If you don’t take a picture it never happened, or so it seems nowadays with the popularity of selfies and all and sundry owning a selfie stick. But with the popularity of most tourist sites it’s hard to get a composition that doesn’t include someone in the background. However, Madakaripura falls provides an all-natural backdrop without another soul for miles. Dubbed as the final meditation place of Gajah Mada, the elephant general of the Majapahit Empire, a visit to the misty, streaming falls is the ideal post-Mount Bromo excursion: It offers a much less strenuous experience than climbing up the 250 steps to the sulfur caldera. The falls are located roughly 35 kilometers from Bromo near a village called Sapih and can be reached via Jl. Raya Bromo to Lumbang on the way to Probolinggo. It is a pleasant ride — ideally on motorcycle — on which you will find yourself unconsciously pressing the brakes as the villages you pass on the snaking mountainous roads are enshrouded in lush and equally mesmerizing greenery. Five kilometers away from the waterfall’s parking lot a man will appear from what seems to be a bus stop and will charge the entrance fee of Rp 3,000 (3 US cent). A narrow dirt road flanked by banana and durian trees along with casuarina and some colorful apiaries will lead you to another “check point” which is unchecked and abandoned with a permanently raised barrier. From there, it is another kilometer to the stall-laden parking lot with a statue of the great Gajah Mada in the lotus position and an empty fountain sitting dryly right in the middle of it. Be assertive and be on your guard. No sooner than alighting and touts will hound you. The trail however is quite visible making the falls easily accessible. A guide is in fact not necessary but if you choose one — or passively allow one to latch on to you — the cost will range anywhere from Rp 100,000. There have been instances of groups being charged over Rp 400,000, an outrageous price especially for a local doing nothing more than hold your hand when crossing the river. Negotiating is as advisable as bringing common sense since the area is still wild and mildly challenging to get through. You may have to cross the river about five times in total so proper footwear is essential as some rocks are deceivingly slippery. En route you will also encounter a number of stalls selling fried bananas, kopi panas (hot coffee) and tempeh (fermented soya bean cake) as well as hawkers selling ponchos for the stretch of trail which is rained on by bigger streams of cold and refreshing water. Do bring your own raincoat, unless you don’t mind getting drenched and riding home using the wind as your natural blow dryer. After a kilometer trek you will find yourself wading anywhere from shin-deep ripples to a mid-chest pool before getting to the lagoon, the hidden reward for your hard work. This last step requires clambering over a crest of rocks. There, the 200 meter-high waterfalls reveals itself in full showing how the canyon is really like a special chamber of sorts of all things natural. Apart from the several waterfall cascades, when light pours in at the appropriate time of day it illuminates the basin making the cliff’s fauna even brighter and more vibrant in color. The rushing water makes it difficult to hear and the large boulders lining the river are reminiscent of dinosaur eggs. It isn’t recommended to visit during the wet season as the water gets pretty muddy and the risk of flooding and landslides are much greater. Though we didn’t see any macaque monkeys, I heard that in fact it’s a good thing—they sometimes toss rocks off the cliff’s edge. But don’t worry, helmets are not required and if they were, I’m sure there would be several hawkers renting them out for a nominal fee. Finding yourself away from the frenzy of shutter-pressing tourists will make you really appreciate the pristine waterfalls and the feeling of being like Indiana Jones trekking right into the heart of the jungle. Crossing barefoot a river and pushing through branches sticking out into the pathway, your only obstacle to good times and people-free selfies!