The first and most popular involves sharing the cost of a jeep to access the best viewpoints.
All guesthouses can arrange these and will charge between 80,000 and 100,000 rupiah per person plus 25,000 rupiah park entrance fee -- there is no need to find a group of other travellers to share the cost as this is handled by the local jeep association. The jeeps pick up passengers at 04:00 and take the roughly tarred road for two kilometres from Cemoro Lawang to the Gunung Penanjakan parking area, where you are required to exit the vehicle and commence the ascent of the mountain which forms part of the caldera wall. After a steep 45-minute walk, most visitors choose to stop at what is commonly referred to as viewpoint #2, approximately 200 metres below viewpoint #1, which is the peak of Gunung Penanjakan. Both vantage points offer stunning sunrise views of the caldera with Gunung Batok in the foreground, Gunung Bromo immediately behind it and towering Gunung Semeru in the far distance, completing an astonishing scene.
After sunrise, visitors descend Gunung Penanjakan to waiting jeeps, which then descend even further into the caldera to a parking area a kilometre from Bromo itself. Between the parking area and Bromo there are toilets and countless men with horses offering rides to the top for 30,000 rupiah -- it might be a good idea as the going quickly gets steep and is in many ways as punishing as the ascent of Gunung Penanjakan. Horses only travel as far as the 233-step staircase on the side of Bromo where a final punishing push is required.
From the metre-wide path at the top of Bromo you can see into an abyss that seemingly continues on into the centre of the earth. This vantage point also provides breathtaking views across the caldera towards Cemoro Lawang, Gunung Batok and Gunung Penanjakan. At this point, about 07:00, most people return to their respective jeeps for the ride back to their hotels.
A cheaper option is to walk from your accommodation to the summit of Gunung Bromo or Gunung Penanjakan for sunrise so long as your overnight accommodation is in the village of Cemoro Lawang. It's a three-kilometre, one-hour walk to the peak of Gunung Bromo from Cemoro Lawang and a three-kilometre, one-hour walk to viewpoint #2 of Gunung Penanjakan. Add another 30 minutes for viewpoint #1. Although this option is promoted by agents, in reality it's only undertaken by a minority of visitors.
Regardless of the method chosen, a reward of breathtaking views is the prize that awaits. This is definitely a highlight of any visit to Indonesia.
Note: It was reported on our visit that jeeps will once again take visitors all the way to viewpoint #1 at some time during 2012. Access to viewpoint #1 by jeep was blocked by volcanic ashfall in January 2011 and authorities have struggled to reopen the road ever since, but have seemingly made some progress.
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