The large durian statue next to the blue sign reading REST AREA is kind unmissable if you’re a durian lover driving along the road that leads to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, Indonesia.
That, combined with the sign reading DURIAN ADA will likely cause you to swerve off the road whichever direction you’re heading in excitement to taste some Probolinggo Durians.
Pak Pungky Purwanto and his wife didn’t envision a Durian Rest Area when they started planting durians over 23 years ago.
That their land was located along a major tourism route was coincidence, but it meant that, as soon as they put out their first farm stand along the road bearing that DURIAN ADA sign board, suddenly TOURIST ADA as well.
Soon so many tourists were stopping by that Pungky decided to add the amenities for them.
In 2010, Agrowisata Kebun Durian Waturiti officially opened to the public, complete with toilets, a small cafe serving local favorites like homemade Wedang Uwuh, and comfortable resting gazebos around the farm for visitors to take a rest on their way to or from scaling Mount Bromo.
Of course, All Durian tastes amazing as breakfast after an early morning trek, but can you imagine Probolinggo Specialty Durians after a hike through the unearthly lavender and blue terrain of the volcano at dawn?
Here is your guide for Hiking Bromo On Foot and follow up with a Durian Feast for the Best Bromo Experience ever.
Hiking Bromo On Foot
Indonesia, the land of motorbikes, is also a place where locals struggle to imagine you might actually like to WALK. Yes, walking for pleasure and to burn appetite for Probolinggo Durians 😋
Before our trip, I struggled to find details on hiking Bromo on foot. Almost every blogger I could find visited Bromo ferried around by local Jeep Tour. But we knew that smelly, diesel-fumed, motion-sickness inducing Jeep Tours were not how we wanted to experience the awe of a smoking volcano-pit like Mt. Bromo.
We stayed in Sapikerap Village, about 30-minutes from the entrance of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. We left our hotel at 3:45AM heading for sunrise and were stopped 3 times by the Jeep Mafia – check-points on the road blocked off by locals who force you to stop your car so they can pitch you a Bromo Jeep Tour – and each time they told that it was not possible for us to take our private car any further. Two of these stops were before we’d even reached the village of Cemorolawang, where most of the hotel are located.
On the third stop, we only got through the check-point when I asked (in Bahasa) if it was illegal for me to go further on my own. The Jeep Mafia backed down and let us go on to Seruni View Point.
Sunrise 1: Seruni View Point
This view point is where everyone goes to watch the sunrise because Mt. Semeru is exactly lined up behind Bromo and the cinder cone Mount Batok, so you get 3-volcanoes-in-one-photo. It’s pretty amazing.
Note that Seruni View Point is not inside the National Park, and it costs only IDR15,000 per person to enter this road. So if you are on a budget and just want to see Mt. Bromo from afar, this is a way to do it.
To get here, you should plan to arrive around 4:30AM, as by 5AM it’s already getting light. You drive about 10 minutes past the last Jeep Mafia Stop up a winding, steep road. The road is paved the whole way and you could traverse this in a Nissan March if you wanted, but there are a few spots with bad potholes so Gear 1 and take it easy.
On the way back down after dawn, you’ll find out this road is lined with leek and potato farms, and the views are equally stunning.
In the dark, you’ll know you’ve reached the parking area for Seruni Point by the number of jeeps lining the road, and also the men with ponies. As we slowed to find a parking spot, several of the horsemen shouted “Tourist!” and then literally ran after our car, their flip-flops pounding the pavement.
As at this point it was still basically night, the chase was a little alarming. But after declining the horse ride a few times (it’s very far, they warned), we were free to start the 15-minute climb (0.4 miles) up a concrete road and then a flight of stairs to View Point.
At Seruni View Point, there were already many local tourists milling about, drinking hot tea and coffee from the 2 small kiosks, playing music, laughing and shouting and having much merriment.
Although the view is spectacular, this may not be the Holy Volcano Experience you are looking for. If you would like more space and quiet, your best option is to continue climbing up toward King Kong Hill.
Sunrise 2: King Kong Hill
This viewpoint is accessible by foot from Seruni View Point OR by car on 30-minute drive from Cemara Lawang Village. We obviously hiked it.
Gorgeous. Let’s just say that. The path follows the ridge line up the mountain, with plunging vistas the whole way.
The distance from Seruni View Point to the top of King Kong Hill is another 0.6 miles, but give yourself extra time especially if hiking in the dark before sunrise.
The trail begins with a near vertical climb from the steps behind Seruni View Point. After that, the trail is not terribly steep but it is narrow, uneven, and slippery – wet with dew.
The trail is not well maintained, which is why it’s such a surprise at the top to suddenly find a viewing platform and well-paved road lined with Shasta Daisies.
At the top of this road, you’ll pass through a garden of Javanese Edelweiss to a cluster of shops selling coffee.
Warung Bukit King Kong is a restaurant with excellent views over the Tengger Valley and could be your breakfast spot.
Hiking to Mt. Bromo
After Sunrise, all of the jeeps parked at Seruni View Point trundle off to the Sea of Sand in the National Park.
If you’ve been dawdling around King Kong Hill, you’ll return to the parking spot to find your car quite alone – ponies, coffee-hawkers, tourists – all gone.
The National Park entrance is located about 10 minutes back down the hill, perched on the brim of the Tengger Caldera. Motorbikes are allowed to cruise down into the Sea of Sand, but 4-wheel cars must park at the entrance to the National Park and either take a jeep or walk down (we walked. Durians are coming, we wanted our stomachs to be ready).
Note that the National Park now requires you to register and pay online before entering and there is a quota system. When we visited, only the Bahasa-language portal was functioning. You also have to pay via bank transfer -– no credit card option. Luckily one of the park officers is happy to transfer for you if you hand him the cash plus 10,000 extra for a “transfer fee.”
After that, you have 24-hours to explore the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park on your own. You are allowed to leave the park and return under the same pass.
From the Park Entrance, the paved road drops 400 meters in elevation over just 0.6 miles to the Sea of Sand. From here it’s a straight shot to Mt. Bromo; you can see the red stairs up its collapsed sides from a mile away.
And here in the Sea of Sand, it’s finally quiet. The wind whistles through the brush, the ash crunches under foot, Mt. Bromo quietly puffs into an infinitely blue sky.
You will begin climbing, but so gradually it’s unperceivable, until the land begins rolling into the many toes of the volcano. Keep following the motorbike trails through the dust.
When you begin to smell horse manure from the many ponies stabled at the foot of the Stairs, you know you’re almost there.
In total, it’s just under 2 miles from the National Park Entrance to the top of the Stairs at Bromo’s Brim, and took us 50 minutes including stopping to take tons of photos.
Circumnavigating Bromo – Not Recommended
From the top of the stairs, you can walk along the Brim. The acrid sulfur, the high elevation (you’re over 8,000 feet now) and the sweeping views over the Tengger Valley and into the Bromo Caldera are all quite breathtaking.
There are no guardrails, no guards, and nothing but your own commonsense to prevent you from self-sacrifice to Lord Brahma.
The Brim Trail has 2 peaks, and the 2nd peak (0.8 miles from the Stairs) is where you should stop. There is a small concrete cairst so you know when you’ve reached the end of the road.
Past here, the trail becomes terrifying – extremely narrow, the soil and shale crumbling under your feet and hand, your head beginning to play your epitaph in the local newspaper:
“Adventurous Tourist Falls Into Volcano And Dies. OMG Tourists Are So Dumb Sometimes 🙄”
So sit down, enjoy the view, have a snack, and get ready to *safely* return to your car.
It took us just 40 minutes on the way back, sans taking pictures. Besides, we were getting hungry.
Durians were waiting.
About Desa Waturiti Village
Desa Waturiti Village is only about 15 minutes down the hill from Gubek Ndeso Homestay in Sapikerap Village, but in those 15-minutes you drop 500 meters and a layer of clothing until by the time you reach Waturiti you’re back in the comfy tropics.
Desa Waturiti has become fairly well-known for durian, especially with so many durian-loving tourists passing by, and many people have found it worth it to set up small tables or stalls hawking durian – with varying levels of infrastructure and commitment.
Salleh’s Neighborhood Stall
We first stopped at Mbak Salleh’s small Toko shop in the middle of the village.
The shop veranda was crowded with kids sucking popsicles, all of whom eyed us warily and with many giggles.
Mbak Salleh herself just has 1 tree, and most people in the village have just one or two in their backyards. The day we visited, she was selling durian from just 2 trees; a Monthong, and a seedling tree she guessed was about 30 years old.
We of course started off with the Lokal. Even in our half-starved craze after hiking Bromo all morning, we had limited interest in the Monthong (although it smelled tree-dropped and tasty).
These Lokal durians were itty-bitty tiny, each about a half kilo or less and just one or two sections inside. But there’s something about tiny durians – they’re often really excellent. These were no exception, freshly dropped off the tree, numbing, and just a hint of bitter under the overwhelming milkiness.
If we weren’t on our way to the bigger Agrowisata Kebun Waturiti, I might have just bought the whole lot – at IDR 15,000 ($1.03 USD) each, we would be stuffed and satisfied for IDR 100,000, which is cheap in Java.
But there was more to explore: specifically Named Varieties from Probolinggo Regency.
The Durians at Kebun Waturiti Bromo Durian Farm
Pak Pungky is something of a collector. Of his 250 trees, he has over 30 varieties, with grafted durian trees from Bogor and West Java, Kalimantan, and even Malaysia. And of course, local Probolinggo Regency Specialities.
Those were what I was most interested to try. I love Regionalism, and I wanted something new and special to remember our trip to Bromo.
So Pak Pungky whipped out a Si Karim and a Si Sukron for us to sate our Hiker’s appetite, with a glass of the local brew called Wedang Uwuh.
Durian Si Karim
This durian had a strikingly long shape. It’s big too, maybe 2.5 or 3kg, like a Monthong but skinnier.
If we’d been in Central Java, they would have named it Petruk, but thankfully East Java doesn’t have the same obsession with naming everything vaguely pointy after the famous puppet.
This durian was right up my alley. It’s white creamy flesh was not particularly sweet, but did have an interesting herbal, chemical sweetness paired with a milky smoothness we quite enjoyed and gobbled right up (we had been hiking all morning, so hey!)
Durian Si Sukron
Next, Pak Pungky handed us his wife’s pick: Si Sukron. This was a totally different world of flavor and texture.
Thick and pasty, there was something about it’s floral flavor that reminded us a lot of Sionggong in Borneo, but without the nuttiness and hint of bitterness. After a few tries, we got over our prejudice against sweet durian and were able to really enjoy it, especially its lingering sweet aftertaste.
I loved that it was served very fresh, so there was no staleness or aloholic ferment.
It was so good that I looked longingly at the piles of durian still waiting to be discovered.
But after the huge size of Si Karim, we were sated.
We’ll be back to try more!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Gubek Ndeso Homestay in Sapikerap Village, which is actually about a 30-minute drive down the very windy road to Bromo National Park entrance.
We chose this hotel based on reviews and price (IDR 295,000 or $20 USD), since many of the “homestays” in the village outside Bromo National Park had both terrible reviews and terrible prices.
We were not disappointed. Gubek Ndeso Homestay turned out to be one of the best hotels we stayed at in Indonesia. It is not actually a homestay, but a small hotel with very clean rooms, hot water shower (important because it is cold at night here) and fantastic internet. We were sad we didn’t stay another night. Thanks to the manage, Ari, for a great stay ☺️
How to get to Bromo & Agrowisata Kebun Durian Waturiti Rest Stop
Kebun Durian Waturiti is located just 15 minutes from Gubek Ndeso Homestay and 50 minutes from the entrance to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.
It’s located on the only road headed to Mt. Bromo, so you’re sure to pass by, and if you need a bathroom break or a durian break, make sure to stop by and say Hi.