Monday, September 8, 2014

Around the Savannah. Then Mount Bromo.

Cemoro Lawang is the closest town that you can use as a base to Mount Bromo. It is a quaint and quiet town which thrives on the flock of tourists. The tours start as early as 3:30am, and then you’ll be back in your homestay by 9:00am. The tours are arranged in such a way that you can catch an afternoon flight out of Surabaya, which is around 4 hours away.  By 11:00am, there’s almost no tourist in sight.

My homestay offered tours for IDR 125,000. I didn’t haggle down the price, I thought it was already fair. He offers the usual tour: Sunrise at Penanjakan view point then hike to the Bromo Crater. I inquired if there’s a tour to include the Savanah and Telletubby land. I wanted to go back  - after showering and eating. He said he doesn’t offer those tours but he could get an ojek driver for me so I could tour it that afternoon. 

There's not a lot to do in town. So I hired the ojek for IDR 75,000 to take me to Savannah and Telletubby land. BUT the views weren't as enticing as they were that morning. It was dusty now, and the morning mist was gone. That morning fog-mist was part of the charm. I suggest that you do that tour during the morning, and maximize it.

Which way?

In the middle of nowhere, somewhere

Mount Bromo Day

My Bromo day began at 3:20am. Our call time was 3:45am - the jeep will stop in my homestay and the guide will come and get me. I slept with two layers of thermals, leggings and socks. It was cold, even though I already had two fleece blankets. After taking care of hygiene, I was ready in 15 minutes (15 minutes is a supersonic getting-ready speed for me, ask my friends). The guide took a look at my attire and he said I would need a jacket. I thought maybe he wanted to make a money out of renting me a jacket for IDR 25,000. I stepped outside and it was cold. So I rented a jacket. I have low tolerance for cold weather.

Apparently, my ojek driver yesterday told that I should pay the park entrance fee. I think I was mistaken for a local that’s why the park ranger let us pass without me paying. Fee is IDR 217,500. Ask for a receipt. Lusot na sana eh. Sinumbong nya ko!

As early as 4:00am, there’s traffic going out of town.

Traffic at 4:00am. Tinalo ang EDSA.

I think the ride going to the mountain was around 1 hour. It was a really good decision to make Cemoro Lawang as my base. I highly suggest the 4x4 option, it keeps the dust out. I saw some ojeks out there and dust was flying around them. If you want to make Ngadas your base, please do the 4 x 4 option. Unless you want to be covered in dust by the time you reach the Penanjakan viewpoint.

All those jeeps. Remember your jeep number and color!

The 4x4 parked. He told us to be back by 6:00am. Take note of your jeep number and color. From that parking slot, it took me 40 minutes to get to the viewing point. The path was uphill. It was dark and cold. Unfortunately, my jeepmates were all Caucasian, so their long legs allowed them a headstart. My seatmate was a Japanese girl but she walks too fast, I couldn’t keep up.  So I huffed and puffed walking (dragging my feet) uphill.

I arrived at the viewpoint and gasped at the sea of people. Honestly, I don’t know if it will make any difference if you’ll be in the viewpoint 30 minutes earlier. The place is packed. I made my way around by tagging behind a tall Caucasian couple who made their way in front. The sunrise was beautiful. But I would say it was not as unique as I expected. I’ve seen a nice sunrise in Mount Pulag as well, and it didn’t include a jampacked place filled with tourists and their monopods.

Sometimes, I wonder if people are even trying to enjoy the view. Are we all preoccupied of documenting everything nowadays? Part of travelling is "feeling" the place. That, cannot be captured by a camera. 

I took time and found this view on the other side. Much nicer. There’s just too many people. Some wouldn’t even share the view. I was adamant to get a clear shot so I patiently waited. I started going down at 6:00am. I knew I was late. But a 6:00am call time is just unrealistic for me. The sunrise started at 5:45 am. Matigas lang ulo ko no. 

Pretty sunrise
It took me 25 minutes to walk to back to my jeep. A bit faster this time because it was downhill. I bumped into a some touts who were claiming I should return my rented jacket to them. I waved them off. I knew I was returning the jacket back to my homestay. I almost panicked because I couldn’t find my jeep and it was way off the highway than I expected. I gave an apology in the context of “I didn’t realize it was that far!!!". At least they waited for me. Luckily, I didn’t get a sermon that I was late. Note: If you need to go to the restroom, do it while in Penanjakan point. I didn’t see any restroom options during the hike to the crater.

Excuse me guys, please share the view. I'd like photo too.

My peace sign pose. Lots of clothes.

We also made a short stopover in this viewing point. Very very pretty.

The drive down:

The jeep parked and our driver told us to make to go back by 08:30H. I was determined not to be late this time. So I walked as fast as my short Asian legs would carry me. 


Touts called out and appeared beside me with their horses. You can rent a horse that can go up until the stairs that would take you to the crater. He horses seemed malnourished and overworked. The price: IDR 100,000, not sure if you can still haggle that down. I waved them off. Vendors selling mask also appeared. No idea about the price but it would be a good idea to bring one during the trip. I used my scarf as a dust mask instead.

Halfway, I was covered in dust. And it was hot. I should've left my second layer of coat in the jeep. Now I had to bring it all the way up and back down. 

After 30 or so minutes of brisk walking and multiple stops, I was at the base of the stairs going up to Mount Bromo. There's a single lane going up and down, so expect delays. If you are a seasoned trekker, you can trek on the slope, instead of taking the stairs. Other people did this. The stairs were so steep, some elderly people (and not so elderly ones as well) had to catch their breath for a couple of minutes before climbing. 

At the top. There's the crater. Smoke came out. It smelled like sulfur. It is kinda sad that I saw trash in the crater. Tsktsk. 


Getting a shot was tough because there was a lot of people and they don't want to leave the good spots. I was thrilled with the view but I wasn't to thrilled to have a picture with it. May mga view na maganda lang na view, kahit di ka na sumama sa picture. This is one of those. Also, wa-poise nako after all that trekking no. :P

Some tips:
  • Don't trek with a heavy sweater/coat going to the crater. It is cold when you start out but the sun eventually comes up and it gets warm.
  • Bring water, but don't chug it all down. I didn't see any restroom.
  • Tie your hair up in a pony tail so that it won't gather dust. You'll have ponytail photos but then again, trekking is not really glamorous. 
  • Sunblock and shades please
  • Remember your jeep color and number! Very important!

This is my touristy shot. There are some scenes that should be shot alone, without me. I had a shot as a "proof", for myself, that I was in Mount Bromo.


  1. I read all your story from Malang, Bromo, Surabaya as I'm preparing my own trip soon. I like the way you tell the story. It's very detail, thorough and fun to read. It helps me a lot to prepare my trip. Thanks a lot.

  2. Tour of Savannah looks an amazing tour with beautiful sights for travellers and tourists. Especially the mountain view in the evening looks amazing.
    parking at Luton airport


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