My wife & I got to do this in what's probably the best way possible. We were escorted by a guide from our bungalow hotel to ride bicycles through the night to get into position at Punthuk Setumbu just before sunrise. It was a bit risky, as the lights on our bicycles were not the best, & the village roads were extremely dark. We had to agree that if someone was going to stop they needed to announce clearly "Stopping!" We narrowly averted a few pile-ups. But once we figured out how to navigate safely in the dark, it was fine.
Once you get near the hill, you stow your bicycles with a villager & walk up to the top a gentle incline about 100 or 200 meters. No problem.
We had a very scenic morning sunrise with the sun rising over the right shoulder of Mt. Merapi. The guide (& an app on my iPhone) informed us that if you're there during June to July the sun rises perfectly between Mt. Merapi & Mt. Merbabu.
We set up our tripod & go some very worthwhile images on top. We also met some other tourists there & exchanged experiences a bit while taking our images. Our guide once saw Richard Gere & his daughter up here, though he was surrounded by bodyguards who kept everyone else at bay.
On the way back we briefly visited a family who had just had a death the night before in their household--for real (& made a small donation to the funeral). Before returning to our bungalow we stopped for a while at a village ladies' very simple cottage industry making little clay lamps & dishes, then a very picturesque & rustic tofu (tabu) factory, we shot images of duck herders, & then got several worthy images of sellers in the traditional market near the entrance to Borobudur, & picked up a local coffee & breakfast there as well.
Strangely, since then our guide Bapak. Jamal moved to Prambanan, & there's some question about whether anyone else is offering bicycle tours to Punthuk Setumbu. It was an awesome good tour experience--especially for photographers since you could stop your bicycle whenever you wanted & take images without having to convince a driver to pull over. This should be a regularly offered experience at Borobudur.
It was such a great experience that I'm working with a local man to arrange to take photographers on this tour in the near future. DaveRayPhoto.com
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