Ubud, Bali. 2 AM.
Gunung Batur is Bali’s baby volcano. Standing 1,717m tall, it’s last eruption in 2000 renders this volcano still active, yet tourists continue to flock to hike it’s rocky terrain and witness the breathtaking sunrise from the summit.
With a good review from a recent hiker and photos to match, I booked a last minute tour to hike the volcano with 7 other guests from my hostel. We were picked up at 2.30 in the morning before being served a simple breakfast and then taken on the 1 hour journey to the base of the volcano. A quick toilet stop and brief later and we were on our way.
The beginning ascent can’t really be called an ascent; we walked through fields on a slope so shallow it hardly felt like there was one. The air was crisp and the sky was clear. With the milky way visible to the naked eye above us, we moved on to start the real hike. A clear path marked out the steep climb over bigger rocks and boulders with little vegetation surrounding. The climb took just over 2 hours and we arrived at the crater just in time to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen.
Picture this. You’re above the clouds – so thick there is no sight of the ground a kilometre below. Two other volcanos peak through the dense clouds in front of you and the sun slowly rises behind them. Warm orange and pink hues bounce of the clouds as the sky burns red. At your feet the course sand and leafy weeds glow golden and the ornaments on the temple in-front of you reflect the soft sunlight. The views were astonishing. Beautiful. Mesmerising. Words aren’t a sufficient medium to describe the beauty of this place.
After spending about half an hour watching the sun rise we continued onto the final push to the summit. Only about another 50m up, it wasn’t easy to reach. The ground was made up of nothing but sand, cruel with it’s grip and no easy feat to climb. Onwards I pushed, determined to summit my first volcano. And there I stood, 1,717m above the sea, higher than the clouds and on the summit of an active volcano in Bali. The feeling was surreal.
Continuing around the crater, we walked along a the narrow path and through lush green vegetation. With the clouds even thicker and whiter, the splendid views didn’t stop when the sun rose.
Our exploration of the many vents, caves and hidden gems this volcano kept giving us was over, and the decent began. A long, gruelling decent at that. But with a few slips and grazed knees, the volcano was behind us and we reached the bottom at around 10AM. Hows that for a mornings effort? It was only 10AM yet I’ve hiked up an active volcano, reached the summit and returned. ;p
Hiking Gunung Batur is definitely something everyone visiting Bali should consider. The hike isn’t strenuous and can be conquered by anyone willing to put in some effort, but the views from the top should be enough motivation for anyone to try it. At Rp.300,000 I did think the price was a bit steep for what was involved, but don’t attempt to climb this volcano without a guide. I’ve heard numerous stories from people who have and have consequently been harassed by the ‘mountain mafia’. Make the most of what you paid and ask your guide to take you on the crater ridge walk and down to the caves and temple.