This hike up Mount Batur was on my to do list before I reached Bali but it was booked a day in advance with one eye on the weather. You don’t want to book your hike too far in advance in case that day is deluge city and the hike becomes far less craic and far more about not snotting yourself on the side of a volcano, in the dark. Ya know what I mean! So my first tips are: Be flexible with your dates, Book when you arrive to ensure you get a good deal and Book a private tour so your group numbers are small. So now that you’re in Indonesia and you fancy a break from the yoga grab your hiking shoes and get climbing!
It was cloudy the morning I hiked but you didn’t notice because it was 2am and when you hike through the clouds in the dark, do you even care?
You may have noticed from a few of my previous posts that I continue to say ‘I am not a hiker’ and yet this is my, what, 3rd hiking related post?!. Despite the fact that I have done 4 hikes in the past year, I maintain my non hiker status.
This hike is advertised as moderately difficult. I would upgrade that to ‘most definitely’ moderately difficult. I was in a private tour group of 5 with an amazing human goat guide called Made. He really helped us out and encouraged us as we climbed and held hands when it got slippy and was an all round ledgepants. If you are lucky enough to get him as your guide, you’re in safe hands.
Mount Batur hikes are strictly with a guide, so no solo efforts allowed (mountain politics, I think). Pick up from accommodation in Ubud is at 2:30am and the distance is about 1hour and 15 mins drive. There are pick ups from Kuta and Denpasar as well as Seminyak I believe but the price for those would be a little higher since there is farther to drive.
The guides meet you and your driver in the carpark where there are toilets and a snack shop. It is early o’ clock when you arrive so enjoy wandering around like a bewildered sheep with the other early bird hikers.
Our driver fetched our guide and we were all given torches and started our hike about 3:15am. It takes about 2 hours to reach the summit and our group’s fitness levels were varied. Did I mention I’m not a hiker, neither were most of my group. Joggers, swimmers, cyclists, triathletes and hockey players, sure but not pro hikers. Just saying.
To start off it’s a beautiful sight as you reach a few hundred metres elevation and look back at the glowing trail of hiker’s torches coming up behind you. We hiked through the clouds and while the terrain is flatish and grassy at the start it gets rocky, steep, shaley and slippy towards the top. You need to clamber over rocks and watch your footing. Don’t think about coming back down just yet! I did no research about the terrain before hand and I think maybe I should have. I was lucky not to lose my footing and fall but the potential is there so doing this hike hungover or in flipflops is an absolute no! You do need to power on through the sweatiness and keep your eyes on the prize. There is a stop half way up and another stop a few hundred metres from the top with snacks and drinks. Our guide made sure to include plenty of stops for us whenever we needed them and arriving at the summit at 5:15 was plenty of time to stand about in the cold for sunrise at 6:00am!
There is the option to stop at a view point about 15 mins from the top if you feel you can’t go on. You will still get a good sunrise view but the toppity top is why you signed up for this, amirite?!, so dig deep and finish that last climb.
Woohoo, you’ve made it to the top and in one piece to boot. Celebrations all round. As you cool down, you really cool down as you wait for sunrise so reach into the backpack you brought and maybe put on some layers of warm clothes.
There are hot drinks to purchase at the top are about €2 and worth it so bring some cash with you. Check out my list below for what to bring with you.
The summit was above a layer of clouds and as the dawn broke the views of Agung mountain in the caldera is humbling. At 1717m you can see through the layer of clouds to the lake below and out to sea to further mountain ranges in the distance.
As the sun rose the summit filled up a little more with more newly arrived hikers and the sheer craziness of the hike dawns on you when you see the terrain you scampered over on the way up. There are sheer drops all around you so take care.
When you are ready to descend your guide will show you how to navigate the steep rocky path because at first coming back down seems crazy. Our guide, Made, was so concerned that we should take care and help make it down safely. Hurray! You are taken via a tarmac road once you reach the half way point so once you make it past the gritty, slippy shale you are home free.
If you want to give yourself a physical challenge I would most definitely urge you to sign up. It is a great way to start the day and the feeling of accomplishment after scaling 1717m at dawn activates all your #adventurebod instincts! We paid 450K IDR pp including pick up, guide and breakfast (which is about €28 pp) and most tours are about €30pp. Remember prices may vary if you are coming from further away.
What to bring:
- Decent hiking shoes or runners
- Bring a backpack for your camera and water (you will need both hands free to climb)
- Layer up. Wear wicking active gear. I hiked in running leggings and a running tank top and stuffed my hoodie back into my bag because the hike up is sweaty work but I wish I had brought another fleece.
- Bring a change of top, you will sweat buckets and once you get to the sumit it is cold.
- Bring a snack for the hike, hiking is hungry work. (the summit breakfast is two boiled eggs, fruit and white bread so if that isn’t your bag, come prepared)
Be aware that this is an active volcano and steam does rise from certain areas. Keep an eye on official websites in case the trail is closed due to eruptions or dangerous conditions so that your hiking experience isn’t ruined.