Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park
The Bromo volcano is located at an altitude of 2329 meters above sea level and is located in the middle of an old large crater; The Tengger (10 km x 8.5 km). This large old crater looks like a large sandy area, like a desert, and is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters. The Tengger “desert” can be crossed by jeep.
The sandy plain is surrounded by the steep crater walls of the old Tengger volcano. In this old and wide sandy crater five old volcanoes are located. From this five the Bromo is the only one that is still smoking. Mount Semeru (3676 meters high) just outside the old Tengger crater, also still smokes.
If Bromo starts showing some vulcanic activity, the government will issue a warning, and no one can approach Bromo closer than 2 km. This does not happen often, but it cannot be predicted when this will happen.
Together, the volcanoes form the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
The Tengger people
The Tengger people have lived in this area for around 500 years. The Tengger people are Hindu and it is thought that they descended from the ancient Hindu kingdom, Majapahit. They fled to the mountains when Islam spread throughout Java.
Bromo has an important place in their religion. The name Bromo is an abbreviation of one of their main Gods: Brahma. At the foot of the Bromo a Hindu temple was built. You can buy flowers to offer to the Bromo. Once a year (on the 14th day of the Hindu month Kasada) offerings (flowers, fruit and chickens) are offered to Bromo. On that day, no motorized transportation is permitted near the Bromo.
“Years ago, a young man and young woman lived near Bromo. They were called Joko Seger and Rara Anteng. They fell in love, married and lived happily in the mountains together. Unfortunately, their happiness was not blessed with children. This desire was not fulfilled. Therefore they went to Mount Penanjakan together, from where they had a great view of Bromo, and they meditated for six years. The first year facing East, the next year facing South, one year later facing the West, the fourth year the North, the fifth year to earth and the last year to heaven. During their meditation they took an oath and promised to Bromo: if we are blessed with 25 children, we will return to offer our youngest child to Bromo. Immediately after the made this promise, a strong flame came out of Bromo.
The couple returned home and soon their first child was born, one child after another was born and finally the couple lived happily in the mountains with their 25 children. Until one night the Bromo appeared in Rara’s dream and reminded her of her promise. Fearful and out of love for her youngest child, Rara fled to the forest with her 25 children. That very moment the earth began to shake and a big flame took her youngest son (Dewa Kusuma). Soon the earth became quiet again and the voice of Dewa Kusuma could be heard loud: “Today I leave you so that you can live in peace. One thing I have to ask you: come back every year and bring me fruit and water. If you do this, you will harvest abundantly and will have many children. This is all I ask from you.
Where to sleep?
You can spend the night at Cemoro Lawang, a village on the edge of the large old Tengger crater. Hotels and restaurants are simple, so don’t expect luxury here.
You can also choose to spend the night at Probolinggo, a rather large place at about a two hours drive from Bromo.
Hotels are not always easy to book online. If you need help, feel free to inform about the possibilities.
How to reach the Bromo?
It takes about 4 hours to drive from Surabaya. Surabaya is easily accessible by train or airplane. From Surabaya your driver can pick you up and take you to the Bromo.
From Yogyakarta or Denpasar
From Yogyakarta, it takes around 11 hours by car. Also from Denpasar, Bali it is about an 11 hours drive. Most people experience this long journey as very tiring and especially if you want to visit Bromo at sunrise, you wont feel relaxed. So check if you can find more time in your travel plans for a more relaxed visit.
From Malang (also great by jeep)
After about a 5 hours drive from Malang you reach the Bromo. The last part of the journey (if you drive via Tumpang) you can transfer to a jeep and drive to the Bromo through sandy plains of the Tengger. Not only will this shorten the time you need to reach the Bromo, the trip will also be more adventurous. You drive over a narrow ridge, so small that the jeeps cannot pass each other. On the way, if you like, you can take a short walk to the waterfall. You drive through the misty forest and pass through the villages where the Tengger people live, and see their fields on the slopes of the mountain. Finally you arrive at the Tengger desert landscape. Often the wind blows and the sand will be blown around, so bring a mask or scarf to cover your face to protect it from the sand.
When you drive the last part with a jeep, your driver will drive with your luggage on the paved road to the Bromo. For him it takes longer to reach Cemoro Lawang. So make sure you bring warm clothes, it can be cold in the mountains.
Sunrise or not?
Many people love to see the Bromo at sunrise, so especially in the morning it can be very busy around the Bromo. During the day it is less busy, In the afternoon there are often more clouds.
In the morning, around 3:00, a jeep can bring you to the view point on Mount Penanjakan (400 meters higher than Bromo) to see the Bromo at sunrise. This trip takes less than an hour. Especially in high season, it is very busy and there are many jeeps driving on the mountains in line. The thin air can make breathing hard.
At the view point you cannot enjoy the spectacular view in peace. Although it can be busy, it is worth it.
From Penanjakan you can see Bromo, Kursi, and Batok the ancient volcano’s (Bromo has a smoke) and in the background the large volcano Semeru (the highest mountain in Java). An impressive view.
Because of its height, it is very fresh in the morning (around 5 degrees), unlike the usual weather in Indonesia. Don’t forget to bring a warm coat!
When the sun rises, the jeep tour continues through the lunar landscape of the Tengger Crater, to return to Bromo. Sometimes there still is low fog in Tengger in the morning. This makes the landscape more mysterious than it already is. You can walk , but you can also take a horse to reach the Bromo. Quite pleasant, because the air is thin and cold, your condition is not as you are used to. Finally you can climb Bromo via a long ladder. Above the crater smoke appears. You can see the flowers that have been offered before.
Don’t you like to get up early or do you like to avoid the crowds? Then you can also choose to visit Bromo during the daytime.
Good to know and some tips
- Make sure you take enough cash with you.
- Renting a jeep is required (by the authorities) if you want to drive to yhe Bromo or the view point at Penanjakan. This is not possible with normal transportation.
- Bring warm clothes. You can also buy gloves or a cap on the spot.
Like most places in Indonesia, you have to buy a ticket for the national park. The government is trying to sell these tickets as much as possible online, to be able to check the maximum number of tickets sold per day.
Not to far away from the Bromo a beautiful waterfall can be found. Madakaripura Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Java (200 meters high) and the second highest waterfall in Indonesia.
A famous poem from the 14th century tells us that Madakaripura was a present from king Majapahit, to the military commander Gajah Mada.
The Majapahit Kingdom (1293-1500) stretched from southern Thailand and Malaysia to Brunei and East Timor. This great kingdom was the result of the talents of Gajah Mada, the military commander.
Gajah Mada is said to have obtained his extraordinary talents by meditating in the cave behind the Madakaripura waterfall.
At the end of his life, Gajah Mada chose this waterfall for his final meditation before disappearing from earth. Here he reached the highest possible goal (“Muksha” in ancient Javanese).
The remembrance of Gajah Mada is still celebrated through meditation and rituals. This waterfall is not only an extraordinary natural phenomenon, but also historically and spiritually very special.
This waterfall always flows, even in the dry season and that is why this waterfall is also called the “eternal waterfall”. At the entrance there is a statue of Gajah Mada, after a walk of 20 minutes you reach the Madakaripura waterfall. During this tour you can get wet by the waterfall. Therefore raincoats are sold at the road.