Mount Bromo in Indonesia – Desolate Beauty
Mount Bromo is the most popular tourist attraction in and around the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru national park which surrounds the Tengger caldera in East Java, Indonesia. Actually only half a mountain, Mount Bromo is a smoldering, semi-active volcano with its top completely blown off, that allows you to climb to the sulfur-tinged edge and peer inside to see a massive plume of white smoke bubbling up from beneath the earth.
Surrounded by the Laut Pasir, an unearthly white sea of fine volcanic sand, Mount Bromo is a natural spectacle you won’t want to miss.
The Tengger caldera is actually an anomaly in comparison to the surrounding East Javanese geography. While many people are tempted to think that desolate beauty is all a trip to Mount Bromo has to offer, there are more areas of lush, green forest fed by mountain rivers than you might think. The contrast between the rugged volcanic peaks of Mount Bromo, Mount Semeru, and Mount Batok and the valleys and trails in the surrounding National Park is nothing short of breathtaking.
Just 6 km from the nearby town of Sukapura you can find the Madakaripura Waterfalls. These seven misty streams of water drop over vibrant green valleys, and you can almost forget you’re near active volcanoes, until you look up and see Mount Semeru belching ash and smoke to the southwest. It’s an eerie, magical experience.
Nearby lodging can be found in the towns of Sukapura and Tosari. Sukapura is by far the most popular place for travelers to stay, with Western-style hotels such as the Grand Bromo Hotel and the Java Banana Bromo Lodge. These hotels offer full amenities, as well as food, galleries, and mountain bike rentals. The price of lodging at the Java Banana also pays for a 4 x 4 driving trip up Mount Bromo with a tour guide, ensuring that you get to see the crater. This is great if you weren’t looking forward to the hike up, or if you’re traveling with family members with limited mobility.
For the more rugged traveler, there are also basic lodging options at Cemoro Lawang, very close to the park entrance. These will cost half to a quarter as much per night as options in Sukapura, and are more convenient for hikers and backpackers. If you’d like to get immersed in the local Tengger culture, the town of Wonokkitri nearby also offers homestays for incredibly reasonable prices.
Mount Semeru, the most active volcano in the park, is generally off-limits to casual travelers, though avid mountaineers can get a permit from the park office at Ranupani to climb the peak. The area surrounding Semeru is said to be a very holy, mystical place by the Tengger people, and the village of Ranupani, with its ghostly twin lakes at the foot of a very active volcano, is well-known for this reason. As with Wonokkitri, many travelers have stayed with local people for a small fee. If you’re interested, you can arrange a homestay at the park office.
It is suggested that travelers in the Tengger caldera region pack for cold weather, especially at night, as the temperatures can easily go below freezing. Likewise, make sure to check The Smithsonian Institute’s Volcanic Activity Report before your travels to make sure that there aren’t going to be any dangerous eruptions. Despite all that, for the hiker, naturalist, and inveterate traveler, the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru national park is a dream come true.