As I was planning my trip to Indonesia, I came across a picture of a waterfall that seemed too good to be true. I honestly thought this image of a massive semi circled waterfall with a volcano out in the distance must have been photoshopped. But in reality the Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, also known as Coban Sewu or Air Terjun Tumpak Sewu, is most definitely a real thing and one of the most special places I have visited. This guide will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know to visit the waterfall on your own.
1) Tumpak Sewu Background
Name: Tumpak Sewu / Coban Sewu / Air Terjun Tumpak Sewu
Location: Lumajang Regency, East Java, Indonesia
Nearest Major City: Malang
Where to Stay: Dear Traveller Guest House & Glamping
Cost: 20,000 IDR / $1.50 USD for Viewpoint | 10,000 IDR / $0.75 for Trek
Hours: 7:00AM – 5:00PM
Name Meaning: A Thousand Waterfalls
How Long to Spend: 2-3 Hours (+ additional time if seeing Goa Tetes)
Tip: Get there for sunrise for some incredible views and little to no crowds (when I visited I only saw 2 other people for the 4+ hours down there)
2) Where is Tumpak Sewu
One of the reasons Tumpak Sewu is not that crowded with visitors, is because it is not really close by to any major cities. Located in East Java, Indonesia, Tumpak Sewu is right on the edge of the Lumajang Regency.
The waterfall is located 2 hours southeast of Malang, 3.5 hours southeast of Surabaya, and 3.5 hours south of Cemoro Lawang.
If you are looking for the exact address of Tumpak Sewu, here is the official one from Google Maps:
Jl. Raya Dampit-Lumajang No.16, Besukcukit, Sidomulyo, Pronojiwo, Kabupaten Lumajang, Jawa Timur 67374, Indonesia
The below map shows the location of the waterfall entrance and highlighted is the massive waterfall itself:
3) How to Get to Tumpak Sewu
There are a few steps in actually reaching Tumpak Sewu Waterfall since it is located a bit off the beaten path.
First you will need to make it to one of the cities mentioned above. My recommendation would to start out in Malang and head off from there. Of course, you can also reach the waterfall from anywhere else in the country but for simplicity sake I just wanted to list out some of the major cities.
The easiest way to get to the area around Tumpak Sewu would be to either have your own car/scooter or have a driver take you there. I opted for the hiring a driver route as the roads in Indonesia can get very hectic with two lane streets turning into four lane streets and many drivers ignoring the rules of the road.
From Malang expect the cost of a driver to be anywhere around 500,000 IDR or $35 USD. If you are traveling with multiple people it is well worth the cost and removes any other logistic issues.
Your other option here is to go by public transportation, however after speaking with a few people who did so, I would not really recommend it due to the bus transfers and much longer journey time.
If you do go with a private driver you may be wondering how to go about getting in contact with one. You have a couple options here – book one through a reputable tour company beforehand, ask around in Malang once you arrive there (or any other city you may be coming from), or get in contact with your accommodation near Tumpak Sewu who can help arrange a car.
I went with the last option as the guest house I stayed in was one of the friendliest and helpful places I could ask for. Are you wondering which place that may be? Well take a look in the next section…
4) Where to Stay Near Tumpak Sewu
When it comes to accommodation options near Tumpak Sewu, there really aren’t too many out there. Thankfully though, there is one place that I seriously cannot recommend enough – Dear Traveller Guest House and Glamping.
From beginning to end these guys will take care of it all for you. Drivers, accommodation, food, guides – whatever you need, the owners and workers at Dear Traveller will have it covered.
After making my booking with them, I got in contact with the owners through Whatsapp, and they helped arrange a driver to pick me up from the Malang train station and take me right to the guest house.
It could not have been an easier process and it was a fantastic stay overall.
» If you would like to head there yourself feel free to book your room at Dear Traveller Guest House and Glamping ahead of time.
5) Tumpak Sewu Waterfall Day Trip
If you are not looking to stay overnight near Tumpak Sewu you can easily do a day trip from Malang as well. Since it is a 2 hour drive, you can make your way there early in the morning, spend a few hours by the waterfall, and then make the drive back at day’s end.
Similarly, you will want to either book a full day driver/tour ahead of time, hire a driver once you arrive in Malang or rent your own car/scooter. I would not advise a day trip from any of the other cities just because of the very long driving times back and forth.
There is also another waterfall named Goa Tetes that is usually done in conjunction with Tumpak Sewu since they are very close to one another in the valley.
If you would like to visit the other three though, I would recommend at least 2 days exploring the area. If you are just interested in Tumpak Sewu, then a day trip could work out just fine, and you probably will be able to add in one more waterfall if interested.
6) Packing List
Although you may just be visiting a waterfall, there are a few essentials that I would bring along with you to better prepare yourself for the trek down to Tumpak Sewu.
1) Dry Bag: since you will be getting wet during this experience I would highly recommend a dry bag to keep all your valuables safe. Take a look at this Earth Park Dry Bag to hold your belongings.
2) Hiking Shoes or Closed Toe Sandals: you will want to watch your step as you go down the slippery path into the valley. Having hiking shoes or closed toe sandals will be your best bet here. I would not recommend going down with flip flops. Take a look at the Keen Targhee III that I have been wearing recently or these Keen Newport H2 Sandals.
3) GoPro: if you want to get up and close to Tumpuk Sewu (and some of the other waterfalls in the valley) you will get wet. With that said, your camera equipment may get wet as well. Having a GoPro will solve some of those camera issues when dealing with water. Check out the GoPro Hero 9 for your travels.
4) Quick Dry Towel: after getting all wet down in the bottom of the valley, it is nice to have a towel to dry off. This Rainleaf microfiber quick dry towel has been my go to when it comes to traveling.
7) A Visit to Tumpak Sewu Waterfall
Now that you have a good background on Tumpak Sewu, lets talk a bit about the waterfall itself.
If you are staying at Dear Traveller or another accommodation nearby, they will be able to arrange transportation + guide for the day. This should cost somewhere around 200,000 IDR / $15 USD for your group (as of 2019).
If you are driving yourself or have a driver on a day trip, then once you arrive at the Tumpak Sewu parking lot, they should be able to connect you with a guide to take you down there.
While you can head down without a guide, having a local with you will help out tremendously. They know the routes, the tricky sections and all the spots to enjoy the views down below.
A) The Panoramic Viewpoint
At the waterfall parking lot, you will first pay the entrance fee solely to get access to the Tumpak Sewu viewpoint. This will cost just 20,000 IDR or $1.50 USD.
A quick 10 minute easy walk will get you to this panoramic viewpoint. From up top you will be able to see the entirety of the waterfall down below and on a clear day you should see Mount Semeru out in the distance.
This is the view that I first came across when planning my trip and could not believe that I was actually there myself after seeing those pictures for the first time. When it comes to waterfall views, there are few out there that can compete with this one.
B) The Trek Down
Now comes the tough part. After taking in the views from up top, it is time to make your way down below to the valley of the waterfall so you can get up close and personal to it.
For all of the major waterfalls in the area, you will basically need to make it from street level down to the valley floor and trek your way towards these massive forces of water. The descent down to Tumpak Sewu was one of the most exhilarating ones to take part of.
You will be dealing with rickety wooden/bamboo planks and stairs, plenty of uneven terrain, and will also need to hold on to some rope as you “rappel” down a section of small waterfall. Believe me here – this is not your normal trek. You will get that heart going and you will get wet too!
During this descent you will need to watch each and every step you make. It certainly is not for everyone to take part of and you need to be comfortable with the variety of terrain. You can see from the images below how technical this climb down can be.
The whole climb down from the viewing area should take the better part of 20-30 minutes.
C) Tumpak Sewu Up Close
Once at the bottom of the valley things will start to get much easier. You will continue to the right where you will soon pass by another ticket booth and pay for your entrance fee for the bottom of Tumpak Sewu (10,000 IDR) and also Goa Tetes (5,000 IDR) if you are heading there too.
Soon enough the waterfall will begin to come into full view and you will continue the walk towards it. Be careful as you get closer to it since you will probably start getting wet from the blowing water.
Once at the bottom of the waterfall there are several viewpoints to enjoy and depending on how long you would like to stay there, you can make your way to several of them.
I remember just sitting down on some rocks and spending some time in awe of what I was experiencing at that moment. Never have I been so close to such a beautiful vast waterfall.
D) Goa Tetes
After enjoying all that Tumpak Sewu has to offer, I would imagine you will want to head to Goa Tetes waterfall as well which about 20 minutes in the other direction down the valley. Along the way you are also sure to pass a bunch of other waterfalls as you trek through the valley.
Once at Goa Tetes you will actually be able to climb up the waterfall and enjoy a different type of waterfall experience. Learn more in the Goa Tetes Waterfall Guide.
E) Trekking Back Up
After spending time at Tumpak Sewu and Goa Tetes (if you choose to), it is time to head back towards the path out of the valley. Again, here you will need to be careful and watch your step as you make your way back up and towards the entrance of the park.
Once you are back up to safety, you can head back to the parking lot and onto your next destination – whether it be another waterfall, Dear Traveller, or back to Malang.
Your whole time around Tumpak Sewu should last about 4 hours if you are also adding in Goa Tetes. If only heading to Tumpak Sewu, plan around 2-3 hours or so, which would also depend on how long you would like to stay just enjoying the views.
Now that you have all the information you need about the Tumpak Sewu waterfall experience, it is time to make your way to it on your own.
Have fun out there and safe travels!