What do you think of when someone mentions Bali to you? Beach, blue skies, water sports, night life? But Bali has got other things to offer. To satisfy our nature craving, we decided to do a hike up Mt Batur, one of three active volcanoes in Bali and catch the beautiful sun rise. Here’s what you need to know about hiking up Mt Batur in Bali, Indonesia.
There are three ways to get to the base of Mt Batur. Either join a hiking tour group, hire a private driver or rent a car. We were contemplating with joining a hiking group or hiring a private driver to bring us. But we managed to find a very nice driver to drive us to Mt Batur at 1.30am and he arranged a local guide for us. You can find him at this FB link. We strongly recommend him for his excellent and sincere service.
Arriving at the base camp, you will be greeted with a platoon of local guides, waiting to approach you. If you hired a driver like us, he will helped to register and make the necessary payment for the guide. Otherwise, approach any guide and strike a bargain (Approx 20USD per person).
I would strongly suggest hiring a local guide and they will highlight to you the dos and don’ts during the hike, especially when it comes to the supernatural. Our guide told us to wait at a particular spot while she went to pray for safety when hiking up and down. If you’re uncomfortable with it, just step aside and let your guide do what they need to do.
What time to be at Mt Batur?
3am.We traveled 1.5 hrs from Nusa Dua to the car park of Mt Batur. Starting at 3am, we took 2.5 hours to hike up Mt Batur, having occasional breaks in between to catch our breath. We reached the summit at 5.30am and there were throngs of people already at the summit getting ready to catch the first glimpse of sun rise.
So if you are planning to get a good spot to snap nice pictures of the sun rise, I would suggest you start your day earlier. And, depending on your speed, if you are an awesome hiker, the hike should take you about 1.5 hours. So do consider your health status and time yourselves so that you get to catch your breath and at the same time get a good spot to catch the lovely sun rise.
What to bring and wear?
As we ascended up, there were strong winds and it was starting to get cold. So bring along your trusty windbreaker and gloves. The peak can get rather chilly and since you will be at the peak for a few hours before the sun rises, best to have warm clothing with you and wrap up. Strongly encouraged to wear long pants and good trekking/hiking shoes too. As you head higher, the path is filled with volcanic rocks which can get rather sharp. Extra protection is always better.
Oh yes, bring along a torch light or headlamp and make sure to pack in extra batteries. The route up is pitch dark and slippery with all the dew, so having light with you is an added advantage. Don’t forget to bring along your hiking stick too. Having an additional support is always better, considering that the route is rocky and uneven. Pack light, have a bottle of water and money with you. Along the way up, there are peddlers selling energy bars and snacks. So if you are hungry on the way up, stop and have a break.
Don’t forget to pack your camera too!!
I would separate the hike into 3 difficulty levels. The first part of the hike starts from the car park to a temple. This route is filled with plantations on both sides of the trail, so the path is generally flat and easy to walk. Most people would rush past you at this part. Don’t get too anxious, slow and steady is key. The elevation is rather gradual at this point. As and when you need a break to catch your breath, let your guide know.
The second part starts from the temple to the observatory point. At the point of hiking, the temple was still under construction. Our guide told us it was one of the biggest temples in the Mt Batur area. There is a peddler selling drinks, snacks and energy bars at the side (see picture below). You might want to take a short break here and recharge for the second part of the hike which is steeper and more challenging. Note: items sold were slightly overpriced. It was dark and we were feeling exhausted, so we did not pay much attention to the surroundings of the trail, but was more concerned with getting our foot in the right place.
At the observatory point, we quickly found a spot in a hut and rested. There is no toilet in this area so if nature calls, you would have to answer it in the wild. =) We ordered instant noodles and a breakfast set consisting of 2 eggs and 4 slices of bread. You can get your guide to help you order food.
Tips on catching sun rise
The moment the sun rises, the atmosphere felt a sudden change and the clouds started to sink, revealing the beautiful landscape before us. At this point, everyone rushed out of the hut and tried to take a picture of the sun rise. We were one of those people too. Haha. Unfortunately, it was a foggyday so our photos did not turn out as nice.
For the more adventurous ones, you might want to hike up to the second observatory point, which is a steep and sandy trail. There would be lesser people there. As much as it is exciting to hike up to to higher point to view a nicer sun rise, listen to your body and do not over exert yourself.
What to see at the peak
After the sun rises, I would suggest you walk around the crater and marvel at the depth of the crater. Take a mandatory photo with the sign board too!
We were in awe of the scenery as we headed down the volcano, overlooking lake Batur. The route down is slippery, so watch your step. I got myself a deep cut when I slipped. So gloves would come in handy here. The descend down took us a longer time because everyone was taking their time to watch their step. No hurries here.
We took the same path down as the one we went up earlier in the day. From the temple onward, there is an easy road down to the car park. As you walk down, turn back once in a while and marvel at the majestic volcano you just conquered.
Hiking up Mt Batur is a worthwhile experience.Waking up at wee hours of the morning and challenging yourself to reach the peak before sun rise was a new experience for both of us. Watching the sun rise and feeling first light on your face is something words cannot describe. Looking back at the path we took in the dark, showed how far we had walked. Just like in life, sometimes we go through dark periods but once we have seen the light, we appreciate the journey.
Like the rest of Bali, Mt Batur is just as touristy, but think of it as helping the local community flourish. If you’re looking for a different kind of adventure in Bali, then make this hike part of your itinerary.