Madakaripura Waterfall, the Magical Curtain in East Java
Our trip to Indonesia brought us to Madakaripura Waterfall in East Java. You will see it when visiting areas around Mount Bromo, which is a part of a national park. The beautiful waterfall has historical and spiritual meaning for local people. Catching a glimpse of this waterfall is truly an unforgettable experience.
Hidden Waterfall in Mount Bromo Feet
Madakaripura Waterfall is an impressive sight. The water pours down in a form of wide "curtain," spraying a mist of water that resembles pouring rain. The cliff where the waterfall falls from is covered by ferns, mosses, and other plants. The waterfall is around 200 m high, making it even more impressive when you look at it from the lower ground.
We must walk for about 20 minutes from the entrance before even hearing the splashing sound. The trek was quite challenging, with a rocky and sometimes-slippery path across the forest. However, the reward was sweet, as the cool breeze and thin mist of water swept away our sweat.
Madakaripura Waterfall doesn’t consist of just one water curtain. We had seen four smaller waterfalls before we reached the main one. The water curtains end in a pool under the circular cliff formation. Standing there was an amazing experience. Looking up to the top of the cliff made us feel small.
History of Madakaripura Waterfall
There is an impressive story behind the presence of Madakaripura Waterfall. Locals believe that the cave under the main waterfall was the last meditation spot of General Gadjah Mada. He was a celebrated military commander of Majapahit Kingdom, who served under a king called Hayam Wuruk. The king granted him the land that we visited, which included the waterfall, as a thank-you for his services.
Another amazing story was about the final fate of Gadjah Mada. He was believed to disappear when performing a meditation under the waterfall. The Javanese called this disappearance as “moksha,” or total physical and spiritual liberation. To this day, locals still perform traditional rituals during special events, such as the Javanese New Year.
How to Get There
Madakaripura Waterfall was located in an area called Branggah, Negorejo Village. The location is close to the feet of Bromo Mountain, and the entrance is close to the road. You will see a statue of Gadjah Mada, standing cross-legged on a platform, with the waterfall’s name in big letters next to it. It’s pretty hard to miss.
Locals use public transportation to reach the feet of Bromo, but it can be unreliable. Your best option is to rent a car or motorcycle. You can start your trip from Surabaya, the capital city of East Java, through the road that connects Surabaya with Sidoarjo, Porong, Pasuruan, and Probolinggo. Our whole trip took around three hours.
When you arrive in Tongas area, you will see an intersection, with two signs pointing to the directions of Mount Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall. Follow the direction and keep driving until you see the waterfall’s entrance sign. It took around 20 minutes of extra driving from the intersection, but the view is breathtaking.
Ticket and Opening Hours
Madakaripura Waterfall opens for 24 hours, so technically, you can visit anytime. However, our local guide suggested leaving the waterfall before 2 PM. Apparently, rain often falls randomly during the day, which is dangerous because it increases the water debit. We were lucky because the weather was clear. If the rain had fallen, we would not have been able to visit at all.
The normal entrance fee to Madakaripura Waterfall is IDR11,000 (about USD0.78). However, you should consider hiring a local guide. Our guide was a friendly villager who told us incredible stories about the waterfall. The 20-minute extra walk felt lighter, thanks to him.
Rules and Tips
One thing we learned about visiting this waterfall was: don't forget to pack a plastic sheet and raincoat! We wore comfortable t-shirts, cargo pants, and trekking sandals. However, we didn't expect to get drenched when arriving at the waterfall. Bromo air is cold, and the splashes from the waterfall made use feel like standing under the rain.
We also forgot to bring a plastic sheet to protect our phone and wallet. Luckily, there were several stalls offering plastic bags to protect out stuff. They also rented raincoats, but we foolishly rejected the offer. We were just thankful that the weather was pleasant.
Tourists are expected to act respectfully in the waterfall. Locals revere this place, and many believe that rude behaviors will result in repercussions. You don't need to be a spiritual person or believing in supernatural stuff. Behaving respectfully is still good advice.
Our Trip Conclusion
If you plan to visit Indonesia, try exploring the areas outside Bali or Jakarta. East Java offers a lot of beautiful natural destinations, and many of them are still seldom visited. Visiting Madakaripura Waterfall in East Java will make you feel relaxed. These magical water curtains are definitely something we would like to return to.