I am stoked to share with you my most recent trip to Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen, Indonesia! I have seen many beautiful pictures of East Java, but only by experiencing it myself, I could witness two of the most magnificent landscapes I have ever seen in my life.
My partner and I booked a 3D2N Bromo-Ijen tour with OurTrip1st, which cost us about 2,700,000 rupiah (290sgd) per pax. The package fee is inclusive of accommodations, entrance fees to Bromo/Ijen and all other transportation. You can choose to explore Bromo/Ijen without a tour guide, but I would not recommend that as you will have to find your own transport, which isn’t easy to navigate. Each ride can be as long as 4-7 hours; just imagine how uncomfortable it will be!
Surabaya's weather - Hot (felt like 34 degrees)
We landed in Surabaya after a 2-hour morning flight from Singapore. Our local tour guide Barley brought us to get some cheap local grub before setting off on a 4-hour car ride to our accommodation at Cemoro Lawang village.
Rawon (a traditional Indonesian beef black soup) - tasty!
Cemoro Lawang's weather - Chilly (felt like 20 degrees)
We stayed at Cafe Lava Hostel, which was surprisingly pleasant. I read some crappy reviews about the hotel, so I was expecting the worst, but it was actually okay - except for the toilet, which looked quite disgusting.
Gunung Penanjakan's weather - Extremely cold (felt like zero degree) - Bring your winter wear, gloves, scarf & beanie
After a wakeup call at 3am, we had to prepare for our sunrise hike to Gunung Penanjakan (Mount Pananjakan). Of course, the sunrise wasn't until 5.30am, but the jeep ride up the mountain took about 45 minutes, and we needed to arrive early to get a good viewing spot as well.
There are two viewing points at Gunung Penanjakan - there is one at the front, but you can walk to the end to the right to get to the second one, which has lesser people.
Tip: About 5 minutes before you reach the viewing point by the jeep, there is an open area to view the sunset - which is perfect, since you don’t have to climb over any barrier, nor squeeze with the crowd. Too bad we found out of that spot only as we were driving down.
Mount Bromo’s weather - Chilly (felt like 22 degrees)
After sunrise, we rode the jeep to The Sea of Sand, passing by the Teletubbies Hill. From there, we chose to pay 250,000 rupiah for the two of us for a pony ride to the foot of Mount Bromo. Otherwise, it is a 15-20 minutes walk. It was my first time on a pony/horse - quite an experience! As I am very petite, my feet could not even reach the stirrup - it was quite scary when we were going downhill as I had no support!
Meet my little pony - Made
253 concrete steps up to the top of Mount Bromo
Mount Bromo's Crater
After we were done with Mount Bromo, we were sent back to our accommodation where we had breakfast, checked out, and prepared to set off for our 7-hour car ride to Bondowoso. We left Cafe Lava Hostel at about 10am, and reached our second accommodation in the late afternoon.
Bondowoso's weather - Hot (felt like 34 degrees)
Soto Ayam - simple chicken noodle soup
Ijen View Hotel & Resort
Kawah Ijen's weather - Cold (felt like 15 degrees)
The wakeup call was at 12 midnight, and we checked out straight from there. Upon reaching Paltuding trekking point, we met up with our local guide and started our 2-hour uphill climb to the top of the crater.
There are no toilets along the way - only “nature toilets” - so make sure you’ve done your “business” before the hike.
It is advisable to layer your clothing, instead of wearing just one thick sweater. It is very cold before you start the hike, but as you climb up, your body will start to get warmer. I was wearing 5 layers at the start of the hike, but 30 minutes into it, I was wearing only a spaghetti top. Of course, as you reach the top of the crater, it starts to get cold again, so you have to start putting on more layers.
We managed to catch the electric blue flames of Ijen that appear from the combustion of sulfuric gases but only from a distance. It was monsoon season and the government banned visitors from going too close to the sulphur lake as it was producing a high amount of CO2.
The view of Ijen was stunning. I have never seen anything like this.
Walking on bits of sulphur
On our way down, we saw some miners carrying heavy loads of sulphur, which weighed about 75kg. Most miners carry these sulphur stones up and down the crater twice a day, but only earn $11 per day. Although the job is physically demanding and hazardous, they depend on it for their livelihood.
My legs were feeling like jelly by the time we reached the bottom, but it was all worth it.
Things to note:
1) Bring many layers of clothing, as the weather will vary from hot to cold. Uniqlo’s Heattech shirts are perfect as they really keep you warm, despite being so thin.
2) As both hikes start before sunrise, it is advisable to get a head lamp. I got mine from Decathalon for only $3 - cheap and good!
3) You don’t need a pair of good hiking shoes for the hike up to Kawah Ijen, but it is best to wear one with good grip as you may slip while going downhill.
4) Bring along some entertainment and snacks for the long journeys in the car.
5) Bring an insulated bottle and fill it up with hot water - it will really help when you are freezing from the cold.
6) If you plan to climb down to the rim of Ijen Crater to get close to the blue flames, make sure you rent a gas mask to protect yourself from smelling too much of the sulphur. Bring along some N65 masks for extra coverage!