Climbing a volcanic mountain in Bali

Climbing a volcanic mountain in Bali

To be honest, I had not really climbed a mountain before this so when my friends decided to hike up an active volcano in Bali for sunrise, I was naturally excited because I am always up for an exciting challenge!

Mount Batur is an active volcano located on the island of Bali and is 1717 metres high. The first volcanic eruption took place in 1804 and the most recent one was in in 2000.

I’m not exactly the fittest person and although I do like a run every now and then, I seriously lack the motivation to go to the gym that’s right next to my house, let alone climbing a mountain! So, I was a bit apprehensive to do this but decided this would be a good challenge to take up after lazing around beaches and enjoying mouth-watering food in Bali.

Here’s all you need to know!

Start by finding a licensed guide
Your first step will be to find a local guide who can organise the hike for you – there are a number of them and will guide you during the climb, provide breakfast and collect and drop you back to your hotel at a reasonable price. We went with a local company that we found on the streets of Ubud and had no complaints. But whoever you choose to go with, make sure it’s a local and licensed guide as it can be dangerous climbing without a guide and you can seriously injure yourself.

The best time to go
The local guides there told us that the best time to climb up Mount Batur is during the dry season between April and September. Also due to the warm weather conditions, the best time to hike up there is early morning for sunrise.

Prepare for it!

Plan your trek at least a few days in advance so you are fully prepared.

Firstly, make sure you pack very light as you will regret every ounce of additional weight on your shoulders when you are climbing up. Some of the most basic things you should carry are:

  • A light jacket – however warm it might be when you are climbing up, don’t forget to carry a light jacket as it got quite cold at the summit while we were waiting for the sun to rise
  • Shoes – trainers that will provide a good grip while you are climbing up and down. Please do not wear open shoes or flip flops
  • Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses – make sure you have packed these as the sun can be quite strong when you are descending down after sunrise
  • Water and an energy bar – to make sure you are adequately hydrated and fed! Depending on the tour company you go with, they will also offer you breakfast after sunrise. Don’t expect to be treated with a king-size breakfast – just a couple of boiled eggs and a banana! There are also a couple of stalls on the way up where you can pick up water and light refreshments

Because I was staying in Nusa Dua which is far from Mount Batur, I was picked up from the hotel at 1am! I couldn’t remember the last time I went to bed before 11.00 pm so this was going to be my first challenge! I tried my best to sleep at a reasonable hour to get enough rest. It is so so important that you get enough sleep before the hike. Very often, we misjudge how our body works and think it will be fine with a couple of red bulls and not enough sleep, but don’t risk it! If possible, plan to take the hike when you are staying in Ubud to get some additional hours of sleep as it is much closer to Mount Batur.

The climb
We drove for around two hours where we were joined by a bigger group. After some breakfast and coffee, we were given hand and head torches at the base of the mountain because it was around 3.30am and pitch dark. We now had everything we needed and so started our climb with our guide leading the way.

During the first 30 minutes I thought to myself “this is actually not too bad” and maybe I am more fit than I actually think! One hour later, I had a different take on my fitness level and I was almost about to give up. Special shout out to my guide who helped me hike up by taking my backpack off me and literally holding my hand when she saw I was about to give up. She’s obviously used to doing this every day, but that doesn’t take away the fact that she was the most petite person in our group and walked through the entire hike like it was a cakewalk! I was seriously impressed with the stamina and determination she displayed throughout.

The start of the trail is quite easy to climb but it starts to get quite challenging as it gets steeper and steeper. Your guide will stop for breaks every hour or so to give you some time to catch your breath, but the time you wait depends on you. You might want to rest for a long time, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so as then you would be late reaching the summit and therefore miss the whole point of seeing the beautiful sunrise at the top! I pushed myself a little harder and took a total of four breaks of not more than 2-3 minutes throughout the climb. The mountain can also be filled with lots and lots of people during the peak season so that can also slow you down.

The summit
When the summit was in sight, I felt a great sense of achievement. It’s not that I reached the summit of Mount Everest, but this was no mean feat for me. I immediately had to put my jacket back on as we were amongst the clouds on the top and it was so cold!

After grabbing our breakfast, we looked for a spot to perch ourselves and waited for the sun to show its face. Once the sun rises, you can enjoy breath-taking views in the middle of clouds.

The ascend
We took a good few hours to explore the volcanic mountain before starting our way down, which was not as hard as the ascend! (but still hard) It was way shorter and offered such magnificent views of Bali. You’ll want to take out your camera/phone at every point but take care of the gravelled path ahead, as you are walking down which can get quite slippery!

While I was ascending down, I couldn’t help but compare the experience I just had, with life in general. There were times when I wanted to give up but carried on and the experience, as a result, is something I would not want to miss! It was much more than just keeping up with your body. However, clichéd this may sound, it pretty much summed up life as it is. There are ups and downs, you’ll be thrown obstacles up and down your way, there will be times when you will want to give up and feel like you can’t carry on anymore, but then you keep yourself focused on the final destination and you will come out celebrating!

I would definitely recommend taking the time out to hike up Mount Batur if you find yourself in Bali. Because the climb starts so early in the day, you will basically finish climbing a mountain by 9.00 am! Seriously it’s not too hard and is a short trip.

For me, it was not only very enjoyable but also reminded be one of the most basic rules of life that there is a light at the end of every tunnel – you’ve just got to rise up to see it!

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Orlene Pereira

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