Madakaripura Waterfall: All you need to know to go without a tour!

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Most backpackers traveling in East Java, Indonesia haven’t even heard of the Madakaripura Waterfall! Can you believe it?! Since most rush through Mount Bromo, Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, and Kawah Ijen to get to Bali, they miss out on a secret natural wonder – Air Terjun Madakaripura!

You don’t need to book anything to go there and you don’t need a guide either! Let me tell you how to visit Madakaripura Waterfall without a tour!

Madakaripura Waterfall is part of my 14-day Java Backpacking Itinerary.

Madakaripura Waterfall at a Glance

The Indonesian name of this natural attraction is Air Terjun Madakaripura, where “air” = water (yeah, I know, it’s funny) and “terjun” = fall / jump down.

Madakaripura waterfall is the highest one on Java and the second highest in all of Indonesia (after Sigura-Gura Waterfall, North Sumatra)! At 200 meters in height, it will certainly take your breath away!

It’s also a unique waterfall, as it’s tucked away in a niche, surrounded by three sides with vertical cliffs, creating a hole for the water to fall literally on top of you. I haven’t seen anything remotely similar and I’ve had my fair share of waterfalls!

Totally worth a visit!

Just around the corner from Madakaripura Waterfall and the high cliffs on all sides
Madakaripura is behind the cliff on the left, surrounded on three sides by vertical walls.

How to Get to Madakaripura Waterfall

I’m assuming you don’t want to book a tour. Organized tours to Madakaripura waterfall are expensive for what they offer and it’s all quite rushed. The only benefit is convenience since you won’t have to worry about transport.

Getting to Madakaripura waterfall is not that hard though!

Where is Madakaripura Watefall

Madakaripura waterfall is located 30 km southwest of Probolinggo in the province of East Java. This is the exact location on Google Maps.

Madakaripura Waterfall is on the slopes of Mount Bromo and is the northernmost point of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. As such, it makes sense to combine a visit to Madakaripura with a self-organized hike of Mount Bromo.

Probolinggo is the Gateway to Madakaripura

First, you need to get to Probolinggo. The city has a railway station connected by daily direct trains from Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Malang, and Banyuwangi.

If you’re coming from Jakarta, allow more than a day to get to Madakaripura and Bromo, and consider spending a few days for authentic things to do in Yogyakarta.

Same if you’re coming from Bali – I’d advise you to spend a day or two in Banyuwangi, visit Kawah Ijen, and then continue to Probolinggo by train.

How to get to Probolinggo by train

Trains to Probolinggo timetable and cost:

  • Kota Malang to Probolinggo: A daily cheap train departs at 16:30 (arr. 19:12, 58000 IDR/3.9$);
  • Surabaya Gubeng to Probolinggo: The cheap trains leave daily at 05:35 (arr. 07:49, 27000 IDR/1.8$) and 13:47 (arr. 15:56, 88000 IDR/5.9$)
    There are also trains at 7:10 (arr. 9:02), 14:27 (arr. 16:31), 16:54 (arr. 18:47), 22:45 (arr. 00:34), and 23:50 (arr. 01:47) but tickets cost between 200.000 and 340.000 IDR (13.4 to 22.8 USD).
  • Yogyakarta to Probolinggo: There are many daily trains, but the one I recommend is from Lempuyangan Station at 07:20 (arr. 15:56, 88000 IDR / 5.9$).
  • Banyuwangi to Probolinggo: The cheap trains leave daily at 05:45 (arr. 10:08, 58.000 IDR / 3.9$) and 07:16 (arr. 11:18, costs 88.000 IDR / 5.9$). There are other trains at 11:15, 16:16, and 19:54.

Check and book all train tickets through KAI Access.

Alun Alun Probolinggo
Lots of street food at night also!

How to get to Probolinggo by bus

Public bus travel on Java is a bit tricky. Most buses don’t really have a timetable – everything is fluid and flexible. That also means you can just turn up at the bus station and get on the next bus.

From Surabaya, the bus station is called Terminal Purabaya. Buses to Probolinggo leave about once every hour.

From Malang, the bus station is called Terminal Arjosari. Buses to Probolinggo leave about once every hour.

From Yogyakarta: I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s way too long of a journey and you’re better off taking a train.

From Banyuwangi: I don’t recommend a bus from Banyuwangi to Probolinggo either – way too lengthy and exhausting. Take the train.

How to get from Probolinggo to Madakaripura Waterfall

Pro tip: If you arrive in Probolinggo in the afternoon, you’re better off spending the night in the city and going to Madakaripura (and Bromo) the next day).

Probolinggo has a really beautiful alun-alun (public square/park) and the central area is nice for a walk.

My advice for a place to stay is the Colorbox Hostel.

I’m sorry to break it to you, but there is no public transport between Probolinggo and Madakaripura. Well, to be fair, there’s rarely public transport to natural attractions anywhere in Indonesia, so this is not an exception to the rule.

Nonetheless, we’re backpackers, so we always find a way!

Get to Terminal Bayuangga

If you arrive in Probolinggo by train, or if you’ve spent a night in the city center, then you need to make your way to Terminal Bayuangga.

To get there, go to the main street – Jalan Raya Pantura – and take a bemo (small colorful minivan) westwards. Pretty much any would go to the Terminal, but ask. These cost 5000 IDR / 0.34$.

Alternatively, take a Grab bike (if alone) or car (if 2 or more) to the Terminal. It shouldn’t cost more than 15000 IDR / 1$ per person.

If you arrive in Probolinggo by bus, you’ll already be at the terminal.

From Probolinggo to Madakaripura

Option 1: Hitchhike to the waterfall. It’s not that far, Indonesian people are friendly and hitchhiking is easy on Java. Many locals go to the waterfall too, so chances are, someone will soon pick you up and take you all the way to the waterfall.

Option 2: Rent a scooter. It really isn’t hard to drive one, especially on roads with less traffic like this one. It makes sense to combine Madakaripura with Bromo if you rent a scooter. You can leave your big luggage with the scooter rental at the bus station and go up the slope with a small bag.

That’s what I did. A scooter costs between 100.000 and 150.000 IDR (6.7-10$) to rent for a day.

From Terminal Bayuangga to Madakaripura entrance it’s 26 km or around 45 mins by motorcycle. Drive straight until Leombang, then turn right towards the waterfall. Input exactly this address in Google Maps for the entrance to the waterfall.

Just before the entrance, there’s a car parking. If you come by scooter, just keep on going. This parking is for those with a car. They park their cars there and rent a scooter taxi (10.000 to 20.000, not more!) for the 4km to the entrance.

When you reach this location, park your scooter (5.000 to 8.000 IDR no more!) and you’ll be facing the entrance.

Price and Total Costs

As of 2023, the entrance fee to Madakaripura Waterfall is 45.000 IDR (3$) for foreigners and 22.000 IDR (1.5$) for locals.

Unless you hitchhiked, you will also have to pay for parking (5000 to 8000 IDR / 0.35-0.55$).

Unless you’re prepared, you’ll also have to pay to rent these:

  • raincoat (10.000-15.000 IDR (0.67-1$)
  • smartphone waterproof protector (5.000 IDR / 0.35 $)
  • flip-flops (10.000 IDR / 0.67$)

You can rent these either before or after the entrance.

You will also have to pay for a locker for your luggage and dry spare clothes (10.000 IDR / 0.67$).

The trail to Madakaripura
The trail to Madakaripura Waterfall

What to bring

This is a wet waterfall. Yeah, I know, I know, of course water is wet, but here I mean that Madakaripura isn’t one of those waterfalls that you observe from a distance. No, no, no.

At Madakaripura, you go under the waterfall!

You will be wet!

That’s why you need to bring (or rent, see above)

  • Raincoat OR swimwear.
  • Flip-flops;
  • Something to put your smartphone in, preferably a transparent ziplock bag;
  • Spare clothes.
  • Towel

What to expect at Madakaripura Waterfall

After the entrance, there’s a pleasant 2km (~30 mins) walk to the waterfall. In the beginning, it’s a well-maintained path, but towards the end, it becomes wet and slippery and in the very end it’s basically a small river.

There are a few sections where water will pour directly over you as you walk knee-deep in water.

Then, behind the last corner is a small pile of rocks that you climb over to get directly under the main waterfall. It’s a very impressive place and pictures don’t do it enough justice.

The combination of the spraying water, the thundering downpour, and the cold breeze create an exhilarating experience.

Simon in front of Madakaripura Waterfall
Here I learned it’s hard to take a good picture of moving water

Do you need a guide?

No, you don’t need a local guide to take you to Madakaripura Waterfall.

There will be locals at the entrance trying to convince you that you need their services to guide you to the waterfall.

Getting to the waterfall is straightforward and simple. You don’t need the guides’ help. Moreover, their English is mediocre at best and they don’t provide any significant information to make paying for them worthwhile.

Just say “bouten pak” (soft, throaty k, almost silent; it’s Javanese for “no thanks, sir”) and move on.

Parting words

Madakaripura Waterfall is an often overlooked natural attraction on Java. I argue it’s because it’s rather difficult to get to. But if you’re going to Mount Bromo anyway, then you should certainly add it to your itinerary. Now go and get wet!