Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
Gunung (Mount) Bromo in East Java is the popular name for the Tengger Caldera, an ancient volcanic crater that later saw several smaller volcanoes form inside it. Located on the overland route between the Central Javanese city of Yogyakarta and Bali, it is a popular stop for tourists traveling between them, and one of Indonesia's best tourist attractions. It is a must for fans of volcanology everywhere.
Your first step is getting there. Most tourists reach Mount Bromo from while in transit from either Yogyakarta to the west, or the island of Bali to the east. The bus from Yogyakarta takes most of the day, and you will arrive on the slopes of the caldera after dark. The overnight bus from Bali crosses islands by ferry. All these buses converge on Probolingo, the town at the foot of the mountain. If you are going directly to Bromo, fly to the city of Surabaya, take the bus to Probolingo, and then hire a jeep to take you up to the top.
The next issue is where to stay. The caldera rim sits at over 7,000 feet. Due to steep slopes and thin air, unfit visitors will want to stay as close to the rim as possible, but thankfully most of the guesthouses and hotels are concentrated in Cemero Lawang, the village there. If you are an avid trekker and want to stretch your legs, consider staying in the quirky pseudo-Bavarian lodge of Yoshi's a little down slope. The walk up will allow you to take in the views of the caldera's steep slopes, heavily terraced by farmers seeking to take advantage of the rick volcanic soil.
Wherever you stay, a jeep ride to the top of Gunung Penanjakan (9,088 feet) for a sunrise view of the caldera will be offered to you. Accepting this is strongly recommended. Even though you are in the tropics, Penanjakan is very high and it gets chilly up there. Be sure to bring a jacket or pullover.
Next is to explore the crater floor, and in particular to visit Bromo itself, a sulfur-spewing volcano. The caldera floor is a desolate moonscape, and there are few places in the world quite like it. Equestrians and those not up to a more than two mile round trip across the caldera can rejoice in the fact that ponies are available for rent. Jeeps can also be hired for the trip. Trekkers should enjoy the walk, and ought to take the time to make the often overlooked journey around the side of Bromo and it's neighbor, Gunung Batok, to take in the other side of the caldera.
Gunung Bromo itself is a stygian, otherworldly experience. It is among the most accessible active volcanoes in the world, and standing on the rim is like the Discovery Channel come to life. There is no lava most of the time, but the mountain's crater emits a constant stream of volcanic gas. Steps have been built along the side, leading to a spartan observation platform. Go up and enjoy the natural high point of your visit.