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Jakpost explores Mount Bromo

Ni Nyoman Wira

THE JAKARTA POST IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AGODA

Probolinggo, East Java | Sat, July 28, 2018 | 04:20 pm
Jakpost explores Mount Bromo

The view of four mountains; Mount Bromo (left), Mount Batok (front), Mount Widodaren (right) and Mount Semeru (behind) as seen from Penanjakan 1 view point at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS). (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Mount Bromo, which is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS), is one of Indonesia's most popular tourist destinations. Located in East Java, the active volcano is nestled in the regencies of Probolinggo, Pasuruan, Lumajang and Malang.

The name Bromo is said to derive from Brama (Brahma), a Hindu God. Until now, Mt. Bromo is still considered a holy place for Hindus, making it a location for the annual Yadnya Kesada ceremony.

Tourists usually spend one to two days marveling at the sunrise and the crater. But the place also hosts other attractions worth exploring.

How to get there

From Jakarta, most people travel to Mt. Bromo by air, which only takes around 1.5 hours. Going by train or bus would mean spending up to 15 and 20 hours on the road, respectively.

Air travelers can fly through Juanda International Airport in Surabaya or Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport in Malang. 

Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport is much smaller than Juanda airport as it is actually an Air Force base that also functions as a commercial airport. However, it is well operated and boasts facilities such as a tourist information counter, luggage-wrapper booth and food stalls.

The Malang airport serves several airlines, including Citilink, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air, Batik Air and Garuda Indonesia. Do note that it halts  operations at 5 p.m., hence it is not a good option for those planning to take evening flights.

Juanda International Airport, on the other hand, is managed by state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I). It hosts domestic and international terminals as well as sufficient facilities that have been the standard of AP I. Among the airlines it serves are Garuda Indonesia Airlines, Batik Air, Citilink, AirAsia, Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air.

Once you arrive in Surabaya or Malang, do note that there are several ways to reach Mt. Bromo, namely through Probolinggo, Pasuruan and Tumpang. Probolinggo is the most popular route as the road is friendly for private vehicles. Both Pasuruan and Tumpang offer a more challenging road, though the scenery is breathtaking, hence traveling by jeep is recommended.

Most hotels and travel agents in Mt. Bromo are ready to assist you in renting a private car and  jeep, which usually comes in one package. But for those who prefer to book them separately, your private car driver may also connect you to a jeep driver. The prices for car rental start from Rp 450,000 (US$31) per private car only (from Malang to Cemoro Lawang hamlet in Ngadisari village, which is the entry gate to the mountain), and Rp 600,000 per jeep that can accommodate six people (the regular route include sunrise-watching spot, Teletubbies Hill and Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sand)).

Locals can be found riding motorcycles to reach the sunrise spot, however this is not recommended for tourists due to the high skills required to pass the challenging trek.

Read also: Jakpost explores Belitung island

Tourists have to climb around 250 stairs to reach Mount Bromo's crater. Tourists have to climb around 250 stairs to reach Mount Bromo's crater. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Best times to visit

The dry season is the recommended time to visit Mt. Bromo. Those arriving during the rainy season should expect a less perfect sunrise or sunset view due to the fog. However, exploring the lush greenery of Teletubbies Hill is a much better experience during the rainy season.

Mt. Bromo has always been crowded, even outside the holiday period. Foreign travelers usually visit the area on weekdays, meanwhile locals mostly travel there on weekends.

Climate

Although mostly cold, the weather on the mountain and its surrounding area can be unpredictable. Sometimes it is sunny in the morning, yet later becomes foggy with little drops of rain in the afternoon.

During our trip there in mid-July, temperatures ranged from 8 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Popular areas

Penanjakan 1

There are several spots to marvel at the mountain’s sunrise and the most well-known is Penanjakan 1 viewpoint. Situated at 2,700 meters above the sea level, it allows you to view a picturesque combination of Mt. Bromo, Mt. Batok and the peak of Mt. Semeru.

The crater of Mount Bromo that has the diameter of around 800 meters. The crater of Mount Bromo that has the diameter of around 800 meters. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

For those staying at the hotel nearby Mt. Bromo, expects to be pick up by the jeep driver around 3 a.m. to enjoy the sunrise at this place. The entrance ticket for TNBTS starts from Rp 200,000 for foreigners (weekdays), Rp 2,500 for insurance and Rp 10,000 for four-wheeled transportation. The journey to the viewpoint will be filled with steep slopes and uneven road surface. Those who may experience motion sickness are suggested to sit in the front.

Tourists enjoy the scenery of Teletubbies Hill at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS).Tourists enjoy the scenery of Teletubbies Hill at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS). (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Other than Penanjakan 1, the other sunrise spots, which are on a lower ground, are named Bukit Cinta (Love Hill) and Bukit King Kong (King Kong Hill). When the route is congested due to a large crowd in the morning, prepare to hike several minutes or hop on an ojek (motorcycle taxi) with fares starting from Rp 10,000. Some stalls selling instant noodles, fried snacks and warm beverages, as well as renting winter gear like shawls, hats, jackets can also be found on the area with average price of Rp 10,000.

Bawangan Bromo restaurant that specializes on Indonesian cuisines.Bawangan Bromo restaurant that specializes on Indonesian cuisines. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Mount Bromo’s crater

Upon arriving at the mountain’s sea of sands, the jeep drivers will usually take their passengers to the front area of Mt. Widodaren to take some photos. Afterward they will park the jeep around 2 kilometers from Luhur Poten Temple. You can continue your journey by walking or riding a horse, the price of which starts at Rp 50,000 depending on distance.

An 8 percent discount is available for all hotel bookings made via the above link until Sept. 30 using 'AGODA818' as a voucher code.An 8 percent discount is available for all hotel bookings made via the above link until Sept. 30 using 'AGODA818' as a voucher code. (Agoda/File)

Luhur Poten Temple serves as the first stop before you reach the slope of Mt. Bromo. Just like other Hindu temples, it is divided into three sections: Utama Mandala (closed to tourists), Madya Mandala and Nista Mandala. The temple is regularly used as the main venue for Yadnya Kesada ceremony.

An 8 percent discount is available for all hotel bookings made via the above link until Sept. 30 using 'AGODA818' as a voucher code.An 8 percent discount is available for all hotel bookings made via the above link until Sept. 30 using 'AGODA818' as a voucher code. (Agoda/File)

Reaching the crater is quite a challenge due to the thick sands, ravines and scattered excrement from the horses that one should avoid. Opt to wear a mask to protect yourself from the smell and ash. If you experience difficulty in breathing as you climb to the top, it is better to take a short break. Bring only necessary items while trekking the mountain to ease your burden, such as bottled water and a camera.

Under the starry sky: Tourists try to capture the beauty of sunrise at Penanjakan 1 at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS).Under the starry sky: Tourists try to capture the beauty of sunrise at Penanjakan 1 at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS). (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

When you finally reach the crater, the effort will pay off. The smell of sulfur and the generator-like sound from inside the crater will create excitement, especially because the fence is only several meters long and does not cover the entire crater area.

Sunrise at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) taken from Penanjakan 1 viewpoint. Sunrise at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) taken from Penanjakan 1 viewpoint. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Teletubbies Hill and Whispering Sand Dune

After going down the stairs of the mountain’s crater, it is time to go to the Insta-worthy Teletubbies Hill and Whispering Sand Dune. As the name suggests, the hill was named after the recognizable green hill featured on British TV series Teletubbies, while the latter is a popular tourist spot after becoming the filming location of Garin Nugroho’s 2001 film Pasir Berbisik.

White ash coming out of the Mount Bromo's crater. White ash coming out of the Mount Bromo's crater. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Up and coming areas

Jemplang

Jemplang is connected to Mt. Bromo’s Savana and Teletubbies Hill. It is actually an intersection between the mountain and Mt. Semeru as well as Ranu Pane. It has a breathtaking view of green grasses blanketing the hills.

Travelers need to ride a jeep from Teletubbies Hill or pass through Ngadas village, where Tengger people live, in order to reach it.

Nearby villages

Mt. Bromo is surrounded by villages, including  Ngadas and Gubugklakah. Both are located higher than the mountain.

Tengger people in Ngadas in Poncokusumo district, for instance, often hold traditional ceremonies based on their own calendar system, such as Hari Raya Karo and Unan Unan. Karo is celebrated for several days around September to October. It consists of many rituals, including prayer, dining together, rice cone offering and dining at the cemetery. Meanwhile, Unan Unan is held every five years. According to kompas.com, the ritual begins by slaughtering a buffalo. Its body parts, which some of them had been made into satay, will then be taken to Sanggar Pamujan, which is located not too far from the village.

Travelers are welcomed to stay in the village's homestays, with prices ranging from Rp 250,000 to Rp 350,000.

Similar to Ngadas, Gubugklakah village is located in Poncokusumo district. Known as an apple agrotourism destination, visitors can expect to pick the fruits throughout the year with price starting from Rp 20,000 per kilogram. Homestays are available for those who want to stay in the village with price starting from Rp 150,000 per room.

The village can be reached from Malang by passing through Tumpang district using private car and jeep. The locals, who are part of Tourism Village Institution (Ladesta), will assist the tourists who want to explore their village.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls can also be visited by travelers of  Mt. Bromo, such as Madakaripura in Probolinggo regency and Coban Pelangi in Gubugklakah village. Coban Pelangi is famous for its rainbow in front of the waterfall that usually happens in the midday. It can be reached by walking as it is located 1.5 km from the entrance gate, as reported by kompas.com.

Meanwhile, Madakaripura is known as Indonesia’s second-tallest waterfall. According to Tribunnews.com, it is said that Gajah Mada, Majapahit Kingdom’s military leader and mahapatih (prime minister), gained his moksa (enlightenment) there. Madakaripura can be reached by around a one-hour walk.

Activities

Hiking, trekking to the local villages and picking up fruit when they are in season are among the recommended activities offered by this destination. Tourists can also expect to watch the sunset and Milky Way from viewpoints like Penanjakan 1.

Cuisine

Designed like a Javanese joglo traditional house, Bawangan Bromo restaurant on Jl. Raya Bromo specializes in Indonesian cuisine. The restaurant’s most popular menu item is grilled chicken with sambal (chili sauce) and lalapan (raw vegetables). Prices are quite low, around Rp 90,000 for two people. The best time to visit is in the afternoon when the fog  ascends from the mountain, making you feel like you are surrounded by it.

Tourists can ride a horse to go to the crater or return to the jeep parking area. The horse is provided by Tengger tribe members. Tourists can ride a horse to go to the crater or return to the jeep parking area. The horse is provided by Tengger tribe members. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Another place to go when you are hungry is Belanga restaurant, which is part of the Jiwa Jawa Resort Bromo. It has an outdoor balcony that overlooks the hills, but the scenery will be covered by fog in the afternoon. The restaurant offers Indonesian and intercontinental cuisine, but it is recommended to try their seafood fried rice served with pickles, traditional fried chicken, shrimp cracker and fried egg. Prices for the fried rice start from Rp 63,000.

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What to take home

Some people can be found offering Javanese edelweiss at Penanjakan 1. Priced at Rp 50,000, the flowers have been arranged in such a way to form a bear and other animals. Several stores along the road to Mt. Bromo also offer it to tourists. Do note that the white flower, often perceived as the symbol of eternal love, is important for the mountain ecosystem and is considered endangered. Hence, the local administration plans to open Edelweiss Tourism Village in Wonokitri this year to allow the locals to cultivate the flower.

Small stalls in Penanjakan 1 also sell key-chains, refrigerator magnets and clothes adorned with TNBTS or edelweiss flower motifs.

Tips

  • Car rental fees may not include tip and entrance tickets to tourist destinations.
  • Take note of your jeep’s license plate number and the driver’s phone number to keep in contact with your driver.
  •  Different sunrise-watching spot will offer different views. The hills of Love and King Kong are often used as alternative places if Penanjakan 1 is overcrowded.
  • There are many sunset-watching spots near to Penanjakan 1, such as Cokroniti, which  offers fantastic views. However, access to this place is still limited.
  • Some destinations, such as Teletubbies Hill and Whispering Sand Dune, are best visited before midday when the weather is not too warm.
  • Phone service can be unstable at the location, especially in the villages near Mt. Bromo.
  • Carry a small amount of cash in case you need to buy snacks or drinks during your hike.
  • Beware of sand storms. It is recommended to prepare a mask and bottled water to wash your face from the sand.
  • Bring comfortable hiking shoes to help you climb the crater and Penanjakan 1.

Where to stay

If you only want to spend one to two days at Mount Bromo, it is recommended to stay at Bromo Terrace Hotel on Jl. Raya Bromo. The hotel is quite close to TNBTS and boasts a beautiful backyard with plantations and a terrace that overlooks the hills. Guests can also use complimentary Wi-Fi provided in their room.

Other attractive accommodation options are Jiwa Jawa Resort Bromo and Plataran Bromo, especially if you want to spend more time at the national park. Both have their own gardens and offer different travel packages for their customers.

All accommodation options are available on online booking platform Agoda. (kes)

As part of a partnership between The Jakarta Post and Agoda, an 8 percent discount is available for all hotel bookings made via the above link until Sept. 30 using "AGODA818" as a voucher code.

The view of four mountains; Mount Bromo (left), Mount Batok (front), Mount Widodaren (right) and Mount Semeru (behind) as seen from Penanjakan 1 view point at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS).The view of four mountains; Mount Bromo (left), Mount Batok (front), Mount Widodaren (right) and Mount Semeru (behind) as seen from Penanjakan 1 view point at Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS). (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

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