Hiking Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater, Indonesia

Indonesia is truly a must visit country in South East Asia. From nature to beaches, there are just so much to do and explore. I am a nature person *but no to spiders* and hiking in Indonesia were one of my bucket list. The two spots that caught my attention in Indonesia were Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater which were both located in the Java Island.

Mount Bromo is an easy trail to hike compare to other mounts in Indonesia, which is perfect for beginners. If you are looking for a slightly challenging hike, Bromo will definitely not be on your list. But if you are looking to have a slight thrill of a hike and to enjoy the magnificent view, Mount Bromo is going to be amazing.

Apart from Mount Bromo, most travelers will also stop by Ijen Crater which is a bus or train ride away. Ijen Crater is famous for its blue flames which can only be witnessed in a few location in the world, making it a famous stop.

There are two options to visit both these attractions depending where you are coming from. If you are traveling from Bali, the route you should take is Ijen Crater follow by Mount Bromo. But if you are traveling from Jakarta, Bandung or Surabaya, you should first visit Mount Bromo followed by Ijen Crater.

My 3 days Journey hiking Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater

Surabaya stopover

Surabaya is a stopover for most travelers who are heading to Mount Bromo. I decided to head to Surabaya a day earlier to have a quick explore of the city. The major attractions here is the House of Sampoerna and number of museums. There is nothing much to do here. Really just a stop over for travelers heading to their next destination. If you are coming over to Surabaya, I would recommend staying in My Studio Hostel, which look a little like a capsule hotel. The hotel is located just 5 minutes walk away from the train station and it comes with free breakfast and unlimited coffee or tea. Most importantly, the place is clean and reasonably priced.

Probolingo is the next transfer point before heading up to the Mount Bromo hiking base. There are 2 ways to Probolingo from Surabaya.

  • Taking a train which is 5 minutes away from My Studio Hostel to Probolingo. The jouney will take approximately 2 hours.
  • Taking a bus from Purbaya terminal to Probolingo terminal. The journey will take approximately 3-4 hours. (The route I took)

I stayed in the hotel for a night before heading over to Terminal Purabaya (Bus terminal in Surabaya) to meet up with my sister. I took an Ojek (taxibike) and paid IDR25,000 (USD1.87 or RM8.30). Not the cheapest option to get there but the most convenient one. Ultimately, you can look for a public bus to get to the bus terminal. At Purabaya terminal, ask around for the bus that is heading over to Probolingo terminal.

Beware: Bus stations are filled with people who will try to scam you.

We paid IDR35,000 (USD2.60 or RM11.70)  for the ticket. So generally, that is the range you should be paying.

Terminal Probolingo up to Cemuruh Lawang (Bromo base)

Once you reached Probolingo terminal, walk to the bus terminal main entrance and turn left. There will be a jeep by the road which will transport you up to Cemeruh Lawang. Cemeruh Lawang is the base of Mount Bromo and the place where you will be staying the night before the hike. The jeep do not have a fixed price and will only move when there is 15 people on board. You will either have to wait till the jeep is full or split the cost among the people there. I do not remember the exact cost of chartering the entire jeep but it cost IDR35,000/pax (USD2.60 or RM11.70) with 15 people on board.

We arrived around 4pm which is kind of late. The risk about arriving late is not being able to get 15 people to fill the jeep which will end up with you paying a higher price for the transport cost. The earlier you arrived, the better it will be. Be mindful that Probolingo is a very dodgy place which we have a pretty bad experience. From my entire 2 weeks travel, this is my least favorite spot.

Night in Cemeruh Lawang

We arrived in Cemeruh Lawang in the evening and begin looking for a guesthouse to have a quick rest. There is plenty of guesthouse to choose from so there is no need to book in advance. You can always walk around looking for the accommodation that suit your style and budget there. We stayed at a place that cost IDR150,000 (USD11.25 or RM50) per room. Not the best condition to stay in but pretty much a place to keep our stuff and have a quick 4 to 5 hours rest.

The two main things you will be doing would be visiting Sea of Sands and hiking up Mount Penanjakan early in the morning to catch a sunrise view of Mount Bromo.

Sea of sands

To get to sea of sands and mount bromo crater itself, you will be required to pay IDR320,000 (USD24 or RM107) for the entrance fee. Which is over priced to be honest if you get to know how much the local paid. There is an alternative route which is taken by most backpackers. It is a small entrance at the back of Cemeruh Lawang hostel. However, we did not manage to sneak through as the ranger or entrance keeper stopped us.

Most people successfully sneaked in so it really depends on your luck and timing. In our case, we did not managed to sneak in for free. If you plan to sneak through, it would be advised to do it in the morning after the hike from Mount Penanjakan when the entrance keeper are busy at the main entrance.

Hike up Mount Penanjakan

After the failed attempt of heading up to Sea of Sands, we decided to have our dinner with another 6 travelers from Singapore, Belgium and Germany whom we will be hiking up Mount Penanjakan with. We head back to the hotel early preparing for our early morning hike at 2.30am. The hike took around 2 to 3 hours which is just nice for the sunrise. For your information, if you do not want to miss out the sunrise, be sure to be there before 5.30am as that is when the sun rise.

Here is something I did not know till halfway through the hike. You are not actually hiking up Mount Bromo but Mount Penanjakan. You hike to the top of Penanjakan View Point for the sunrise view of Mount Bromo. If you choose to hike up (which is free), the trail is pretty easy and obvious. Thus, there is no need for a guide. But if you are not in the mood to hike but still want to get to the top, there is a jeep option that will bring you straight to the top but of course with a price.

Mount Bromo to Banyuwangi

Once we are done witnessing the breathtaking view, we had a quick lunch then head down to Probolingo terminal immediately to catch a bus. This is where we got scammed. An advice from a local friend  to be aware of the people in the bus terminal as they are always trying to scam you to pay more. We found a bus which we were promised that it will be a direct bus which will take approximately 4 hours. We paid IDR70,000 (USD5.26 or RM23) which we thought was a reasonable price till we found out that the local paid IDR36,000 (USD2.70 or RM12).

Everything were fine as the slight markup is still reasonable. But we later found out that the bus we took is not actually a direct bus and we are required to switch to another bus halfway through. The entire journey took around 6 to 7 hours which were crazy. We later got to know that another German couple paid IDR 200,000 (USD15 or RM67) for the ride.

Banyuwangi with a great hospitality from Beny and Berry

We made a last minute changes arriving in Banyuwangi pretty late in the evening. Struggling for a place to stay, we met Beny and Berry which is the host of the place we initially plan to stay. We actually booked for the following night but due to some last minute changes, we decided to head there a day earlier but the room are all occupied. But Beny and Berry were the nicest people we have met after a whole day of being scammed. They offered to let us stay in their home and take care of our lodging and our Ijen crater hike arrangement.

They are not obligated to do that but they went the extra mile to help us which is amazing. If any of you ever plan to visit Ijen Crater, do consider staying with them. Here is their facebook page, OsingVacation. Don’t take my word for it, but the rating from other guests on Agoda (rating 8.6) and Booking.com (rating 8.1).

Thank you Beny and Berry. We paid IDR 150,000 (USD11.27 or RM50) per person for one night stay and the transport to the base of Ijen. A pretty good deal I would say.

Hike up Ijen Crater: Magnificent Blue Flames

We had quick rest for the night and later got picked up by our driver to the base of Ijen Crater which took around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The entrance fee was IDR150,000 and the mask cost IDR50,000. It is essential to get a mask as the sulfur smell is strong when you hike towards the crater. The hike was pretty steep and takes approximately 1 hour to reach the top of the crater. You will then need another 30 minutes hike down to the witness the blue flames. Every minute spent here is amazing.

Fun fact: You are only able to witness the blue flames in Ijen Crater and in Iceland.

The hike down to crater is pretty dangerous as it is very rocky and the amount of tourists flooding the place is not making things better. But nevertheless, the trip is awesome. We spent some time at the crater then went all the way up to the top again to catch the sunrise view of the crater.

Mount Bromo and Ijen Crater is truly breathtaking. It is definitely worth a visit if you happen to travel to that region. Comment below and let me know what you think about these two attractions.

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