Readers of my travel blog know that I wasn’t too pleased with the organization of the national park here. In fact, I was fairly disappointed with much of the tourism infrastructure on Java Island. However, there is no doubting that despite the garbage and crowds at Mt. Bromo, the place is absolutely stunning. I imagine it’s one of only a handful of places in Indonesia outside of Bali that really has a hold of tourist’s attention. With highly accessible volcanoes and some seriously interesting landscapes, this area is really intriguing. The town of Cemoro Lawang is pretty cool too. It almost feels like what I would imagine a Himalayan village to be like, although much busier, especially at 330am when the roar of 4x4s start. If you come to Mt. Bromo do it independently, if you can, it will save you headaches and money, and you’ll have the bonus of being able to explore parts that aren’t just tourists piled on top of one and other.
Time Needed: 1-2 Full Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 30-40 USD per Day
Things to Do and See in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
Well it may seem obvious that all the things in Cemoro Lawang revolve around Mount Bromo, that’s not entirely true. However, the vast majority of people that come up here, do so to see the volcanoes. Here are some of the things you might expect to see and do.
- Hike up Mount Bromo: If you want to see Bromo without too many people around, wait until about 8-9am and walk from Cemoro Lawang to Bromo. It’ll take about 30 minutes to get there and then you can actually hike all the way around the rim of the volcano. This will be included on your tour if you do the sunrise tour, but you’ll be accompanied by a hundred or so others.
- Sunrise Viewpoint: Again, I advise you don’t go with the tour. The tour takes you to one viewpoint that might be the best, but it’ll also have a couple hundred people pushing around to get a view. Ask at the Cafe Lava Hostel for directions on foot, and there are a couple viewpoints along the trail that you’ll find much quieter. Of course, this also means waking up at 3am to start hiking.
- Waterfalls: There are companies that offer tours to the various waterfalls in the area. You’ll either need your own vehicle or join a tour to see them. They are pretty nice, so if you have an extra day, it could be worth it.
Where to Eat in Cemoro Lawang
In Cemoro Lawang, most of the tourists eat right at their hotels. However, if you wander enough you’ll find a couple really cheap places to get traditional meals like soto ayam (chicken soup), satay ayam (chicken skewers) and nasi goreng (fried rice). Personally, I thought that the food at the Cafe Java Hostel was really decent. And although it was more expensive than outside, the prices weren’t insane either. Really good value.
Where to Stay in Cemoro Lawang
For me, the best place to stay was the Hostel Cafe Java. It’s a little bit over-priced, but not without warrant thanks to it’s perfect location. Moreover, they have a nice selection of rooms from bare-bones rooms with share bathrooms to really nice double rooms with private facilities. The hostel is only about a 5 minute walk from a nice viewpoint of Bromo, and that alone makes it worth it. Another decent hotel option appears to be Cemara Indah. If you’re looking for a more “local” experience, there are a couple places offering homestay experiences up in Cemoro Lawang as well. Be warned, however, that the homestays will be the simplest of accommodations.
Getting to Cemoro Lawang
It can be a mission getting to Cemoro Lawang. In Probolinggo, there are a slew of scammers who will push you towards a travel agency looking to cash in on some commission. Even if you demand the bus station, you’ll probably end up here. Be persistent if want to get to the bus station, then take a bison up the mountain to Cemoro Lawang. Be 100% sure that the bus will take you all the way up, as some don’t. Don’t pay up unless you get where you asked to go.
On the other hand, if you do find yourself at an agency, it’s not the end of the world. They’ll have a shuttle service organized up the mountain, take you directly to your hotel, and it’ll just mean waiting a bit and paying a bit more. The private option is in a taxi. These are hard to find, though. We searched for about an hour before finding one to take us for 250,000 Rp. We had been quoted as much as 500,000 Rp by some people.
Finally, it might be wise to just find a shuttle service from whatever town you’re coming from. Both in Yogyakarta and in Bali there are trips running daily. From Bromo, we caught a shuttle to Yogyakarta which turned out to be a very hassle-free option.
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