Here’s the tourist trail in Bromo: You wake up early, ride by jeep part way up Panajakan, hike the rest of the way to the summit where there are vendors selling coffee, hats, gloves, etc. Wait for the fireworks to start (on a good day it’s stunning, on a bad day I’ve been told it’s still worth the climb). After the sun is fully over the horizon, climb back down, reunite with your Jeep driver who will take you back down Panajakan and across the barren plain that lies in front of Bromo where you can walk or hire a horse to take you past the Hindu temple and to the feet of the nearly-vertical 250 stairs which, upon climbing, will allow you to look down into the depths of the active Bromo crater. It smokes daily and sometimes is shut down completely for fear of another eruption. Sulfur will choke you and gusts of ash dust will try to blind you but when you’re standing at the top there really is a bizarre happiness that settles into your bones, joy at having made it to the top and sheer awe at the majesty of nature you have witnessed.
It’s a strange land, constantly on fire under the surface, and harsh in a way that only a place in constant flux could be. Truly a place for pilgrims, whether religious, nature-loving or simply adventurous.