Visiting Mount Bromo at sunrise is definitely one of the tourist to-do’s of Indonesia. But despite the early call times and the crowds of fellow visitors at the viewpoint, the journey is well worth it.
Don’t expect much for accommodations in the area, most are budget hotels that are there purely for the sunrise tourists who get only a few hours of sleep before the 3am wake up call. The walls of our hotel were so thin, we could hear our neighbours plugging in their phones to charge! The wake up happened even earlier in fact as our transportation started to very loudly arrive around 2.30am.
The reason you have to start so early is that the journey to the viewpoint is not the easiest. You can only get there via 4-wheelers, so you are obliged to hire local transportation. It’s pitch black, cold, and bumpy on the way up. You arrive at the viewpoint, stumbling in the dark from the jeeps, into a maze of kiosks and tourist shops as you make your way up the hill.
Sunrise was around 5am, so we first stopped in at a small restaurant for coffees and fried bananas, huddled together against the chill. We had put on all the layers we brought to Indonesia, but after +30C days we just weren’t ready for it!
When we did head to the view point shortly before 5am, the crowd was already forming; the prime locations at the guardrail were taken, but even from further back the views were amazing. We just stood and watched Mother Nature’s show taking place in front of us.
After the sun had risen fairly high and the sky had turned a stable soft pink and blue, the crowd began to split up and you could more easily move around and reach the better photography points. It was definitely one of the locations where you can just keep taking photographs, convinced each angle is even better than the last!
Before the heat of the day started setting in, we headed down from the viewpoint to the base of Mount Bromo. From where the jeeps could park, to the top of the volcano was about a 2 kilometre hike. You can pay to ride a horse about halfway up, but the slippery and sandy conditions lead our guide to not recommend it. The walk isn’t too strenuous and you have lots of opportunities to look around and take a rest.
The most nerve-wracking part for me was the final ascent up some steep stairs, so covered with sand they became more like a ramp. The top is also not for the faint of heart, only a knee-high stone barrier separates you from the drop into the heart of the volcano. More adventurous people walked along the edge, but I was content to sit myself down and enjoy my single viewpoint from a relatively safe position.
If Mount Bromo is on your Indonesia bucket list, I would definitely recommend this combination. The sunrise is really not to be missed, and then following it up with a hike up the volcano is perfect. The heat was only beginning to set in as we came down, and by 8am we were back at our hotel to clean up and enjoy breakfast before it was off to the next stop!