As part of our New Year trip, my boyfriend and I decided to spend some time in Bali. I have been to Bali many, many times before but it was always just a short weekend trip either with family or a weekend of partying with some friends from Singapore. So I never got to properly explore Bali and appreciate the island of Gods until this year!
One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in Bali is to climb the two active volcanoes on the island – Mount Batur and Mount Agung. Mount Agung is out of the question at the moment since it erupted very recently, just a month before our trip. So we had to try Mount Batur instead.
What you should know about Mount Batur Sunrise Trek
Getting to Mount Batur
Mount Batur is easy to get to from anywhere in Bali. You just have to figure out your transportation to get there – it takes about 1.5 hours drive by car from Ubud, probably about 2-2.5 hours from Seminyak / Kuta. Because of this, although the trek seems doable without a guide, we booked one anyway as it includes transportation to and from our hotel. We booked ours through Voyagin from a company called Bali Sunrise Trekking & Tours, which cost US$38 per person during low season in January.
How difficult is the trek?
I’m not a super experienced climber – the only other climb I’ve done is Mount Rinjani in Lombok, which involved a physically taxing 2,000m elevation gain in one day. So compared to that I’d say the Mount Batur 700m elevation gain is relatively easy. It does get quite steep in some parts, but there was no point where I felt so tired that I couldn’t go on. It’s very doable for anyone with average fitness.
When is a good time to do the trek?
I’ve been told the best time to do the climb is during the dry season, which is April – September.
I honestly almost didn’t do this trek since we came to Bali during the supposedly rainy season in January, so I was worried the view from the summit would not be very good. However, once we got to Bali, we found that the rain was quite sparse (despite weather forecast saying it would thunderstorm every day) and the mornings are very clear, so we decided to try our luck and book the trek last minute. And as you can see from the photos below, the gamble paid off!
What should I bring to the trek?
- A hat – any simple snapback would do. This comes in handy during descent as the sun in Bali gets very strong even before 8am.
- Sunscreen – again, the sun in Bali gets very strong even in the early morning so you still have to protect your skin!
- Sunglasses – again, for sun protection.
- Shoes – Trekking shoes would be ideal since there would be some loose gravel nearing the summit, but I wore my regular Nike running shoes and was fine. I only fell once :P
- Insect Repellent – there are some pesky mosquitoes on the trail!
- Light windbreaker – It can get quite cold at the summit while you are waiting for sunrise. I used my Uniqlo Light Pocketable Parka. Here is a similar alternative by Columbia.
- Light snacks like a chocolate bar.
- A bottle of water – but you can also buy this on the summit or on the way down.
- Some cash to for coffee or to tip your guide – I gave Rp 50,000 for each of our guides. That’s less than $5. The coffee at the summit costs Rp 30,000 per cup.
And that’s all really! It’s a very short trek, so make sure you don’t overpack!
Mount Batur Trek Overview and Time Milestones
|02:00am||Pick up from our villa in Ubud|
|04:00am||Start trek from Bali Sunrise Villas (1,000m elevation)|
|04:30am||First break at a small warung|
|04:50am||Halfway point water break|
|05:17am||Third water break|
|05:35am||Summit (1,717m elevation)|
|07:55am||Start descending back down|
|08:35am||Arrive back at Bali Sunrise Villas|
|10:10am||Back at our villa in Ubud|
We went to bed at 9pm that day, knowing our car would be picking us up at the ungodly hour of 2am. The driver showed up very on time and we got to the car without any fuss and proceeded to pass out the entire way to the mountain. We got to Bali Sunrise Villas, the starting point of our trek, at around 3:40am.
We started the trek pitch black at 4am – our guide Made had given us some flashlights, and that was our only light source for a while. The first 50 minutes of the trek was quite easy – we were just walking on a clear trail with a little bit of incline. I was wearing my jacket at the start of the trail, but I quickly had to take it off because it got warm real quick with the walking.
The trail only started getting steeper and harder after the halfway point break – it’s basically like climbing stairs at this point, but everyone in our group was pretty fit so we kept on going. We took a total of three water breaks with no more than 5 minutes each break. We reached the summit at around 5:35am with no issues, which means it took us 1 hour 35 minutes to reach the top!
I should also note that because we climbed during the low season, there was almost nobody on the trail – so perhaps that’s why we were able to go up pretty fast. I heard during high season the trail is pretty much filled with humans which could slow you down.
After the sunrise, we continued on to explore the rest of the caldera. Mount Batur is still an active volcano, with the most recent eruption in 2000. Made informed us that during the 1968 eruption of Mount Batur, red lava flowed into the caldera and to this day the black lava field can still be seen from the summit.
During sunrise, we were also given boxed meals consisting of 2 soft-boiled eggs, banana sandwich, a piece of banana fruit and an orange. Made told us the eggs were cooked using the volcano steam itself! She then took us to the cliff where we can see the steam up close. It’s not super apparent in the photo below, but those are not fogs – the entire cliff (crater rim) was steaming!
We took turns blowing incense into the hole, which made the steam thicker, and sticking our hands into the steam hole – not for long though, cause it felt like sticking your hand on top of a boiling pot of water. To quote another girl who stuck hers too long: “Damn, it’s hot as shit!!”
After playing around on top of the summit for two hours, we started descending down. The descent took much faster (50 minutes) but it was still hard! Most of the terrain near the summit are loose gravel, so you have to be more confident each step and know where to go. I was following behind our guide Made very closely, so I pretty much just copied her steps. She also helped me by holding my hand on some parts of the trail where it gets too steep. I was wearing my regular Nike running shoes, and it gets pretty slippery sometimes – a few people in our group fell at least once, and I myself fell once on my butt while descending.
But the descent is quite beautiful, especially since we were blessed by good weather that morning. We got to stop by the temple, which Made explained to us is necessary according to the Balinese culture, since we need permission from the Gods to go up the mountain, to ensure our safety.
While descending the trail, you’ll also meet grey monkeys! Time to bust out some bananas you might have saved from your breakfast – the monkeys are not aggressive, but they will jump on you if they see you holding fruits.
Will I do this trek again? Hell yeah! This is what I would call a high ROI hiking – the hike was short and not that difficult but the view above is amazing. Mount Batur is right next to Mount Agung, so on a clear day you can see Mount Agung from the summit which makes for an amazing picture. And because you start so early, you’re basically done climbing a volcano by 9am.
The hardest part really is waking up at 2am though – it really messed up my internal clock. After we got back to our villa, the rest of the day was pretty much wasted on catching up on sleep before finally getting out to get some dinner at 6pm. I wouldn’t plan on doing anything strenuous the day after the climb.
Though I was crazy enough to book a canyoning trip the very next morning… but that’s another story for another post ;)