If you have any interest to visit Indonesia, watch this clip in Baraka – it provides a perfect taste of the magnificence and aesthetic of the country, namely Bali, Borobudur and Bromo.
These three places are some of the most spectacular spots in Indonesia and all of Southeast Asia, with each commonly known for something different: Bali for its beauty and serenity, Borobudur for its rich history and culture and Bromo for being one of the most stunning natural sites in the world.
Bromo, the most unknown of the three, is part of the Tengger Massif, a vast volcanic landscape in East Java. It’s made up of five stratovolcanoes which sit on top of a massive caldera formed from volcanic activity approximately 150,000 years ago. While Mount Semeru is the largest of the volcanoes at 3,676 m, the area is predominately known for Mount Bromo – one of the most active volcanos in the world, erupting every few years since the 1800s and as recent as 2011.
If you have the slightest desire to see this and have the chance to go here, it’s without doubt one of the most breathtaking sites I’ve ever seen. Plus, you can easily make Bromo a two-day trip and then head to Borobudur and/or Bali. That’s what we did, and it ended up being my most memorable trip.
Getting to Bromo: The easiest way to get to Bromo is to fly into Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia. Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia have direct flights, as well as most airports in Indonesia if you’re already there. From the airport, it’s about a 3-4 hour drive, for which you can hire a car, however it’s recommended to use a guide or travel company. You’ll find that many visitors hire a guide for the entire Bromo trip, as you’ll need many different types of transportation as well as someone that can navigate the terrain. You can definitely do the trip without a guide, however one for a short stay made our experience very seamless.
Our guide picked us up in Surabaya and drove us to the Madakaripura waterfall, a massive and beautiful waterfall that’s part of the Bromo-Tengger National park, and on the way to Bromo. If you can make a stop here, I’d highly recommend it, but make sure to bring a pair of flip flops or water shoes, as you’ll have to hike through the slippery rocks and across the river to get to the main waterfall area.
Bromo: Once we arrived at Bromo, we immediately went to watch the sunset – one of the key attractions along with sunrise. At the time, I thought watching the sky change from striking yellows to hot pinks over the Tengger crater would be the highlight of the trip, however, our viewing point only lent itself to views of Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru, as opposed to the landscape in its entirety. The sunset itself though was stunning – worth the trip for it alone!
Watching sunrise over the main viewing point, however, trumped any natural site I’ve seen in Asia, and maybe in my life. It required a 3am wake-up to get to the viewing point in time, but as someone who needs her sleep, I will tell you it’s absolutely worth it.
Our guide picked us up at 3:30am and took us by jeep to Mount Panajakan on the rim of the Tengger caldera, the prime viewpoint for panoramic views. Naively, I thought that we’d be one of the only ones there given the early wake-up, however, I was sorely mistaken. Roads were packed with hundreds of jeeps in back to back traffic, eagerly waiting to find a parking spot near the top of the mountain. After a forty-minute drive and twenty minutes of stand still, we found a spot, parked and hiked to the viewing point, which was already packed with hundreds of visitors eagerly scouting for the best views. At the time, I couldn’t comprehend why hundreds of people would get up so early in the freezing temperatures (for Southeast Asia standards) to see this, and it wasn’t until I reached the prime viewing point that I finally understood.
On first sight of the caldera, I was utterly paralyzed – in shock that something of this caliber existed in the world. The grandness of the volcanoes, overlapping with one another, paired with smoke spewing from the crater feels almost celestial. A sea of dark sand surrounds the volcanoes and heaps of fog camouflaged as clouds floats on top. It’s a site – supernatural of sorts – that I can compare to absolutely nothing I have ever seen. Words and photos of this landscape will not do it justice.
What also makes it spectacular is watching the topography change colors as the sun rises, seeing the caldera and volcanoes reflect shades of auburn and orange and then transform within minutes into a backdrop of blues and greens.
While the aerial view of the volcanoes was easily the highlight of the trip, a close runner-up was getting to climb Bromo.
After sunrise, we drove down Mount Panajakan and through the sand dunes, an experience itself as the driver sped through the vast plains of sand, swaying and skidding next to the other dozens of jeeps along the same path.
Once parked, we began our trek up Bromo, which entails a short walk and climb to get to the top. Along our way, we were stopped by many friendly Indonesians asking for our photo, to shake our hand or speak to us in English. We noticed that while there were many tourists at Bromo, most were Indonesian, hadn’t met many Westerners before and wanted to practice their English with us. It foreshadowed the rest of our week-long trip in Indonesia, as we were constantly humbled by how kind and friendly everyone was that we met.
Views from the top of Bromo are incredible. On one side, there’s a massive crater spewing white sulphurous smoke while on the other, is an endless sea of sand. It’s two drastically different scenes – neither of which I had seen before.
While we only spent one full day in Bromo given our time constraints, it ended up being one of the most memorable days I’ve had in Asia. After Bromo, we took the train from Surabaya to Borobudur, spending a few days there, and then flew to Bali. It was a week-long trip that combined nature, adventure, history, culture and at then end, relaxation.
If you have a week off and are looking for a multi-faceted adventure, a trip to Bromo, Borobudur and Bali provides an all-in-one experience.