I am falling in love with the nature and landscapes of Indonesia and I’m so glad that I have the opportunity to explore what this country offers.
In January, I visited Jakarta (you can read the post about it here!) and I just recently flew to Surabaya where I embarked on a 3 day 2 night itinerary to explore Mount Bromo, Madakaripura Waterfall and Ijen Crater. As these two areas are not near each other, there was quite a bit of driving involved! However, I am amazed that in a whirlwind of just 3 days, I managed to visit 2 active volcanoes, a massive waterfall (at least in my books) and climb down a crater in the middle of the night.
As I did not have time to plan my trip, I decided to go for a tour this time. It was definitely a good decision as the travelling to the various locations seemed difficult and complicated (from a lil research that I did). I booked my tours with Java Tour Holidays and they sent me an itinerary after I sent them my flight details. I didn’t have much time, as I was to reach Surabaya in the afternoon on Thursday and leave on Saturday night. It is pretty amazing how much I managed to explore in this mini trip!
The moment we touched down at the Juanda Airport, our driver (his name was Jon Anis) was waiting for us at the arrival. It feels nice knowing that someone was going be there as I’m not very familiar with Indonesia yet, as it is huge and the language barrier can still be quite prominent. Once we got picked up, we started our drive towards Cemoro Lawang Village where we stayed a night at Hotel Cafe Lava. The drive was roughly about 3 hours. The temperature dropped significantly as we headed up the mountain so do prepare some warm clothing or layers! The hotel was decent and was close to the sunset view point and the drive down to King Kong Hill and the sea of sand. Do note that there wasn’t any heaters to warm up the room so it got quite cold! Be prepared!
Once we checked in, we walked about 3 minutes to the sun set view point. We did visit during the rainy season so it was quite foggy. The sun was obscured by dense clouds so we didn’t get to see much. However, when we got back to the hotel, I started to notice that the sky was pink! We ran back to the sunset view point and managed to catch a glimpse of the orangey pink sunset. It changed very quickly and soon the sun had set. So I’d recommend just writing it out until the sun goes completely down as you’ll never know what you might see!
Our call time was 3.30am so we headed back, took a hot shower and rested before going into our jeep! It was quite fascinating to see so many jeeps lined up along the road! The jeep ride was roughly about 40 – 45 minutes, where we crossed the sea of sand to King Kong hill where we awaited the sunrise. It was pretty chilly so do layer up! There were a few stalls selling hot drinks, so you definitely can get yourself one to warm yourself up. While waiting for the sunrise, take a look at the stars! There were so many stars in the sky, and it was beautiful. The first hint of sunrise started about 5.30am and it was absolutely gorgeous.
The sky turned orangey red with layers of blue and green. I was in awe. When the sun was pretty much up at about 6.15 am, I finally saw the breathtaking view of Mount Bromo and Mount Batok. I was in awe. Everything seemed so surreal. There are quite a few viewpoints along this area so be sure to walk around to see the mountains and view from a different perspective.
After this, we headed back to the jeep and drove across the sea of sand. We were going to climb up to the top of the crater! There is the optional horse ride up and down (IDR 100,000) if you would like, but I generally do not really support animal tourism as we will never know how they treat the horses. The walk up towards the bottom of the stairs was slightly tiring as the slopes were slightly steep, but definitely doable. The stairs took a while so make sure you have water to keep yourself hydrated! There are various rest points during the stairs up so no worries.
Looking into the volcano was surreal. The sulphuric fumes smelt like hard boiled eggs to me! You can walk along the edge, but I wasn’t confident of my balance so I stayed where there were some barriers.
After this surreal experience, we headed back to the hotel and ate breakfast (which was included in our tour). Then we packed up, checked out and drove to Madakaripura waterfall! I’ve seen a few waterfalls in my travels but I’d probably say that this one takes the cake in taking my breath away. To get to the waterfall, we had to take a motorcycle (ojek) to the entrance (it was definitely an interesting experience as I’ve never sat on a motorcycle before!) where we then proceeded to walk in. The walk felt like about 10 minutes, but I didn’t really keep track as I was taking in the view of my surroundings. It was an easy walk, without any steep inclines or big rocks, so I would definitely recommend you checking it out! I also highly recommend bringing your own raincoat as they tend to charge quite a bit there. I brought a rain jacket but that wasn’t enough!
There were a few waterfalls, but the massive 100m one at the end (which I believe is the Madakaripura waterfall) was breathtaking. I’m not sure if it was the biggest waterfall I’ve seen, but it was the closest I’ve ever been to one (almost right below it!). It was beautiful! The picture shows the waterfalls we walked through to get there, but I didn’t manage to get a shot of the final one in the end as it started to pour. The heavy rain started out of a sudden and the floor became very slippery. We were soaked from head to toe, but nonetheless, it was an amazing experience.
After drying up, drinking some hot chocolate and eating some indomee from the stall at the entrance, we headed to Ijen to hike the Ijen crater! Ijen is an active volcano and the largest sulphur mine in Indonesia. The drive was about 5 hours long, but luckily I was so exhausted that I slept through majority of it!
As part of the tour, our accommodation for the night was at Ijen View Hotel. This hotel exceeded my expectations! The rooms were really spacious and clean, and they have a pool and massage! We needed a massage asap so we booked for an hour (they came to the room and it was IDR 100,000 excluding tips). The massage was lovely and after, we took a quick rest as our call time was 11.30pm. Yup.
When we met our driver, we then drove to the base of the Ijen where we would then hike up to the top of the crater before descending down into it to catch a glimpse of blue fire. It was extremely cold when we began but a few minutes into the hike, I was already sweating as the slopes up were pretty steep. As we were hiking in the middle of the night, we were just replying on the tiny light emitting from the torches so I do recommend bringing your own! I used the torch function on my phone which worked well for me. Every once in a while, stop and take a look at the stars! The sky was filled with them and it was so beautiful.
I honestly didn’t notice how long the hike up took as I was extremely sleepy but it was 3 km and it felt roughly like an hour or so (I might be wrong!). Once we’re up at the top (there is also a toilet there if you need to answer nature’s call for IDR 50,000), we wore our gas masks and started our descend down into the crater. This route was mostly rocks so a good pair of shoes with adequate grip is highly recommended! I wore my nike sports shoes and goodness, the lack of traction made me slip with every step and my guide had to hold my hand almost every minute. The descend felt way longer for me as I was struggling to keep my balance and not fall to my death (ok, a little exaggeration here but it sure felt like that at that time!), but a lot of people found this part easier as they were breezing through!
Once we’re down into the crater, there would be tons of sulphuric gas being emitted from certain sections of the ground. I also saw a few miners mining up sulphur and then placing them into baskets. I overheard another guide mentioning that they don’t earn much, about IDR 1000 per kg! This reminded me of how lucky I am, and how my lil bubble of life and its so called difficulties really do pale in comparison to others. Sitting there and watching them mine was definitely a reminder for me personally and I just felt immense gratitude for the fact that I was able to travel and be there.
The sulphur bits are really interesting! They have slight reflects on the surface and my guide took a little piece to show us, and I noticed that there are different layers (a darker yellow and a lighter one). I did some research and I do think that it is due to the various rates of solidification of the liquid sulphur that comes out of the vents.
Sadly, we did not get to see the blue fire but you might be able to depending on your luck! After sitting in the crater for a while, we started our climb up. I personally prefer the climb up as I slipped way less often, but that’s just me. The climb up took about 40 minutes. At the top, I noticed that the sky was starting to turn a little pink. I tried to see if I could find a spot to see the sun rise, but it was mostly obscured by a large mountain which was right infant of it. However, the moment the sky was lighted up, I saw what I had been hiking into and it was stunning.
The massive crater took my breath away. The 1 kilometre wide turquoise lake was something I’ve never seen before! It is said that this is the largest acidic water lake in the world. So pretty. It took me a while to let all of it sink in.
After admiring the view and taking a few pictures, we started the descend back to the carpark where our guide was waiting for us. It was back down the same route (so the previously steep slopes up were now steep slopes down) and my shoes failed me. Regardless, I got back to the car safe, exhausted and happy.
The last bit of our trip was us heading back to the hotel for breakfast, followed by a quick shower and checking out. Then, it was a long drive (about 5-6 hours) back to Surabaya airport for us, with a stop for lunch. Our flight was at 9pm but we got to the airport at about 4pm with a lot of time to spare.
Overall, this trip was amazing and I’ve never felt so blown away by nature. I can’t believe that it was just 3 days, and it is definitely something I’d highly recommend you to try, be it through a tour or by your own! The tour was definitely helpful for me as I had not much time to research and wasn’t sure of how to get around. However, I would have liked more time at each of the locations to just sit and admire the view! Regardless, I had a wonderful time.
Have you been to Indonesia before? Where else should I go? Please share with me your recommendations!