In an unusual twist, hiking up Mount Batur was all Monique’s idea. She found it on our Airbnb app after we had booked our accommodation in Ubud, Bali, and asked if I would be interested. The more strenuous adventures are often my idea and start with the line, “I’m sure we can just walk there!”, so I jumped at the idea to hike up an active volcano.
From the photos Mount Batur looked like a fantastic adventure. We wanted see some more of the natural wonders of Bali and it lived up to everything we could have hoped for. But it was one tough hike!We used the Magical Sunrise Trekking @ Mount Batur, suggested by Airbnb. We had a great time with the tour group. The guide was helpful and caring. Always ready to give a hand up the steeper and rockier parts of the trail and very aware of how the whole group was managing. It cost roughly $40 each for the whole experience.
There are loads of tour options though and your homestay, hostel or hotel may even have special tour deals. We missed out on some free breakfasts because we had booked in advance and not through our homestay!
Some facts about Mount Batur
Mount Batur is one of the many active volcanoes in the Ring of Fire and the last time it erupted was in 2000. The first documented eruption was in 1804. The volcano lies to the North West of Mount Agung.
On the South East side is Lake Batur with many small villages on the banks of the lake. One of these villages, Trunyan, is also a popular location to visit because of their unconventional burial practices!
Mount Batur is 1717m high and the hike is about a 5km round trip.
Hiking up Mount Batur
Any sunrise hike has to start horrendously early. Thankfully Ubud is one of the closest pick up points for the hike, but we still needed to meet our driver at 2am! We were on tour with 4 other people who were in various states of wakefulness in our transport.
The drive to the start of the hike is about an hour. We stopped along the way to get some coffee and pancakes. It seems like this is a pretty standard part of the hike as there were numerous tour groups at the restaurant with us and we were lucky to get a table.
The start of the hike was swarming with cars and other hiking groups. I had hoped that the early morning would deter most tourists but it was packed. We were hiking up the trail with a constant stream of fellow hikers. One plus was that it was quite amusing to watch the stream of torch lights weaving their way up the side of the volcano!
What to expect from the hike
The beginning of the hike is pretty easy. It is a gentle slope and the guides don’t push too fast. After the halfway point is when the hike starts getting properly steep. What makes the hike difficult is that you’re either walking on slippery sand or tiny rocks that roll under your feet. Most of the way you can’t get a proper footing and that really wears you down.
It was a day before full moon when we did the hike so we had the beautiful globe hanging in the sky the whole way up Mount Batur. When you reach the top there are various benches and places to sit. Despite the crowds coming up the mountain there was ample space to relax and our view of the sunrise was not blocked.
Waiting for the sunrise
Our guide then went off to make us some breakfast which consisted of a boiled egg and a banana sandwich. If you’d like something more there are lots of people wandering around that you can buy drinks and extra snacks from.
When we reached the top of Mount Batur the sky had just started to get lighter but it was still a while before the actual sunrise which came at about 6:30am. We were really lucky because the day before it had been completely overcast and the sunrise wasn’t visible!
As the sun peaked over a thin line of clouds there were shouts and cheers. The view was amazing! As the scenery slowly fades in from the darkness you can get a full appreciation of where you are sitting. Wisps of mist hung around several other mountains. It was everything we had hoped to see and more.
Back down we go!
After the sunrise we headed back down. There is nothing to do at the summit of Mount Batur except eat some breakfast. Be warned that there are no toilets on the mountain so make a visit when you start the hike!
Hiking back down was possibly the most unpleasant part of the experience. Suddenly you can see all the dust you’re kicking up, you’re tired from the early morning and with the sun up it gets hot fast!
That being said, the whole way down we had a stunning view of Bali. There was a thick fog hanging over Lake Batur which caught the sunlight just right and everything just kept getting more picturesque as the day got brighter. I wanted to stop every 2 steps to take another photo.
At the bottom
By the time we reached the bottom we were thoroughly exhausted and dying for a shower! We were taken down a different path to how we went up the volcano. Luckily our driver was well prepared and we didn’t need to wait to get picked up.
Mount Batur is not an easy hike but you only need a moderate level of fitness to make it to the top. Monique and I managed fine with only a minimal amount of grumbling. It took us about 2.5-3 hours to get to the top.
What to bring
- A torch is essential. If you forget the guides do bring spare but in the morning it is pitch black. With so many loose stones and rocks you need to see what you are stepping on!
- Good shoes. Try wear something that doesn’t let dust in. The volcanic dust is really fine but it gets very gritty in your shoes. We were wearing aqua shoes which did a great job of keeping the dust out but you felt every rock!
- Water is also very necessary. With all the dust and the heat coming back down you will want lots of water. You can buy drinks at the summit but having your own water will help.
- Bring a light jersey. Bali is warm but early in the morning before you start hiking and when you’re sitting around waiting for the sun to rise it can get a little chilly!
Another great volcano hike that you can do in Bali is up Mount Agung. This is Bali’s main volcano and very much part of Balinese religion. Mount Agung is considered a replica of Mt. Meru, the central axis of the universe.
Unfortunately the volcano erupted in 2017 causing a serious problem with air traffic. This eruption has continued into 2018 which meant that there was a 6km safety zone around the volcano and it wasn’t open to hikers.
Just before our vacation we had a stressful moment when we heard that Mount Agung had started smoking seriously again. There was a good chance that our flights to Bali could have been cancelled so we were worried to say the least. Luckily it had cleared up enough to not be a problem!
Final thoughts on the Mount Batur Hike
If you’re looking for something to do in Bali I’d recommend booking a hike up Mount Batur. Even though it is hugely popular and the crowds can get frustrating the scenery is beautiful. You can also claim that you have hiked up an active volcano which I think is pretty cool!
Be aware that your experience is entirely weather dependent. We were lucky to have clear skies so we could enjoy the sunrise. Many reviews we read before going complained about overcast skies and there is nothing you can do. Don’t let the potential for a disappointment stop you though!
If you’re into adventurous activities also check out our post on Scuba diving in Bali. We completed our Advanced Open Water Diver course with Adventure Scuba Diving Bali and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Safe travels and blue skies!
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