Bali has always been a key holiday destination – from backpackers on the banana pancake trail to seasoned globe trotters who have returned to reignite their Balinese experience and also those who want to experience the Eat, Pray, Love trail. While pristine beaches, rough seas, surfers’ paradise, Hindu temples mark Bali’s soul there is another side to this Indonesian island. I decided to do a little un-Bali activity and climb Mount Batur – one of the active volcanoes on the island. Come let’s take you on a hike!
I was adamant on chucking the routine and on day 3 of my Bali trip, I decided to further upset my otherwise predictable routine by going on a hike to Mount Batur – a volcano with a height of 1717 meters located at the center of two concentric calderas.
Planning the trek
There are plenty of agents that organize tours to Mt. Batur. After comparing the prices with a few agents (we had done our homework before on TripAdvisor), we struck a deal for the Batur Sunrise Trek at a mere IDR 550,000 (for 2 people). It was a steal given that some agents quoted us as much as IDR 800,000 for one person.
Waking up and the ride to base camp
We woke up to the buzzing alarm clock at 1:30 am and by 2 am plonked into the rear seat of the pick-up vehicle. It was comforting to see that there were three other co-trekkers who had compromised their sleep to embark on the sunrise trek. The next pick up was of a lone lady who was at least 50 plus – and I thought – if she can, sure can I – well she turned out to be a seasoned trekker later unlike me. Never judge a person by his/her age!
As we cruised into the night, I could feel the cool mountain breeze on my skin. Enroute we halted at a small shop for coffee and banana fritters – something that I really needed to prepare my mind and body for what lay ahead. We reached the base of Mount Batur at 4 am– whoa there were hundreds of cars ferrying trekkers. Our driver quickly introduced us to our guides, handed our flashlights and breakfast (bread, jam, banana, boiled eggs and a bottle of water).
The first leg of the trek
At 4:15 am, armed with our flashlights we embarked on the trek on a volcanic gravel path led by our 2 guides – one in the front and one at the back of the pack. Soon I realized that this trek is not such a un-Bali activity after all! I could see a trail of flashlights as far as my eyes could reach in the darkness and understood that we have hundreds of fellow trekkers aiming for the summit by sunrise.
The first hour of the trek is quite easy as it involves walking on even land, although there is lot of loose volcanic stones strewn along the path, the walk was rather easy. Slowly the walk turned into a slight hike and I couldn’t see much of the place as it was pitch dark.
I was at the front of pack when we began the trek, and by the time we reached half way I was the last one. The 50 plus lady was way ahead of us and she was one of the first to make it to the half way milestone. Well age doesn’t matter, physical fitness does.
We took a short break half way and as I gazed up, I found myself standing under a starry night sky! I haven’t seen so many stars in the sky in a long time.
The last leg of the hike and the sunrise
After the quick break we were asked to proceed as we wanted to reach the summit before sunrise. Our guide warned us that now the hike is going to be steep and asked us to take our time and not exert ourselves. I could see the flashlights ahead of me making a beeline to the summit and some people were already up there.
It looked like an unachievable task. But I took one step at a time and I slowly began the last leg of my hike. The path is really small and only one person can go at a time. After hiking for the first 10 minutes, I was huffing and puffing and my clothes were drenched in sweat and my poor heart! To gain back some of my energy I stopped, sipped some water and reminded myself I definitely don’t want to go back from here. The guide stayed by my side as I was the last one in our group and he helped me climb a few difficult steps that were steep and I needed support.
At 5:50 am we finally reached the summit. I couldn’t believe that I achieved this uphill task (quite literally) a real break from my sedentary lifestyle.
The view from the top was mystical with Mount Agung standing tall among the clouds while we could spot Mount Rinjani (volcano in adjacent Lombok Island) at a distance. First rays of dawn were beginning to transform the night sky slowly. Although the view was magnificent we couldn’t see a proper sunrise as soon clouds engulfed the entire view.
Some of our co-trekkers went to the summit point which was further 10 minutes hike. We decided to stop here and enjoy our breakfast.
Crater Rim Walk
Later we went for the caldera walk along the volcano crater. The crater was a humongous 14 km wide! I had never known that a crater can be so big! If it decided to erupt (remember it’s an active volcano), we have no chance of survival. In fact there were a few places near the rim where smoke was coming out and we could feel the warmth! Somebody shouted – natural sauna!
The descent was quick like any other trek. However, as the path was a ted slippery because of the loose rocks, we had to ne careful. Nevertheless we reached the base in about 1 hour.
Midway we saw lake Batur which is now visible and at a distance was the black lava of a previous eruption from Mount Agung that wiped out an entire village in 1963.
We reached our hotel at 10:00 am and after taking a much needed shower and another round of breakfast went into a slumber with and aching body but a great sense of accomplishment.
Things to Remember:
- Wear good shoes – running shoes will work
- Wear trekking pants / loose pants
- Cotton wear
- Bring along a light jacket – it gets chilly up there, although you won’t require it during the trek as you will perspire!
- Do not forget your camera
- Book your tour at least 1 day in advance