overnight train from Solo to Surabaya, train to Probolingo, small bus to Cemoro Lawang, on the crater rim
Gunung, or Mt., Bromo was the highlight of our trip in Java (the food coming in a close second). To get to Bromo (or, more precisely, Cemoro Lawang, the small town that most tourists use as a base for exploring the Bromo region), you have to fight away quite a large number of transport touts in the town of Probolingo. Certain shady individuals in Probolingo have come to the realization that a key asset of their town is its location as a transit point to Bromo, and have decided to milk it for all it’s worth. But patience and skepticism eventually led us to a relatively cheap public bus (for which other tourists grossly overpaid).
Cemoro Lawang’s location is spectacular–it is at the very rim of a ten kilometer wide crater (the remnant of ur-Bromo’s eruption), most of which is flat and sandy but from which rises little Mt. Bromo, all ashy and belching gas, and Mt. Batuk, a dormant but pretty cone. We did as most tourists do and went to the high viewpoint by jeep for sunrise (negotiated directly with a driver for best value). From the viewpoint, one sees not only Bromo and Batuk, in the center of the crater, but also Mt. Semeru, the tallest peak in Java, in the distance.
Someone had told us that Gunung Semeru would erupt at sunrise. We thought she was kidding, but sure enough–right around sunrise, Mt. Semeru let us a huge plume of steam, which blew away as dawn arrived. The view was truly out of this world, one of the best in all our travels.