Climbing Mount Bromo in Java, Indonesia Without A Tour

Mount Bromo is a fascinating active volcano located in the cool mountains of Cemoro Lawang around 2 hours drive from Probolinggo in Java, Indonesia.

Boasting extraordinary scenery, which could be mistaken for Mars and a charcoal coloured bubbling crater surrounded by perfectly formed volcanic cones, climbing Mount Bromo is one of my fondest memories whilst travelling so far.

Not only was the backdrop of the volcano out of this world, it was also one of the rare occasions where I managed to avoid a busy tour and do the trek independently.

Bromo is one of the main attractions on Java Island and is therefore, commonly combined with a trip to Mount Ijen in an expensive 3 day/2 night package tour.

However, despite what the touts tell you, it is easily done on your own for a pittance of the price!

Here’s my guide to getting to Cemoro Lawang and exploring Mount Bromo all on your own whilst also avoiding the crowds.

I started my journey in Surabaya (the nearest city to the volcano with an airport) where I had a very special morning (find out why here) before hopping on a 2 hour local bus to Probolinggo.

Once in Probolinggo, I asked around to find out where the mini bus to Cemoro Lawang departed from. Just around the corner from the bus station I found the mini bus in question and was told by the driver that it wouldn’t depart until it was full. At this point, it was just myself and one American guy – we were in for a long wait.

Eventually, after 5 more people turned up we decided to split the cost of the minibus between us (around £5/6 each – it should have been approx £3 each).

As the humidity and dusty roads of the city morphed into refreshing cool cloud, lush farmland and towering mountains, we weaved up treacherous windy roads until we reached the tiny town of Cemoro Lawang.

Our bus driver shimmied us into his guesthouse as we hadn’t booked any accommodation (around $5 each) and then we were all set for our early morning climb.

Most of the tours begin at around 4am. They pick you up from your accommodation, pile you into a truck and drive you up to a crowded sunrise point overlooking Mount Bromo’s crater.

Opting not to get an extortionate priced truck to the sunrise point we decided to set off a little earlier (2.30am) and tackle the walk head on – it was a trek after all!

Using trusty we waded through dewy cabbage patches, hidden spider’s webs, expanses of tall damp grass and heavily inclined concrete roads. It was a tough walk at points but nothing a podgy person who doesn’t exercise (me) couldn’t hack.

After a couple of hours and a few accidental detours we reached a quiet, uncrowded sunrise viewpoint a little below where the truck tour groups were. We grabbed a coffee and waited for the sun the unveil the magical view below the expanse of nothingness, which had been hiding from us all morning.

The sun slowly rose above the clouds uncovering vibrant vertical farming ground, Mount Bromo’s fizzing crater, sprouts of pristine volcanic cones and a blanket of bareness.

Once we’d revelled in the majestic sight the sunrise had revealed we began our descent to explore the volcanoes up close.

We followed a dotted track on our map down through farmland and rugged mud tracks before emerging into the nakedness below Bromo.

The elephant coloured crater was so ginormous each person climbing up it looked like an ant scurrying up the side of a mound. We bound our way towards the final destination on our trek – the crater.

As we approached the bottom of the crater we were greeted by hoards of tour jeeps and horses that up until now, we had managed to avoid.

The horses were waiting to take tourists up to the top of the crater however, we opted to walk as the horses didn’t look like they were being looked after very well.

The crater was a 10/15 minute climb up an incline of stairs.

And at the top we were welcomed by a deep v crater with a staggeringly unsafe and scary drop – you wouldn’t want to trip whilst up there…

We gazed in awe as the crater puffed out white, black and blue smoke from the bubbling vent below praying that today would not be the day that it would explode once again…

Mount Bromo was definitely my favourite trek whilst travelling to date. Not only because its scenery was unusual and majestic but also, because I was able to beat the crowds and experienced it independently.

Facts for climbing Mount Bromo independently

Get a local bus from wherever you are to Probolinggo.

From Probolinggo get a minivan to Cemoro Lawang (where Bromo is located).

Check into a guesthouse and get an early night (I didn’t book accom beforehand so don’t panic if you can’t find anything online).

Start the trek at 2/3am using app as a guide – there are many viewpoints located on the map to choose from.

After sunrise, descend towards the crater using – we happened to enter the area where there was no ticket booth so did not have to pay the approx $16 entry fee. This is risky but definitely doable.

The trek took around 6 hours in total.


Have you ever climbed Mount Bromo? Did you do it with a tour or on your own?

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