“BETTER TO SEE SOMETHING ONCE THAN TO HEAR ABOUT IT A THOUSAND TIMES”
I love travel. I love the outdoors. I love hiking. I love sunrises. So you can imagine my excitement when I was in Ubud and booked a sunrise trek up the famous Mount Batur!
Mount Batur is an active volcano north west of Mount Agung on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Reaching 1,717 meters, it is recommended to hike Mount Batur early in the morning due to the high daytime temperatures; and watching the sunrise is a beautiful way to start the day!
We went with a local guide who picked us up from our hotel, provided headlamps, breakfast, water and educated us about the active volcano. You’ll notice most people will be in groups with local guides, this isn’t a requirement, Mt. Batur is not a managed tourist attraction and there is no entry fee. However, there have been incidents in the past where solo hikers have been harassed by the ‘local mafia’ for not having a guide. Whether or not you think it’s worth it to save some money is up to you, but I really enjoyed our guided trek and it was nice to have someone take care of everything rather than organising it all ourselves for a change.
Our hotel pickup was around 3:00AM from our resort in Ubud and since it was only my friend and I, we drove straight there. Upon arriving we put on our head torches, secured our back packs and headed up in single file. Now, if hiking in the dark sounds a little daunting, just think of it like this…do you really want to see the mountain you’re about to climb? Or would you rather see how far you’ve come once you’ve done it?
The hike is a little technical in parts, requiring some concentration as you get to the steeper areas, but the guides are great, they allow plenty of time for short breaks for those who need to catch their breath and you’re guaranteed to be rewarded once you reach the top. Our guide brought us to a little wooden hut where we were able to sit and enjoy our breakfast as the sun started to rise.
Once we experienced the gorgeous displays of oranges and yellows as the sun peaked out from behind Mount Agung, our guide led us closer to the crater where we met some of locals. Be mindful of these cheeky little monkeys! They may try and steal food or other loose items if you aren’t careful. The crater itself is quite impressive with an ever present cloud of steam – no oozing or bubbling lava I’m afraid – but still spectacular none the less!
Climbing back down the mountain for some may be more difficult than ascending as it can be steep and slippery in some areas, but your guide will let you know when it may be challenging and will take it nice and slow. There will also be a lot more time for stopping on the way down as you’re going to be able to see the incredible landscape that you missed whilst you were climbing up in the darkness.
Overall, the experience was one to remember and I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves the great outdoors and getting active whilst traveling.
TIPS FOR YOUR TREK:
CLOTHING: I wore long tights and a t-shirt, but it can get quite cold at the top of Mount Batur, so even though you may not need a jacket whilst climbing, it’s good to have one at the top once you start to cool down. I tied mine around my waste and was very thankful for it in the end.
FOOTWEAR: More so for descending, it is good to be wearing shoes that can grip well as it is very easy to slip on the way down. No need to go out and buy brand new hiking boots, but definitely no flip flops/sandals.
LOCAL GUIDES: It is possible to hire a guide or book a tour at almost every hotel/travel agent in Bali. I would recommend avoiding the ones on the street as there have been cases where the tours are not genuine or they are very overpriced. Booking with your hotel/hostel you are guaranteed a legitimate experience. Try to scope whether the tour/guide includes hotel pickup and drop off, breakfast, headlamps (some only issue hand held torches), bottled water etc. Try to get the most for your money!
WATER: Our guide gave us bottled water to take with us, but keep in mind that not every guide will do this, or you may want more, so take your own just in case. You can always leave it in the car if your confident your guide has enough.
FOOD: Our breakfast was included in our tour, but you may find yourself a little peckish before or during the climb, so having a muesli bar or nuts on hand is good for snacking.
PREPARE: If you’re not generally an active person, but this is something you want to do, it’s definitely possible, but keep in mind it is 1,717 meters high and can be quite steep in some areas. The guides are really accommodating, and do stop very frequently for people to catch their breath, so don’t feel deterred – you can do it!
TOILETS: There are no toilets near the volcano, so if you do need to go, you will need to let your guide know and like ours did, can take you somewhere on the way back. Ours dropped us off at a local tea and coffee plantation not far from Mount Batur. We were able to use the facilities and enjoy some beautiful tea and coffee. WIN! WIN!