence: 586 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Jawa Timur (East Java)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: Penanjakan.
- Eruptions: Bromo 1804, 1815, 1820, 1822, 1825, 1829-30, 1835, 1842-44, 1856-60, 1865-68, 1877, 1885, 1885-87, 1890, 1893, 1896, 1906-10, 1915-16, 1921-22, 1928, 1930, 1935, 1939-40, 1948, 1950, 1955-56, 1972, 1980, 1983-84, 1995, 2000-01, 2004, 2010-11, 2019
Bromo is probably the most popular volcano attraction in Indonesia. Situated in the middle of the “Sea of Sand” (lautan pasir), the ancient crater of the Tengger caldera, Bromo itself is only around 2,329 metres high. The perfect ridged cone of Gunung Batok next to Bromo stands taller at 2,447m and the surrounding crater rim is higher in many places, with the highest peak being Gunung Pananjakan (2,782m, also spelt Penanjakan).
It is from Pananjakan that thousands of people watch the sun rise with Bromo and Batok in the crater below, and Java’s highest peak Semeru brooding in the background. Gunung Pananjakan is not a Ribu because of the proximity of the much taller Gunung Semeru, but the spectacular view is well worth “Spesial” status – the Sea of Sand, the Hindu temple, the beautiful cone of Gunung Batok, gases rising from Bromo’s crater, and the menacing Semeru in the distance.
The only problem is that you don’t have to earn the fantastic view – there is a road that leads from Sea of Sand up to within ten or twenty metres of the summit of Pananjakan, and most people take well organised trips by four-wheel drive jeeps or motorbikes for the sunrise. On a busy weekend the viewing points can be a circus, and there are usually hundreds of jeeps lining the road near the Pananjakan summit. However, there is a really pleasant way to hike and bag this special peak, avoiding the crowds until the last 15 minutes, especially if you approach Bromo from the Probolinggo route in.
Most people stay in Cemoro Lawang (also spelt Cemara Lawang), which is is the closest village and literally perched on edge of the north side of Tengger crater rim (2,350m). Despite the number of people that pass though, Cemoro Lawang is a lovely place and the farmland of mostly cabbages and corn fields cover the slopes of the crater rim away to the north, and terraces reach up the steep sides of Pananjakan. There is good hostel accommodation here and also a camp ground with views directly of the Sea of Sand and Bromo.
To earn the sunrise on Bromo, you start your hike at around 3:15 am from Cemoro Lawang, walking along the road that runs west along the rim edge (the road is the right turn about 50 metres before you get to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park entrance). You quickly leave the congregating jeeps behind; keep going straight along the crater edge, and in approximately 30 minutes the road begins to climb a little. At the end of the paved road continue straight on the path into shrubby forest.
Even with a full moon, you will need a torch. The path is mostly paved, although a little overgrown, so make sure to follow the paved route as it zigzags upwards. After another 30 minutes you reach a large covered photo spot (Seruni viewpoint, 2,434m) which might be deserted at 4:15 am, and likely sees few visitors because of the need to hike uphill for 30 minutes!
With a strong moon, Bromo and its clouds of white gas will be visible, as well as the lights and sounds of the jeeps roaring across the Sea of Sand. The trail up to the summit of Pananjakan continues from here; leave the viewpoint and turn left, uphill, and follow the zigzag path that makes its way up the steep slope – the next viewpoint should be 45 mins hike, and as you approach it you will hear the crowds.
If the hike took longer than planned, this is a good place to watch the sunrise, but otherwise continue on the trail for a few minutes before emerging onto the paved road lined with jeeps and motorbikes. Turn right, uphill, and pass all the parked vehicles for about 15 mins – the entrance to the Pananjakan summit viewpoint is on the right and very obvious – there are several warungs (stalls) selling souvenirs, tea/coffee, food, hats and gloves, and local barbecued corn. The summit can be packed, and it can be good to descend some steps to right and stand on the steep grassy slope for unimpeded views. From the summit, you can see the famous scene of Bromo, Batok and Semeru.
After taking more photographs than you ever thought possible of Bromo, you can also see Gunung Argopuro and probably Gunung Raung to the east. Once you’re finished at the summit, return to the road where you can also see Gunung Arjuno and Gunung Welirang to the west and also Gunung Butak further southwest. Just north of Arjuno you might be able to see the relatively small Gunung Penanggungan.
The route on the road with the motorbikes has many more great photo opportunities and you can take one of the many ojeks on offer (motorcycle taxi) – don’t forget to bargain! If you wisely choose to hike back and shun motorised transport, don’t miss the path on the left that brought you onto the road before dawn. The hike back the same way is very different in daylight, and there are numerous great photo opportunities – the views of the farmland on the rim as you descend are also wonderful.
It is also essential to walk down into the crater from Cemoro Lawang and across the Sea of Sand to Bromo, which is possible in same morning after a well-earned breakfast. At the foot of Bromo is the sacred Poten temple where every year at full moon on every 14th day of the Kasada Month the traditional Kasodo or Kasada ceremony is held. The Tengger people throw offerings into the crater to ask for a good harvest and for the healing of various ailments. Near the temple there are a few hundred steps to reach edge of Bromo and peer inside, and across to Batok and Pananjakan.
Bromo crater rim above the steps is only around 2,286m in elevation, and the 2,329m figure given as the official height of Bromo actually only refers to the northern and more accessible section of the rim. The true highest point of the Bromo rim is actually 2,398 metres high according to the Bakosurtanal map, and is to the south-east of the crater. This is pretty tough and potentially dangerous to reach both clockwise and anti-clockwise, along knife-edged crumbly ridges, so most prefer to enjoy the view and return back down to the sea of sand.
One alternative for adventurous hikers is to continue west (anti-clockwise) and head up onto Gunung Widodaren (2,590m) which is a rarely-visited peak. Allow several hours for this and take a guide. Less than one kilometre south of Widodaren is an even higher yet more obscure top – Gunung Watangan (2,601m) – which very few people visit.
Pasuruan and Tosari approach:
If approaching from the Pasuruan route you can stay at one of the simple homestays in Tosari (1,700m) which is about 2.5 or 3 hours drive from Surabaya’s Juanda Airport. The advantage to this approach is that it is slightly closer to Juanda and slightly less touristy than Cemoro Lawang.
Like many villages on the higher slopes of the Tengger region, the local people of Tosari are mostly Hindu, with a few Christians and Muslims living happily alongside them. You will see many small temples and shrines by the side of the road and it is easy to forget that you are not on a mountain road in Bali. Common vegetable produce here includes delicious local potatoes and onions.
Have your homestay owner arrange ojeks or a jeep to pick you up at 4am (ojek price around Rp200-250,000 per motorbike in 2019 – remember to insist on a helmet!) and drive you the 40 minutes up the steep road leading through farmland and casuarina trees to Pananjakan. Remember sweaters/jumpers, jackets and even a woolly hat if you have one because at over 2,700m the viewpoint for sunrise is very cold by Indonesian standards.
Less than ten minutes up the road from Tosari is the office where you will be asked to purchase an entry ticket before continuing up towards Pananjakan. Before Pananjakan is Bukit Cinta (Love Hill, 2,500m) which is usually clogged with jeeps and locals selling snacks and scarves at the weekend. This is the first of the major viewpoints on the edge of the caldera on the route up to Pananjakan. A few minutes beyond Bukit Cinta is Bukit Kedaloh (unfortunately recently renamed Kingkong Hill, around 2,700m) which is usually less crowded that both Bukit Cinta and Pananjakan and that is why these numerous viewpoints have come into existence.
If you are not a fan of crowds, the best spot is actually between Kingkong and Pananjakan, at a small viewpoint called Bukit di Atas Awan (Hill Above the Clouds, 2,740m) just two minutes walk along a muddy trail opposite Mesjid Syariah Mandiri (the mosque). On weekends there will still be 50 or so people here – and sometimes local campers) but that is preferable to literally hundreds both further down and higher up, especially given that the view is almost identical but with a few pleasant cantigi tree branches that you can frame your photographs of Semeru in the distance with.
Soon after sunrise, the hundreds of jeeps will be heading down to the Sea of Sand (laut pasir) below and this means a fair bit of congestion. You may wish to have a drink or snack in a warung first before following them.
In April 2019, the steps up to Bromo crater rim were closed due to frequent eruptions so pay heed to whatever the latest rules are because they are usualy there to protect you. If you aren’t allowed to hike up the steps you can usually still get as far as the base of Gunung Batok and the important Hindu temple Luhur Poten which is less than one kilometre from the rim and the perfect place to take photos of the eruptions, the locals with horses and the many colourful jeeps whizzing by across the sand.
If the Bromo staircase is closed, check in advance with your guide or ojek driver and he may be able to lead you up to the top of Gunung Batok (2,447m), the iconic peak that most people at first mistake for Bromo, which takes around 1 hour to reach the summit of from the Hindu temple. Take suncream, hats and plenty of water with you and enjoy fantastic views of the similarly-ridged Gunung Widodaren (2,590m) to the west of Bromo.
Some tours also include an excursion several kilometres out to the south to ‘savanna’ more recently ‘re-branded’ as the moronically-named Bukit Teletubbies (2,100m). Here there is a large, ghastly selfie sign which should never have been built in a protected area such as the Sea of Sand, plus a few locals dressed up in costumes as Teletubby characters. It is worth the diversion however, because the photo opportunities as you speed across the Sea of Sand are numerous and you really get a feel for the expansiveness and beauty of the magical Tengger caldera. You can be back down at a Tosari homestay (or in Cemoro Lawang on the Probolinggo route) in less than an hour.
Bagging information by Andy Dean, updated by Dan Quinn (April 2019).
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- Getting there: Easy to arrange from practically anywhere in East Java. The two main access routes are from Surabaya or Malang, which both have train stations and airports although Surabaya has a lot more flights and is by far the more popular starting point for a trip to Bromo. From Surabaya Airport to Bromo takes around 3 hours and a car with driver is around Rp600,000 (one-way). From Malang it takes a little less time to cover a shorter distance (via Tumpang) but the prices are similar and the road more windy. From Surabaya you can head to Bromo either via Pasuruan to Tosari or via Probolinggo to Ngadisari and Cemoro Lawang. Pasuruan and Probolinggo also have train stations with a couple of executive class trains (notably the twice-daily Mutiara Timur running between Surabaya Gubeng and Banyuwangi).
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Bromo information pack can be downloaded here.
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- Permits: Buy a ticket on entry to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park area at the booths at Ngadisari or Tosari. Prices are highly discriminatory. In 2019, foreigners pay Rp217,500 per weekday or Rp320,000 at weekends and on national holidays. This includes KITAS holders who live and pay tax in Indonesia. Locals pay around a tenth of the foreigner price. This difference seems totally over the top and in most countries would be illegal.
- Water sources: There are many shops selling drinks and snacks nearby though ask for the price first as they are often sold at inflated prices.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
Gunung Bromo = Brahma’s Mountain. Bromo is a Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, one of the gods of the Hindu trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva). (George Quinn, 2011)
Gunung Batok = In Javanese, batok means “coconut shell“. The Tenggerese people believe that Mount Batok was formed from a coconut shell which was kicked by Resi Bima, a powerful giant, after failing to fulfill the conditions proposed by Rara Anteng to marry her.