If you like hiking and incredible views, especially during a sunrise, then hiking Mount Batur is a must when you visit Bali. It was one of the best things we did and worth the money; however, it can be free if you go without a guide.
The whole purpose of hiking this mountain is to go in the middle of the night so that you can make it to the top for the sunrise. The clouds tend to roll in throughout the day making it almost impossible to see anything from the top so if you make it at 5:30 am you should have the clearest sky and the most beautiful sunrise gleaming over the land below you.
We planned our trip accordingly:
- Camp on the beach over night (Tianyar Tengah coast- east of Mt. Batur)
- Wake up at 3:00 am
- Drive to starting point of mountain climb
- Pay a guide on the spot to take us up the mountain (400,000 Rupiah for 2 people without breakfast/ 500,000 Rupiah for 2 people with breakfast – banana sandwiches and tea)
- Arrive at the very top by 5:30 am and watch sunrise
- Hike the outer crater of the volcano
- Visit the monkeys at the top
- Hike back down to car with the guide
The drive to the base of the mountain climb gave me extreme anxiety because we were driving the rental car which was a standard and a very weak one at that; so, we would be going up the steepest narrow road riddled with potholes and in first gear almost stalling because the thing couldn’t handle the incline. We had to make sure the car wouldn’t get damaged as well because we’d end up having to pay for it for “off-roading”.
About an hour later we reached the base of the mountain climb, but we could not seem to find an entrance point and we wanted to hike it on our own to save money. This was a bad start because if we couldn’t even find the entrance we most likely would get lost hiking up the mountain in general. Luckily, a man walked beside our car as we were pulled over and said, “hey! Sunrise trek?” With relief we said, “yes!” And he waved his hand toward the parking lot that was about 100 feet away from us, but we couldn’t see because it was pitch black. He introduced us to the man that would be our guide, even though we thought we would do it on our own, but there was such little time we couldn’t risk going alone and getting lost. We agreed to pay him to take us as he waited somewhat impatiently for us to put our sneakers and coats on (it gets cold at the top of the mountain).
Finally, we set off on our hike around 4:30 am so we had about an hour to get up this mountain that is supposed to take people at least 2 hours to make the sunrise…
Our guide does this daily for his job, but even he had to stop many times to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his face. Near the beginning we saw a couple that we caught up to on the trail and who were climbing without a guide. We started to hike together, but they continued on at one point while we took and break and ended up turning onto a different path that unfortunately never led up to the top. Long story short, we saw the couple at the bottom of the mountain hours later and it looked like they were never able to make it to the top on their own because we never ran into them again. So, if it’s your first time, go with a guide!
The last stretch was the most difficult part of the climb. It had more crumbling rocks to slip on and a steeper incline. We really had to put our legs into it and Enzo and I felt like we were going to throw up at one point. I also felt like I had full on asthma all of a sudden, which wasn’t pleasant. The mountain is 1,117 m (5,633 feet) tall and it is a volcano that last erupted in 2000. The altitude may have gotten to me a little… or I was just extremely out of shape. I would like to think the former.
I could see the sun starting to rise and it pushed me harder to get to the top. I pushed through the pain and we finally made it, passing our guide because he didn’t care as much about reaching the top in time because he sees it on the regular.
It was the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever seen. I always wanted to be above the clouds and see the sunrise and I finally was there in the moment. It was better than I could have imaged. We sat at the top, watched the sunrise, made ourselves peanut butter sandwiches that we brought in our backpack and just enjoyed every moment we could. Eventually our bodies cooled down and it was actually freezing, especially once the sweat froze on our clothes. The amazing thing is that the volcano releases a hot steam if you go close to the edge and you can warm your hands up when you put them in the steam!
After a little bit of relaxing we started to make our way around the edge of the crater and then down the mountain. I suggest asking your guide to walk the entire edge to get the full experience because our guide was planning on just taking us straight back down again so he could be done faster.
Walking around the crater is not as terrifying as it may seem. If you’re afraid of heights you’ll most likely just be focused on where you’re placing your foot next. The volcanic rock makes the trek somewhat slippery so I found it easier to glide through it pushing into the loose rocks with my heels. My guide kept grabbing my hands to try to help me, but he would grab both hands so I had no counter balance because my hands were placed on his shoulders in front of me and I slid down even more. I politely would say I don’t need help, but every now and again he would find a slippery spot and grab my hand to try to help me down… pretty sure he just wanted to hold hands at that point.
At the end of the crater rim we arrive at another resting spot where there were tons of monkeys hanging out. People would feed them bananas to get them to sit with them, but one voluntarily came and sat on my lap for a while and started to play with my jacket and hold my fingers. It was another thing I got to check off my bucket list!
Our guide started to get antsy and looked confused while he watched me play with the monkey. He didn’t like monkeys very much and shooed them away if they came near him. We sensed his eagerness to leave and we were okay with heading back down the mountain; however, he was way more eager than I assumed.
He began to run down the mountain. Slippery steep slopes were our track and I felt like I was continuously falling trying to keep up with my feet as my speed picked up down the hill. I was last in line with Enzo in front of me and our guide leading. I was in constant fear while trying to keep up so I wouldn’t get left behind. Soon, we started to pass by large tour groups that were casually walking down the mountain and they all stared at us in awe, but also like we were lunatics for “wanting” to run down this mountain. As I passed by people, my heart raced even faster and my eyes got blurry out of fear that I would slip and take out several other walkers. It was very difficult to try to pre-plan where my feet were going to land so I wouldn’t slip or twist an ankle. Thankfully, I only slid a few times and, as I recall, I gracefully would slide into a squatting position so I never actually got hurt.
We made it down the mountain in less than an hour and while everyone else was dry and cool from walking down the mountain, I was once again beat red and sweaty. What a workout.
When we reached the bottom we finally met our guide’s wife and children that he would mention here and there during our trek. I think he was in a rush to get back to his family. They came over and tried to sell us things, but the trekking cost robbed us dry and we still needed to go have a decent meal after that much physical activity.
Our drive back down the mountain wasn’t as terrifying due to the fact that it was down hill, so we just had to roll, and it was light outside.
Next post will be about our experience in Lombok, Gili Meno and Gili Air!
~M + H