The typical tourist itinerary to Bromo is to see the sunrise. From Surabaya, leave at midnight for a 3-hour drive to the mountains, where you transfer to a jeep to continue further up to the sunrise viewpoint and wait it out for the sun to peek out. Start the morning by walking around the crater, finish the journey at a waterfall, and return to the city by mid-afternoon.
I opted for sleep and a day-time visit to the active volcano instead. While that meant giving the sea of clouds and sunrise colours a miss, I was able to have the site pretty much all to myself by skipping the morning rush hour. This also means you get to see the beautiful scenery ascending up the mountains to the jeep transfer point.
The jeep is needed to navigate the rough terrain from here down to the crater and the Sea of Sand.
The jeep will drop you off in the middle of the Sea of Sand, where horsemen will entice you to pay and ride up to the volcano's edge. I opted to walk even though the price kept dropping as I trudged through the sand slowly. It would take about 30-40 minutes from here up. Bring a mask as the wind can easily create a sandstorm.
Interestingly, it wasn't the volcano's crater that was active today. The side mountains were smouldering instead.
The modest uphill section is not difficult to navigate. The promise of a beautiful view lies ahead. Keep pushing on.
After the short hike, you will reach a temple and a staircase up. Some steps are not so well defined and require a little scrambling.
This is as close to the volcano as you can get, and looking into the hole is a unique and scary experience. Bromo is active, so the danger of an unexpected explosion is very real.
From another angle looking towards the Sea of Sand and the volcano itself.
The scarcity of visitors during the daytime probably means the best time to come is for sunrise. But if you want some peace and serenity and not crowd out the mountaintop with hundreds of other tourists, think whether that sea of clouds and the sun peeking out from the mountains is something you really want.