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East Java Volcanoes Guide – Mount Bromo & Ijen Crater

When you hear about Indonesia, most people think of Bali. But there are many more islands worth visiting in Indonesia like Java located on the north-West of Bali. Java is a Muslim Island with traditions and culture very different from Bali. East Java is particularly popular for the Bromo Volcano and Kawa Ijen Crater.

We usually love to organize our travels solo and avoid most tours but, on this occasion, we chose Indo Travel Team and it was the best decision. We spent 3 days discovering East Java and hiking the two volcanoes before the sunrise. Expect long drives across rural villages before switching to the Jeep 4×4 to tackle the sand dunes to see the wonders of both volcanoes.

Here’s why we highly recommend including this part of Java in your Indonesia travels.

East Java Volcanoes Itinerary

Day 1 – Drive from Ubud to Mount Bromo

Our trip started in Ubud where our driver Ryan picked us up at 7:00 am with a minibus.

Pick-up can also be arranged from South Bali (Semyniak), North Bali (Munduk, Pemuteran, Gilimanuk), or even directly in Java.

You will spend the morning driving through the beautiful Balinese roads with incredible views of rice paddies, deep valleys, and forests to North Bali. After reaching the small town of GiliManuk at 1 pm, you will take a short ferry to Ketapang in Java.

The afternoon drive along the Javanese coast is long and pretty samey until you reach the village near Mount Bromo where you’ll spend the night. The high altitude village can get very cold at night so pack warm clothes.

Despite Java being mainly a Muslim Island, the village we stayed at is Hindu so we were able to order some beers at dinner. Your local guides give you a briefing during dinner explaining the next day’s program.

We stayed at Good Karma Homestay for the night. Don’t expect the same type of accommodations as in Bali – the standards in Java are clearly not as high but this homestay was clean, and we slept comfortably.

Day 2 – Mount Bromo & Viewpoints

Rise and shine at 3:15 am to discover one of the most famous volcanoes in Asia, Mount Bromo which sits at 2,300m. The name Bromo refers to the Hindu God of creation pronounced Brahma in Javanese. The Bromo is still active and erupts every few years.

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Your guides provide water, warm hats, lamps, and gloves before leaving the guesthouse on an off-road 4×4 jeep to reach the bottom of the Bromo and Batok Volcanoes.

Then, start the short steep ascent to Mount Bromo which is roughly a 20-minute walk followed by a very long set of steps in the full darkness.

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On you reach the top, it’s still dark but you can’t ignore the extraordinary noises made by the Bromo.

You will spend around an hour walking around the crater waiting for the sun to slowly rise over the valley catching a glimpse of the lava and the sulfhur inside the crater past the deep smoke.
There is a small statue of Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom, hanging above the crater.

From the summit, you have a beautiful view of the dormant Batok Volcano covered with small trees, and the rest of the Valley which used to be a giant volcano itself! Your guide will provide much information about the geological formation of this area.

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What we loved with IndoTravelTeam is that our guides took us first to Mount Bromo when most groups and tourists go to the viewpoints across the mountain to see the sunrise over Bromo. We were literally solo on top of the Bromo which made this experience unique.

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On your way down, stop at the important sacred Hindu Temple for the Javanese in the region worshipping the mountain gods living inside the Bromo Crater. Every year, this temple holds the Yadnya Kasada celebrations. The ceremony consists of making offerings of flowers, fruits, rice, and livestock sacrifices by throwing them inside the crater.

Back in the jeep, you cross the plain called Sea of Sand which is mostly made of volcanic ashes to reach the main viewpoints across the valley where you can take breakfast.
From this spectacular view, you’ll spot the Semeru – the tallest active volcano in Java that erupts every 15 minutes – near Bromo and Batok!

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Head back to the main village for another breakfast before making the way back East to Kawah Ijen. The drive is almost similar to the previous day, but you are more inland this time. You’ll see authentic villages, tobacco, and coffee farms on the way.

Expect to arrive at the next homestay around 5 pm where you will have dinner in a local family. Our homestay was even better than the first day, we had hot water and nice bedrooms!

Day 3 – Kawah Ijen & drive back to Bali

Kawah Ijen is a large active volcano with the world’s biggest acidic crater lake. It is known for its intensive sulfur mining.

Each night, the rangers assess the crater conditions and decide if tourists can start climbing Kawa Ijen at 2 am to witness the extraordinary phenomenon of Blue Flames inside the crater.

We visited Kawa Ijen during the rainy season in May when the risk of air toxicity down the crater is very high. Therefore, the national park opened at 4 am only and we missed the Blue Flames since it needs to be fully dark.

Our local guides provided a gas mask, lamps, gloves, and water before starting the ascent.
Unlike Bromo, this is a proper steep hike of 2 hours to reach the summit at 2,300m.

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Once at the top of the crater, we arrived for the sunrise and the view itself was stunning. The unreal turquoise lake with sulfur smoke emanating from the side of the crater is magical. We were lucky to have a clear view of the lake but as soon as the wind with sulfur smokes changed direction, it became difficult to breathe, and we had to put our masks on for a couple of minutes.

Although we didn’t see many miners because it was Saturday, we can imagine how difficult and scary their job is. Most of the miners don’t have proper equipment, work in very dangerous conditions facing toxic smoke, and must carry over 80kg of sulfur every day on narrow paths.

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We headed back to the base camp around 6:30 am. The hike down was very nice with beautiful landscapes of green forests illuminated by ray of sunlight. After our breakfast in a local Javanese restaurant, we started our drive back to Bali!

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We arrived in Ubud around 5 pm – very tired from this long journey but full of memories!

Summary of our experience

Total cost

$320 if you book solo

$280 per person from 2 people booking

TIPS for drivers & Beers

What’s included

  • Transport to Java and back in a minibus
  • Ferry tickets
  • 2 nights’ accommodation
  • 2 Breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Entrance fees to both Bromo & Ijen
  • Jeep 4×4 for Bromo
  • Local guides
  • Equipments (mask, gloves, lamps, hats)

What to expect from this trip

This was one of our best experiences in our 4 months trip in Southeast Asia!

Yes, the whole trip was very exhausting – there is a lot of driving and short night sleeps but both volcanoes were amazing. They are very different, and each experience is so unique! We got lucky with the weather which made the whole trip even better.

Even if you don’t like hiking or not sure volcanoes are your things, I can assure you that you will have many unforgettable memories after these 3 days in Java!

Why go with Indo Travel Team

If you plan to visit East Java in a couple of days just for the volcanoes like we did then I can only recommend booking this tour with Indo Travel Team. Going with a driver and a guide that know the area and the roads very well, the local traditions, and the best places to eat and sleep will save you so much hassle.

Remember that you wake up both nights before the sun rises so you’ll be very happy to have a nap in the minibus during the day!

From the booking process to the whole organization, Indo Travel Team planned everything perfectly. Both our guides were amazing, and we would not have enjoyed it as much without them. The schedule is perfectly timed and there was no false note in the three days! We all thought the trip was worth the money!

However, if you plan on staying at least a week in Java, there are many waterfalls and hidden villages worth exploring  by yourself!

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