Hiking Mt. Batur Posted by sasha on Apr 21, 2016 in Uncategorized
The island of Bali is much more than sandy beaches. While it’s true that sun and sand are the primary draw for most tourists here, the island is actually quite mountainous. Those seeking a bit of adventure on their trip to the Island of the Gods can partake in a variety of hikes, most notably those going to the peaks of Bali’s active volcanoes – Gunung Agung and Gunung Batur. Of the two, Mt. Batur is much more accessible and a much easier hike. Here’s a bit of background info about the mountain, as well as a travel report from a recent hike there:
An Introduction to Mt. Batur
Towering at 1,717 meters high, Mt. Batur lies within a large caldera in the Kintamani region of Bali. This was the result of what must have been a cataclysmic eruption thousands of years ago. The first recorded eruption happened back in 1804, with other major eruptions occurring in 1917, 1926, and 1963. Thanks to the frequent activity of Batur, many entire villages have had to relocate throughout the years. There are still many villages in the caldera, where the locals earn a living primarily off of agriculture and tourism. The lake, Danau Batur, is the largest lake on Bali. The area is also home to Bali’s 2nd most important temple – Pura Ulun Danu Batur. Dedicated to Dewi Danu – the goddess of lakes and rivers – much of it was destroyed in the 1926 eruption. The most important shrine managed to survive, and locals moved and rebuilt the temple at a higher location.
Hiking Mt. Batur
Independent travelers will certainly be disappointed to hear that it’s all but impossible to hike Batur on your own, even though it is a relatively simple and easy endeavor. This is because a local mafia – or “the company” as they like to refer to it as – has complete control of the hiking trail and access to it. Those who attempt making the hike on their own are sure to be bullied and harassed by these men who insist you pay them for their guiding services. Rather than deal with this, it’s much better to simply sign up for a hike there with a reputable travel agent. No matter where you’re staying in Bali, it’s easy to arrange a sunrise hike to Batur. After much research, we decided to go with Bali Eco Cycling on their sunrise and hot springs outing. For $50 USD per person, you get transportation to and from the mountain, snacks, drinking water, guides, use of a torch, breakfast on the mountain, entrance to the hot springs, and even a full lunch – not a bad deal!
After some fruit, cakes, and lots of coffee, we began our ascent just after 4AM. It takes about two hours to get up to the summit if you’re in decent shape and move at a fair speed. Those not keen on making the final push to the top have the option of taking in the views from a little shack that sells hot drinks and snacks.
Arriving at the top, we were greeted by a bunch of clouds obstructing the view along with chilly winds – the coldest I’ve been in Bali in over seven months on the island. Just when it seemed we wouldn’t get any good views at all, the winds picked up speed and moved the clouds just enough for us to catch a glimpse of the sun rising over neighboring Lombok and Mt. Rinjani.
As everyone sat down to enjoy their breakfast of toast, hardboiled eggs, and candy bars, a large group of crab-eating macaques – also commonly known as Balinese long-tailed monkeys – appeared in search of something tasty.
From there, we headed down to take in the views of the crater. Steam pouring out of the sides of the mountain reminded us just how active Batur remains. We also saw a small temple located inside a cave, and a bit more monkey business before heading down.
Many trips to Batur end here and return you to your hotel, but we continued on to soak in the hot springs on the lake shore. After waking up at 1 AM, spending a few hours in the car, and hiking all the way up and down the mountain, this was a very welcome addition to the day’s itinerary. We even got foot massages and lunch while there – talk about being pampered!
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one morning, our guide offered to make one more stop at a local coffee plantation. With gorgeous views off to the side, we all got a large sampling of teas and coffees, and many of our fellow hikers got to pick up some souvenirs to take home. Since we live in Bali, we tend to avoid tourist traps like these, but it was fun and the extra dose of sugar and caffeine was much needed.
All in all, we had a great time hiking Mt. Batur and can highly recommend doing the trip if you visit Bali. The hike isn’t too difficult, the views are spectacular, and you’ll be back at your hotel with half a day to hit the beach, do yoga, get a massage, or whatever your heart desires. We’ll have a video up next week, so check back to see more of this awesome hike.