The Tumpak Sewu waterfall from the panoramic viewpoint
travel guide

Hiking to Indonesia’s magical Tumpak Sewu Waterfall

Referred to as the Niagara Falls of Indonesia, the Tumpak Sewu waterfall is one of the most beautiful in the world. Tumpak Sewu means “A Thousand Waterfalls” in Bahasa Indonesia and, watching the many columns of water tumbling down, it’s easy to understand how these falls got their name. 

Visiting these waterfalls is a unique adventure that is even more appealing because the falls are concealed from crowds, despite falling from around 120 meters high. Beyond the waterfalls, an active volcano rises in the background, adding even more intrigue to an already fascinating location. 

Even in a country like Indonesia, which is well known for its lush tropical forests, beautiful temples, and glistening waterfalls, the Tumpak Sewu waterfalls is easily one of the top of places to visit.

The stunning Tumpak Sewu waterfalls in Indonesia

How to get to the Tumpak Sewu Waterfalls

The Tumpak Sewu waterfalls are situated in Lumajang Regency, in east Java. It’s a relatively remote location, a significant distance away from any major city -  about 3.5 hours to the south of Cemoro Lawang, 3.5 hours southeast of Surabaya, and 2 hours southeast of Malang. While it takes a bit of effort to visit, it’s worth going the distance - and the remote location means the falls are almost never crowded with tourists.

You can visit the waterfalls from Cemoro Lawang, Surabaya, or Malang, however Malang is the closest to the waterfall. Driving is the easiest way to get there - either hire a driver or rent a car or scooter. I chose to have a driver as the Indonesian roads can be quite hectic and I wanted someone who was used to driving there - expect to pay around 500,000 IDR when hiring a driver from Malang.

Another option, although I would not recommend it, is to go there by public transportation. Just keep in mind that the journey takes longer and there are multiple bus transfers.

The forest and Tumpak Sewu waterfall with the volcano in the background

The trail to the Tumpak Sewu Waterfalls

As you hike down to the base of the waterfalls, you will get to explore the beautiful and lush rainforest in Lumajang. The trail can be a bit challenging in places, but that's one of the reasons why it's so fun. Be careful while trekking down because the trail can get slippery when wet. There are some metal railings, bamboo bridges, and ropes that are fitted to the cliffs to help you as you make your way down the waterfall. 

Once you get to the parking lot of the waterfalls, you can find a guide to help you along the hike. It’s worth having a local guide as they know the lookout spots, routes, and the sections of the track that can be tricky.

The panoramic viewpoint

Before you can even get access to the viewpoint, you will have to pay an entrance fee of about 20,000 IDR.

Walking for about 10 minutes will get you from the entrance point to the panoramic viewpoint, and it is from here that you will be able to see the whole waterfall below and even possibly Mount Semeru in the background on a clear day.

This part is one of the highlights of the hike and it is one of the main places where people take beautiful pictures when they visit the waterfalls. 

Looking down from the viewpoint terrace, you get to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. The waterfall flows in the middle of a circle of trees, providing an aesthetic that is even more breathtaking than pictures might suggest. 

Although you could stay at the top and enjoy the panoramic view, the best experience definitely comes after you’ve hiked down the slope and through some water. 

If you can make it to the waterfall by sunrise, I recommend that you do because the lighting at this time is perfect for taking very memorable photographs. 

A woman on a rock in front of the Tumpak Sewu waterfalls

Seeing the Tumpak Sewu Waterfalls up close

After you have enjoyed the beautiful views from the top, it is now time for you to trek down to the valley of the waterfall so you can get a closer look. 

The descent to the waterfalls might be tough but it is also one of the most exciting things that you would get to experience. You would be dealing with a lot of uneven terrains, as well as makeshift stairs, so prepare to get your heart pumping while being soaked. 

Each step you take must be with care as this is a very technical climb down. This part is really for people that are comfortable hiking through complex terrain. 

Once you get to the bottom of the valley, your movement will be much easier. As you go on, you will eventually pass another ticket booth where you would have to pay an entrance fee to the bottom of the waterfalls. Depending on the extent of your hiking adventure, you would either pay 10,000 or 15,000 IDR. 

Not long after, you would begin to see the full view of the waterfalls as you get closer to them. Be careful though, as you are very likely to get drenched by the blowing water. 

Once you get to the bottom of the waterfall, there are some great views that you can enjoy, and you can enjoy as many of them as you like depending on how long you would like to stay there. 

Stalactites and water flow at Goa Tetes, Indonesia

Goa Tetes waterfalls

From the Tumpak Sewu Falls, you can continue on to Goa Tetes for a different sort of waterfall experience. Here you will find a maze of waterfalls and rock and the highlight of Goa Tetes: the cave behind the waterfall. Take care if you choose to climb up the waterfall - the rocks are wet and slippery. At the top, take some time to explore the cave and see the waterfall from above.

Goa Tetes is about 20 minutes from Tumpak Sewu and the trail takes you past a couple of other waterfalls on the way. When you head out of the valley and back to the entrance, take care to watch your step. The path back up can be a bit precarious.

Essential information

The best time for you to visit this waterfall is during the dry season. This is usually between mid-April to November. Visiting in the rainy season will make the hike more challenging however

You can expect to spend around four hours hiking, depending on whether you visit the extra waterfalls and how long you spend enjoying the views. Combined with the travel time to get here means this trip can easily take a full day.

If you'd like to spend some more time exploring Lumajang, there are a handful of accommodation options close to the waterfall. Stay in Artha Cottages in Sidomukti for comfortable rooms, a pool and a restaurant.

Tumpak Sewu waterfall in Autumn

What to bring

  1. Dry bag: This will ensure that any clothes or items you pack will stay dry even while you’re constantly sprayed with mist from the waterfalls.

  2. Hiking shoes: You need to get some waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet dry and to avoid slipping as you make your way through the trail. You can also waterproof your own boots if you don’t have proper shoes.

  3. Waterproof camera: If you want to get some incredible shots but don’t want your phone to get wet, then you might want to invest in a GoPro.

  4. Clothes: Either wear quick-drying clothes or bring along a change of clothes for when you ultimately get drenched. Although the best time to visit is in the dry season, there’s always a chance of rain so pack a rain jacket just in case!

  5. Towel: This is great for when you need to dry off, especially after standing under a waterfall.

  6. Sunscreen: You should be visiting during the dry season, this is a particularly hot time in a usually hot country. So, pack some sunscreen to keep your skin protected.

  7. Drinking water and snacks: Make sure you have a lot of drinking water with you, and if possible, a few snacks as well. There are a few shops in the parking lot where you can stock up on some snacks and water.

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Catalin Geangos

Author - Catalin Geangos

Catalin Geangos is the Founder and Editor of TravelTrained and a travel blogger who focuses on travel guides destinations in Southeast Asia. Visit his outdoor site outdooradept.com for hiking tips and hacks.

Last Updated 24 October 2022

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