Bromo, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most visited sites yet largely unknown outside of Asia, Bromo is one of those places that no one should miss

Difficulty: 1-3 out of 3
Duration: anything from a day to a week
Season: April-October

One of Indonesia’s most visited sites yet largely unknown outside of Asia, Bromo is one of those places that no one should miss. Having gone to the trouble of getting there though, many visitors only spend a single night at the caldera-rim village of Cemoro Lawang, cramming their whole experience into the following day. If you can, it is far better to stretch out your stay to get further off the beaten track.

That said, you still should start with the early morning dash to the definitive viewpoint on Gunung Penanjakan, walking up in less than two hours or else taking a quick jeep ride. Once up there, you may have to fight for elbow room as the viewpoint can get mobbed, but such things tend to be forgotten as the sun peeks above the horizon sending the first rays licking at the sides of several ash cones. More sunlight spills into the caldera and begins to creep across the Sand Sea, every passing minute filling in more of the picture until you are gazing at one of the world’s great volcanic spectacles.

In the foreground, across the ashy caldera floor, are several active cinder cones including Gunung Bromo (2,329m), while looming impressively in the far background is the much larger Gunung Semeru (3,676m) which often contributes a photogenic plume of ash to your pictures.

The established pattern for visitors is then to return to your accommodation for breakfast, followed by a ride or hike down to the Sand Sea and across to Gunung Bromo itself.

The cone is certainly worth a visit as it is a hallowed place for the local Tenggerese. Nominally one of the few Hindu peoples of Indonesia outside of Bali, their faith is underpinned by animist roots that see them make offerings to the volcano every year in a ceremony called Yadnya Kasada.

The offerings are thrown into the crater where some of the poorer locals risk the ire of the gods by grabbing scraps for their own use. While you are not advised to interfere on that occasion, at other times, depending on how active things are, you may be able to go down inside Bromo’s crater – check with guides or officials first.

At this point many turn for home but with a little forward planning, this can be just the beginning of your Bromo experience. An operator will be able to take you on from here to visit further cones, camping or staying in Tenggerese villages to extend your range across the caldera.

A major highlight is a summit of Semeru, taking two days from the village of Ranu Pane. The highest peak on Java, it offers stunning early summit views plus there’s the thrill of an occasional ash shower to convince you that there really is no place like Bromo.

Operators
Azimuth Adventure Travel, www.azimuth-travel.com