Mt bromo with kids: active volcanoes & sunrise
From the minute we decided to go to Indonesia we knew it would be the best area to visit an active volcano. This was something which Ethan had always said he wanted to see during our travels! So we included Mt Bromo with kids to our itinerary.
It’s an easy stopover on Java island. The only issue we faced was the taxi mafia who monopolise the transport routes up to Mt bromo. It wasn’t a problem, but knowledge is power and we were happy to take things at a slow pace.
While investigating Keith also found that there was a FREE walking route to Mt Bromo and meant we would avoid paying the huge national park fees! Winner!!
To make life easier we had a stop gap between our trip up to and returning from Mt Bromo. Keith had read lots of stories about being hassled and ripped off with buses up to ceremolawang.
As our train was due to arrive late afternoon we didn’t fancy an argument, especially with the kids. So instead we decided to just stop for a night!
Where to stay in Probolinggo
We had a lovely place called Brac guesthouse. To be honest it was the lovely family who run it that made it should a popular stopover. After chatting with the owner we found that he used to work on the cruise ships and had completed several round the world trips and it showed.
His customer service and attention to detail was the best we had encountered. We had a lovely delicious omelette and chips for breakfast with toast and coffee! Best we’ve had so far!!
Where to eat in Probolinggo
We found 2 decent options (aside from the country fried chicken a few doors down!)
Sumber hidup – an air conditioned & clean restaurant which was famed for its ice cream (although we didn’t have one). Prices were above average but the food was good and we left satisfied.
Orin hall & resto – a much more varied menu that the last place. Anything the number of staff to customers was a little off putting as were the giggles! But we had a nice break with huge portion sizes!! You really only need to order 3 meal!
How to get to Mt Bromo
The owner was so lovely and arranged for us to be collected from the train station. The next day he took us to the local bus station. The guy said we needed to wait for more customers and the fee was IDR 50,000 (that was easy!). After about 20 minutes the bus guy came over and said. We can leave now for 75,000 each. To be honest this was better than we’d expected so we agreed! We were the only ones on the bus.
The journey was fairly easy going, driving wasn’t too erratic, roads were in fairly good condition and the route, although a little windy, wasn’t too bad! It took just over an hour. We arrived in the chilly mountain region in tact!!
Ceremolawang (Mt Bromo)
Where to stay at Mt Bromo
There are a few hotels in Ceremolawang, but most are guest houses or small homestays. We didn’t find a huge amount, and those we did like were booked out.
So we booked two nights into a basic accommodation, called Sedulur homestay. Mostly filled with backpackers, it was quite social. But it was shared facilities and squat toilets – arghh! Bloody hate them – so after a mini wobble and a walk I decided I just need to get on with it – but I didn’t have to like it!!
Where to eat at Mt Bromo
For the 2 days we were there we ate lunch at Warung Pondok Tengger – basic menu but good food of nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), nasi campur (mixed veg with boiled rice) and Soto ayam (chicken noodle soup).
In the evenings we went to the very popular and cosy restaurant, cafe lava hotel. It catered to Indonesian and Western tastes. Prices were very reasonable and the boys even had a steak one night! But it was very busy. We went in at 5pm one night, even though they don’t serve food until 6pm, and managed to get one of the few tables left! Get there early!!
Things to do at the Mt Bromo
It’s all about Mt bromo, an active volcano. And as this was a bucket list item for Ethan we couldn’t miss it!!
We decided to spend 2 nights so that we could enjoy the mountain village (there’s something lovely and calming about mountain air!). We then planned to enjoy an afternoon (after all the tourist crowds had left) walking across the sea of sand to Mt bromo and then climb up.
It wasn’t an overly strenuous walk, but the altitude made us huff and puff a little. Ceremolawang is based at 2180m and Mt Bromo is 2329m so pretty high!
Keith had read that there was a walk from the town acrosd the sea of sand to Mt Bromo and it was free! Usually you had to pay IDR 220,000 (weekdays) & IDR 300,000 (weekends).
Instead go to Cemara Indah restaurant and there is a small, but steep & sandy, path on the opposite side of the restaurant.
This is the “free way to Mt Bromo”.
The route takes about an hour one way, but it’s easy! Be prepared to get very sandy!!! But the views and walk are fabulous.
Head towards the temple (kinda looks like a big hotel from a distance) and walk around it and you’ll see the path leading to Mt Bromo. There are (well worn and broken) steps leading up to the top. Here you look into the belly of the active volcano with all its eggy smells!
It’s pretty incredible and as you look around to take in the view you feel like you are on the moon – it looks so desolate!! Amazing experience!!
One thing I should mention is the amount of rubbish!! Such a shame that people come here and be so disrespectful!!!! Grrr
While did there we did see some people walking around the edge of the crater, but we’ll leave that to the more adventurous!
Sunrise view of Mt Bromo
After our afternoon adventure the next morning we needed to get up at 3.30am in order to make it up to the viewing point by sunrise. Keith had researched the FREE route. We had warm clothing on (it was currently 8 degrees!), Torches, snacks and waters – we were tired but ready to go!
What I hadn’t prepared for was how long and hilly the walk was going to be. Within half an hour we were all stripping off our layers in a sweat!!
The walk took just over an hour and was 4.8km (all uphill!!). The boys did great but we were too tired to head further than the first viewing platform!
To be honest, you don’t need to go all the way to the top. We jumped over a wall and were rewarded with the most breathtaking view of the caldera in the early morning light! But we were starting to get very cold and once the sun rose, the boys and I headed back down.
If the walk puts you off, then it is possible to get a driver or ride a bike to the start of the steps. Thus, cutting out about 3.5km!! But as we are on a budget, that was immediately discounted! 🙄
That afternoon we mooched and just got an early dinner and then early to bed 😴. You could head back down to probolinggo if you were short on time. But we weren’t sure how regular the buses would be.
The rule is once they are full… they go! But morning is the best time.
Heading to Bali
After a night back in probolinggo we were ready for our big travel day to Bali!
First, we caught the train from Probolinggo to Banyuwangi Baru.
It’s then a short walk to Ketapang ferry terminal where you need to catch the regular and easy 40 minute ferry to Bali!
Ferries operate 24 hours a day every 15-20 minutes, weather permitting.
Ferry tickets cost 6,500 for adults and 4,500 for children. However, on our way to the ferry terminal we were stopped by a gentleman offering a bus journey and ferry. We’d read about this and knew the price to be IDR 100,000 pp. This included the transport to Denpasar. There were no straight forward bus journeys to Denpasar so this was our best option.
The boat arrives Gilimunk and great if you want to explore the northern areas of Bali!
It was the usual ‘when we are full we go’ and we managed to get the final 4 seats (crammed into the bus!). But at least it was air conditioned!
We were dropped off at a bus station well out of town and needed to catch a taxi to our accommodation. The taxi had a set price of IDR 250,000 and signs which stated ‘no grab taxis!’. So we walked out of the terminal and down the road where we ordered a grab taxi for IDR 138,000!
Finally we arrived at our accommodation, purnama house near the airport! It was a nice, quiet & hidden little gem. We slept well that night!!
I loved our adventures in Java and highly recommend it for adventurous families looking for some Indonesian culture with easy travel links! Next stop is Flores (Komodo national park!).