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Lisa Owen

indonesia volcano

Keen for an adventure that takes you crater side to an active volcano? Then head over to the Indonesian island of Java and you’ll find Mt Bromo belching white sulphuric smoke amid a valley of lava fields. Mt Bromo’s last major eruption was in 2010 but it continues to spill sulphuric smoke from its yawning crater. If you dare to stand crater side and look over the edge, you’ll hear the roar of the volcano coming from deep inside the earth.


Mt Bromo is located in the east Java town of Cemoro Lawang, accessible from Surabaya or Malang via Probolinggo. All the cool kids that stop by Cemoro Lawang are there to see Mt Bromo at sunrise. At 3.30am, the sleepy town of Cemoro Lawang comes alive with the sounds of dozens of jeeps rumbling through the narrow potholed streets.

From Cemoro Lawang, you take the 30 minute journey in darkness up to Mt Penanjakan –  the most popular sunrise viewing point. From Mt Penanjakan, you’ll look down onto a thick sea of clouds as the sun rises, and if you’re lucky see the peaks of Mt Bromo and Mt Semeru peeking through. You won’t be alone. This is where most people go to see the sunrise and it’s very crowded in any season.

volcano view

Unfortunately my best laid plans failed and it rained so no sunrise for me. But as some of the cloud disappeared, it revealed the tops of volcanoes in the distance from a lower viewing point. Lesson learnt. Wet season is not the best time to go here. But you must go when the weather is better. My Jeep driver shared the below photo with me of what the sunrise should look like. This is in August – so go then!

Mt Penanjakan

From Mt Penanjakan you’ll be driven to Mt Bromo and then you can take the short but strenuous hike up to the crater. Remember to wear good grippy shoes as the way up can be muddy and slippery – and bring something to wrap around your nose and mouth. Breathing in rotten egg smelling sulphuric smoke is not fun!

mt bromo hike

If your journey to Mt Bromo takes you via Malang – make sure you spend a couple of days there to see the sights. There’s more than meets the eye to this university town, with colourful villages, tree lined boulevards, and nearby waterfalls. First up, head along to Malang’s hidden gem – the village of Kampung Warna Warni.

village of Kampung Warna Warni

Can you believe this used to be a slum? Just last year, a group of Indonesian university students began a project to enrich the local area. The slum of Kampung Warna Warni  was chosen as a rejuvenation project, and it was cleaned up, painted all the colours of the rainbow and decorated in the style of a village in Brazil’s Rio De Janeiro. The idea was that it would bring in tourists and help the lives of locals who could sell snacks and handicrafts – and also bring pride to the villagers.

Everyone in this village greeted me with a smile and as a keen photographer, I loved wandering around the village, taking in all the bright colours and the detailed artwork.

Kampung Warna Warni

About an hour’s local bus ride from Malang is the town of Batu, which is surrounded by picturesque mountains and waterfalls. The most popular waterfall is Coban Ronda.

coban ronda

There’s a large leisure complex surrounding the waterfall, and from the entrance gate to the waterfall it’s about a 3 mile walk or you can get an ojek (motorbike taxi) to take you to the falls. Follow the signs to Air Terjun (waterfall in Indonesian). Near the waterfall, there’s a zipline and you’re also likely to see wild monkeys in the area. These monkeys are very used to humans so be careful with any food around them as some can become aggressive.

monkies in indonesia

Things You Should Know:

  • Make sure you bring a scarf or something to cover your nose or mouth for your climb up to the crater of Mt Bromo. The sulphuric smoke pouring from the crater can be quite strong and suffocating if you start to breathe it in on the hike up.
  • Entry to Mt Bromo is about USD$15 Monday to Saturday. It’s slightly more expensive if you visit on a Sunday. You can easily buy a package tour in Cemoro Lawang that takes you up to the sunrise point and Mt Bromo. You will usually pay the entry fee separately.
  • Be prepared to have your photo taken with Indonesians at any tourist attraction in Java as they are excited to meet foreigners. Many are from small towns across Java and other parts of Indonesia and don’t often meet foreigners.
  • You’re likely to see lots of small blue minivans throughout cities and large towns in east Java and other parts of Indonesia. They’re called bemos and are an efficient and cheap way to cover small distances. In Malang, bemos are a great way to reach the bus stations which are located about 6 miles from the centre.  
  • To reach Batu from Malang, take a bemo to the Landungsari Bus Station and then ask for the bus to Coban Ronda. You’ll be dropped at the road leading up the Coban Ronda entrance station – it’s about a five minute walk to the entrance, and then you should be able to get a motorbike taxi to take you the 3 miles up to the falls.
  • To get to Cemoro Lawang by public transport from Malang. Take a bus from the Arjosari terminal to Probolingo. In the high season (winter months), you will be able to get a minivan up to Cemoro Lawang from Probollingo. Buses leave when they are full. Not many tourists visit in the low season around December/January but you can take a motorbike taxi up. You should be able to get the price down to about USD$5. If public transport is not your thing, tours to Mt Bromo can be organised in Malang, Yogyakarta or Surabaya.


Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.