The schedule for our Mount Bromo tour, given to me by Cak Ferdi, including the 6 tourist destinations was as follows:
1. Sunrise Penanjakan (Watch the sunrise at Penanjakan viewpoint)
2. Bukit Cinta (“Love Hill”)
3. Kawah Gunung Bromo (Mount Bromo Crater)
4. Pura Luhur Poten (A Hindu temple named Luhur Poten Temple)
5. Bukit Teletubies / Padang Savana (Teletubbies Hill / Savannah)
6. Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sands)
We were picked up in Malang and dropped off in Surabaya. Since Bromo is an absolutely beautiful place it made up for a lot of issues we had with the tour management. Nonetheless, I think it is important that I at least mention some of the issues we had with the tour in case one of you also plans on using this service. It is important to be informed of the good and bad issues. Not everything was bad by all means, but I think there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.
1. Jam-packed cars
After being picked up in Malang around 2100 and when we were on the way to the transit point (the point where we would switch from out passenger cars to four-wheel-drive jeeps), we were crammed up in one car with six other people. So, in total, eight people were in the car. That would be fine if the car could hold eight people, but the car was too small for that. Some people, including me, were squeezed in the second backseat for hours. It was very uncomfortable and also unsafe. The driver did not follow the legal restrictions of having the maximum amount of people in the car. Luckily, the ride from the transit point to Surabaya on the way back was more comfortable.
2. Disorganization on pickup in Malang
After being picked up we aimlessly drove around Malang for hours waiting for more people. Those people were to be picked up at a later time. So, why were we picked up so early? And why couldn’t we have waited in a hotel, a restaurant, café, or somewhere else. It was strange. We did not get any answers from our driver, as he was so vague about it. We just drove around for hours through the same streets waiting for two more guests. Poor organization.
3. Not enough snacks and drinks provided for the guests
The tour package included snacks, but we never really received any. Bottles of water and cheap chocolate bread were put in the car as a sort of free for all. And there was only enough for five people, while we had seven guests in our car. Maybe it is a better idea to hand out these snacks during the sightseeing in Bromo national park. People could use a refreshment then. It would be more welcomed.
4. Disorganization and chaos at the transit point near Mount Bromo
After arrival at the transit point it was absolute chaos. Nobody knew what to do. I had to carry my bags to different cars and drivers a few times. Before booking the trip I mentioned to the organizer that I wanted to be picked up in Malang and dropped off in Surabaya (Juanda International Airport). This was supposed to be no problem. But when I mentioned this to the people in the transit point, they were surprised and not sure what to do. Eventually, we just left our bags in a driver’s car and hoped for the best.
5. Lack of information and no briefing about the trip was given
We did not get any explanation about the trip, the itinerary (from the guides) or just meeting before we departed. Nobody gave use directions for viewing points. It would be extremely helpful if we got some kind of briefing about the trip. A meeting about what is going to happen. But we got nothing. The only information we had was the schedule given to us by WhatsApp message. Seriously, a short briefing before departure with all the guests would be extremely helpful.
6. Lack of toilets and trashcans at the transit point
There was only one toilet at the transit point and over thirty people had to use it. It was chaos. The line was extremely long and the toilet flush did not work and there were no trashcans to be found anywhere. That was just really disappointing because you can imagine how busy it was there after more than thirty people arrived at the transit point after car rides that lasted over four hours.
7. Departure chaos from the transit point to Mount Bromo
The transit point is the location where we could rest for a few hours and where we switched from our Toyota Avanzas to 4-Wheel-Drive Jeeps. Once it was time to depart from the transit point, it was absolutely chaos. We did not know which jeep to go into, and no one told us anything. Finally, we just went to the organizers and asked to be put in a jeep just to make sure we would actually go to Bromo. Then there was confusion about which jeep we had to go into and in the end we switched jeeps 4 times before we finally took off.
A suggestion for the tour organizer: make a list of the guests on the tour, count how many people there are, and divide them over the jeeps. Number the jeeps, and provide the contact information of the driver beforehand in case people get lost. Make note of who goes into which jeep. This is not just clearer for the organizers, but also safer in case something happens.
8. Poor jeep maintenance
Our jeep was poorly maintained. After visiting the sunrise point, the engine died. This cost us almost an hour and a half on the mountain. Luckily, some other guy of the organization helped us out after a while. Also, the door handle broke during the trip.
9. No contact information was exchanged
Contact information of the jeep drivers should be provided to the guests at the beginning of the trip and each guest’s mobile contact number (if any) should be written down too.
One jeep broke down during the trip, which meant that 6 other people had to be moved to other jeeps. We got one of these people, meaning that the limited space in the back became even smaller. Then, when we wanted to go to the next destination, we were waiting for this person for an hour not knowing where he was. We did know his name or number. After one hour our driver said enough is enough and we went on our way again without him. (It turned out this guest joined another group without informing us…)
10. Lack of coordination
During the trip there was a distinct lack of coordination of where each jeep and group was. One jeep and group was “missing” for a few hours. There was no contact with the driver and it was just waiting.
11. Chaos at the transit point after visiting Mount Bromo
After we were finished visiting Bromo and we were back at the transit point it was chaos once again. We had to go to Surabaya, but nobody knew what to do with us. Finally, after we told them we have a flight to catch, things started to begin to move. We switched drivers and made plans about 5 times. Only after we told them that we had to go to the airport (which they should have known already) and that we could miss our flight, we got a solution.
Side note: Two people of our group, who had to go back to Malang, were told they had to go to Surabaya first and then Malang. And the driver said “tidak apa apa kan?” like “it’s ok, right?”. That is an eight-hour detour instead of a two-hour ride. :v
That said, the area surrounding Bromo is incredible. It is one of the most astounding places I have visited in Indonesia. The views are nothing short of epic and stunning. There are beautiful mountains and such fresh weather that can be enjoyed there. I would highly recommend a trip to that area, even with Bromo Travel Indonesia. Just make sure you are appropriately prepared. I might even book another trip with them in the future. Ijen looks very interesting.