Short Breaks: Mt. Bromo

Text by Samantha Pereira
Photos by Tamara Sanderson

Sitting in an untamed, rugged slice of Indonesia, Mt. Bromo, which lies in the heart of East Java, may not size up next to the list of towering peaks and volcanoes that dot the rest of the region, but instead its lure comes from the dramatic, otherworldly views that mirror the rugged red landscape of Mars – this can be observed particularly during dawn and dusk when the warm lighting casts a deep fiery glow over the steaming crater-laden terrain.

Mt. Bromo also plays the central character in the culture of the Tengger people during annual festivals like the Yadnya Kasada, which happens in November when throngs of villagers throw offerings into the steaming crater to express gratitude for a good harvest.


Mt. Bromo

Located within the Bromo Tengger Semuru National Park, and distinguished by a conical tip that barrels plumes of white smoke, the 2,392m-high active volcano overshadows Cemoro Lawang – a mountain village that is a major access point for Bromo via a 3km hike.

Mt. Bromo is also accessible from the village of Ngadisari; though not a direct entry point to Bromo, the trek leads to the entrance of the national park and across a cluster of peaks. For travellers starting their hikes from either village, there’s also the option of horseback riding to the base of the volcano.

The trek to Mt. Bromo involves walking across a broad plain of sea sand, passing a Hindu temple at the foot of the peak, followed by a winding set of clearly-marked stairs up to the steaming crater (10km wide). Depending on the trekker’s fitness level, it takes roughly 1 to 2 hours to reach the top.

Bromo Tengger Semuru National Park

The largest volcanic reserve in Java, it’s home to a cluster of volcanoes including Mt. Bromo and Mt. Semuru (3,676m) – the latter is the highest mountain in Java and requires a pass to climb. The eponymous national park ( is also stacked with expansive plains, rolling valleys and scenic lakes.

A favourite locale among volcano enthusiasts, visitors to the national park often trek across the sea of sand or hop a jeep to explore the other statuesque peaks like Mt. Penanjakan (2,770m) – a good viewpoint for Bromo and the surrounding summits. It’s relatively steeper than its counterparts Mt. Batok (2,440m) – the only non-active peak in the area – and Mt. Widodaren (2,650m), with its sacred underground cave, along with several other mountains with ascents of over 2,600m.

The park is home to fauna like the native rusa deer and elusive marbled cats, while hawks and eagles can sometimes be seen soaring above the plateaus and valleys.

Madakaripura Waterfall

Not far from Bromo (50km), and often the pitstop before exploring the rest of East Java, the Madakaripura Waterfall cascades about 200m into a moss-draped valley abyss.

Hidden within a deep forested valley, it is close to the village of Sapih at the foothills of the Tengger mountain range – a region that is said to be the stronghold of the 13th century Majapahit empire. Misting over a series of gaping dark caves, the majestic waterfall is shrouded in folklore that involved the commander of the Majapahit empire who regarded the area to be holy. To honour his spiritual legacy, locals pay homage by performing rituals on the first day of the Javanese calendar.



Besides going up the towering peaks, trekkers can explore the different routes that speckle the area, including the Tumpang route (4 to 6 hours) from Malang to the high altitude Ranu Pani Lake, as well as the Ngadisari route, which takes you through several villages to explore the local culture before hitting Mt. Bromo.

Horseback Riding

Tours start from the surrounding villages like Ngadas, Podoyoko, Cemoroh Lawang, etc., with horses taking visitors up the low lying peaks and foothills of the volcanoes within the national park.


With elevations up to 640m, there are plenty of opportunities for intermediate riders on the 30kms of offbeat routes that cover the Madakaripura Waterfall area.


For travellers looking to get in touch with the Tengger culture, most of the villages surrounding the Bromo Tengger Semuru National Park – like Cemoro Lawang and Ngadisari – offer homestays with local families.

Getting There 

Surabaya is the gateway city to Mt. Bromo, with direct flights from Singapore via Garuda, Jetstar and SilkAir. Plenty of local tour operators in Surabaya offer jeep and motorbike excursions to Mt. Bromo.

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