We had set the alarm for 2am. And also another for 2.05am since I am a serial snoozer. Ari, the driver, was due to pick us up from our villa at 2:30am to drive us to the base of Mount Batur, Bali’s most active volcano.
After an hour weaving our way north across the crazy Balinese landscape we arrived at the base. We were surrounded by pure darkness guided by only a few small flashlights. Angelica rented a sweater for 50,000rp (AU$5) as it was a little chilly, and we knew it would be even colder at the peak.
Ari introduced us to our guide who would lead us to the summit whose name escapes my memory at this point in time. There is a high chance it was either Wayan, Ketut, Nyoman, or Made.
Unsurprisingly, we weren’t the only ones who had this idea to wake up a couple of hours after midnight to hike a volcano. There were what seemed like hundreds of other tourists creating an ant trail of flash light beams ahead of us, and behind, climbing single file up the thin, but steep, dirt trail.
The hike starts off on fairly flat ground where you can just make out some farmland either side of the trail before you reach a more dense forest area. Think something like The Blair Witch project with people’s flashlights flickering through the canopy trying to make out their surrounds. This is where the hike gets a bit more serious. I’m no Olympian, that’s for sure, and this became even more apparent about halfway up the 1,717m caldera when I could begin to feel the lactic acid burning through my thigh muscles. It became steep and slippery. Our guide asked our group of 5 every few minutes, “are you okay? Does anybody need a break?”, but it seemed nobody in the group wanted to be the one who held back the others. We kept to a steady pace and reached the summit just shy of two hours after beginning – a little out of breath and very sweaty.
Finally, we had reached the summit! We were sat down on a rickety wooden park bench and a woman offered us each our choice of a coffee or tea. The warmth from the drink in my hands was welcome as the breeze against my sweat was quite cool. Our guide explained he would be back soon with some breakfast for us: some boiled eggs and sliced banana sandwiches.
Off he went to boil the eggs in the volcanic steam while we soaked up the first rays of the morning sun. The view was spectacular. The air was fresh. The lack of sound of traffic was a relief. Across Lake Batur we could see Mount Agung, Bali’s most recently erupted volcano (2017), and also poking it’s peak through the clouds was Mount Rinjani on the neighbouring island of Lombok. Some mischievous monkeys around us were doing their best to sneakily snatch some unsuspecting victim’s snack or water bottle surrounded us – successfully, indeed.
We spent an hour and a half at the caldera’s edge taking everything in mentally but also with photos, of course.
The hike down was a little easier than up, no doubt, but it was very slippery due to the dry gravel and steep decline so we had to take our time. Several people were comically sliding down the mountainside unintentionally. It was around 8am by the time we had reached the car at the base of the mountain waiting to take us back to our hotel.
And all of that was before I would have typically had my morning coffee.
The experience was fantastic and I would highly recommend it.
A little information:
- We booked our hike through AirBnB – https://www.airbnb.com.au/experiences/642648 ($54 all-inclusive – driver, guide, water, breakfast, etc)
- If you are staying in Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, etc you will need to wake up earlier.
- The guide gave us a bottle of water each which we went through pretty quick. There is water for sale on the mountainside but, of course, at an extortionate rate. If you want to stay hydrated buy some water at your local Circle K beforehand.
- I wouldn’t recommend wearing thongs (flip-flops) due to the uneven and slippery terrain.
- It can get chilly at the top of Mount Batur. I wore shorts and that was fine, but do bring a jacket just in case.