When visiting Bali, this is one of those bucket-list excursions that will leave you utterly speechless and in awe of nature.
A popular tourist site, Mount Batur is an active volcano, situated on the North East side of the island. The last eruption was in 2000, however seismic activity was recorded a few days after our hike, hinting at a impending eruption (which has since dropped). The excitement of climbing an active volcano is certainly enough to get the blood pumping!
We booked a private tour online with Bali Trekking Tour and were picked up from our hotel in Legian at 2am. We arrived around 3:30am and met our guide who supplied us with a torch and bottle of water. There are people at the bottom renting out thick, fleecy jackets to wear at the top – as long as you dress appropriately and pack a lightweight jacket, this isn’t necessary.
Standing tall at 1,717m, it is a steep ascent to the top of Mount Batur that usually takes around 2 hours. Although the trek is fairly strenuous, the pace is slow due to the number of other hikers and you can take as many breaks as you need.
Trekking in the pitch black following a single beam of torchlight is a very surreal experience – the not-knowing what is around you can be quite unnerving! The best part about the lack of light though is when you look back down the mountain and all your eyes can make out is a sea of torch beams snaking their way up the single path.
The majority of the hike is gritty underfoot, with loose stones and lots of dust. I was wearing a light scarf which I would recommend to reduce breathing in lung-fulls of dust. For footwear, a good pair of trainers or hiking boots are your best option. The terrain is too unstable for anything less. I wore shorts which were fine for the uphill trek as the weather is still quite humid and you work up a sweat. However, when you reach the top, you are waiting around for a while and can get cold quickly. I would advise wearing leggings under shorts and packing a wind-proof jacket.
As we neared the top of the volcano, our eyes had adjusted to the dark and we could start making out the shape of Mount Agung and the twinkling lights of the village. With just over an hour until sunrise, our guide made us a hot drink and a welcoming breakfast, consisting of a boiled egg, banana and toast.
With 200-300 people gathered on a mountain top witnessing the start of a new day, the atmosphere is alive with anticipation. Whilst we munched our way through 4 pieces of toast, the darkness began to lift and a light haze gave us our first glimpse of our glorious surroundings. You could see clusters of steam emerging from the deep crater, which quickly covered the area in a dense fog. As the sun began to emerge, the fog lingered creating a magical setting as they swirled around us.
I have never witnessed a more spectacular sunrise. The variety of colours were breathtaking, an experience I will never forget. With the addition of light, the mountain was a completely different sight – the sun shone off the lake below and you could just about make out the tiny buildings within the village.
After digesting these beautiful sights, it was time for the descent.
This, in my opinion, was a lot tougher than the hike up the volcano. The ground is slippy and steep with loose gravel and deep sand. I lost my balance and fell over more than five times even in sturdy trainers. The descent takes around 1.5 – 2 hours depending. We stopped off at some natural springs and felt the boiling steam released from holes within the volcanic wall. To get an idea of how hot this steam is, this is what the guides use to boil the eggs on the summit – this blew my mind!
We also saw a scattering of monkey’s which is always a delight! Tip: save some of your banana if you want to feed the monkeys – they are very tame and climbed all over people who fed them!
We arrived at the bottom of the volcano around 7:45am. Another thing worth noting is our guide was not paid for his services and relies on tips from tourists.
Our taxi driver picked us up and dropped us off at some natural springs on the way back so we could clean up and have a relaxing bathe in the warm water.
This was the standout highlight of my trip to Bali and I recommend to anyone visiting to add this trip to your itinerary. You certainly won’t regret it and the incredible views make everything worthwhile!