A solo traveler’s day hike from Ngadas to Cemoro Lawang village in East Java, Indonesia: Magnificent views of the Savanna and Sea of Sand at the caldera of Mount Bromo Volcano.

I wanted to say that this solo hike was one of the “craziest” things I had ever done, but after knowing about even crazier things other travelers do while they’re on the road, I’ve developed a higher standard for things that deserve the adjective “crazy.” At the time, however, I did find the word fitting for what I was attempting to do.

Seeing the savanna at the backside of Mount Bromo volcano’s caldera was one of the major things I wanted to do on my trip to Java Island in Indonesia.

The savanna of Mount Bromo Volcano in East Java, Indonesia

I could hire an ojek (motorcycle with driver) to take through the 10-km journey from Ngadas to Cemoro Lawang. Easy! But I chose to give in to my pseudo-masochistic urges by doing it on foot.

I was not a stranger to long walks (2) or hiking through steep-ish mountains. A 10-km hike was doable and the terrain did not seem  too challenging.

Even, my homestay hosts in Ngadas were not alarmed when I told them what I planned to do. For assurance, I asked them if other solo backpackers have done it before. They said “yes,” which built up my confidence.


The sound of rain woke me up the morning I was set to go on my hike. Rain and thick mist covered the mountaintops. I couldn’t see anything further than a couple of meters. It was definitely not the most cheerful way to start my day.

I was considering hiring an ojek, which wasn’t too expensive, actually.

Ngadas village covered in mist and rain

My mind was already fixated on doing the hike, however. I listened to my gut, which told me that I should go for it. If I didn’t, it would be one of those things I knew I would regret later on.

I asked myself, “When will be the next time that I would be able to do something potentially epic like hike through the caldera of an active volcano?”

I only had to go out the door, wear a rain jacket to protect my backpack, then start walking. Simple! If I did not enjoy it, I could always find an ojek and resolve my fixation knowing that, at least I tried.


I bid goodbye to my homestay hosts and started my journey. The rain stopped shortly after. It was a good sign but I still had to deal with the thick mist and wet blanket of puddles covering the road.

Just about one kilometer away from town. An ojek driver passed and stopped for a quick chat. The guy asked me, in broken English, where I was going and offered to take me to Cemoro Lawang for a fee (I forgot how much).

Since the rain stopped and the mist was already starting to go away, I told him I planned on walking and didn’t have money for the ojek hire. He drove away, for maybe 20 meters, stopped again, and signaled at me to come.

The guy offered a free ride! yeah!!

Ngadas to The Savannah

The ride to the savanna took around 20 minutes. The road went uphill and downhill too many times for comfort. I was so glad I didn’t have to go through all that walking, especially, because the views weren’t remarkably worth the effort.

Sagada-ish views

The magnificent views started to appear when we reached the savanna. I could have ridden the ojek all the way to Cemoro Lawang but I really wanted to take my time to enjoy the view.

So, I dropped off and started walking.

The Savannah

Mount Bromo’s savanna was more beautiful than I imagined. It was basically vast grasslands bordered by steep mountains. One side just happens to be the crater of an active volcano.

I didn’t grow up with these kinds of sights, so, I enjoyed taking photos, a lot of photos, and soaking in not only the view but the whole feel of the place. I loved the empty desolate views, the cool howling winds, and the sun peeking one in a while.

I listened to my favorite alternative music on my iPod, which set up the perfect mood.

Selfie with a view of the savanna and carrying my backpack

Trail downhill, where the concrete road stopped, leading to the savannah

Ojek driver pointed these hills before I dropped off and described it as “Teletubby land.”

Bright yellow and purple flowers along the dirt trail

Dramatizing my long walk

This rock in the distance caught my attention because the view (minus the tall mountain and clouds) looked like it could be in the African savanna. I sooo wanted to go nearer but the thick bushes were in the way.

Trusty lightweight breathable Merrel barefoot shoes

Humans, finally!

The terrain started to become more dry and arid as I walked closer to the “sea of sand.”

The Sea of Sand

Mount Bromo’s crater was surrounded by a vast plain called the “sea of sand.” Looking from afar, I was definitely intimidated. Am I really gonna cross that swirling dustbowl on foot?

Dust clouds at Mount Bromo’s sea of sand

There were frequent hirable ojeks passing the area at that point.

I saw a local carrying two big baskets full of long grass-looking plants on his shoulder. He was about to cross the sea of sand too. The baskets he carried were suspended by a long pole. He looked funny walking on the trail almost totally surrounded by big bouncing baskets.

If that guy can do it,  I could do it too. He probably does it every day! I had to do it, even just to finish what I started.

A part of me also wanted to do it because I was attracted by the name “Sea of Sand.” It sounds so “Prince of Persia”-ish and exotic. I know it’s lame that I did it so, later on … I can tell my grandkids (or even just grand nephews) that I crossed the “Sea of Sand” on my way to a volcano in an island in the Pacific :D

Souvenir photo of my first glimpse of Mount Batok’s summit. Mount Bromo is hiding there somewhere.

Mysterious desert circles :|

Tranquil arid view

Not so peaceful view. These are incoming dust clouds, which hurt my skin. They hurt more when riding a speeding motorcycle. Best to cover up.

Cemoro Lawang

The hardest part was hiking up the steep road from the end of the sea of sand, up to the main village of Cemoro Lawang.

Catching up with the guy carrying the bouncing baskets

View of Mount Bromo and Mount Batok on my rest stop

After getting a cheap room at a guest house in Cemoro Lawang, I walked around the village and found a small charming eatery.

Food … finally! I was famished.

They served excellent Javanese coffee and delicious Mee Goreng (fried noodles). The perfect way to end my long hike.

Hot Javanese coffee

Fried noodles with eggs, the freshest vegetables, and topped generously with peanut bits

The next morning, I planned on visiting Mount Pananjakan, famous for its godly sunrise view of all three volcanoes: Mount Batok, Semeru, and Bromo.

You can find more details of my 4-day trip to Ngadas, Cemoro Lawang, Mount Bromo, and Probolinggo on my Mount Bromo Itinerary.