After previously living in Costa Rica and Hawaii, it’s safe to say I’ve done my fair share of volcano trekking and wasn’t particularly looking forward to adding more to the list, however exotic and beautiful it may be. It’s not that I don’t like volcanoes – on the contrary, actually – it’s just the uphill (upvolcano?) trekking part that makes me want to die a little inside. But when 7 friends from Maui fly all the way to Bali for the first time ever, and all want to see the sunrise at Mt. Batur followed by a much deserved dip in nearby volcanic hot springs, I’m not going to be the one to rain on anyone’s adventure parade.
So up we went.
Climbing Mount Batur: Bali Guide
- Who: Average to physically fit individuals looking for a memorable outdoor adventure and scenic sunrise experience on Bali.
- What: Hiking up the 1717 meter (5633 foot) Mt. Batur volcano
- When: Good anytime of year (though best in the dry season from May to September), but be aware that you’ll likely need to leave your hotel between 1:30am if staying in South Bali, and 3am if staying nearby, in order to reach the summit by sunrise.
- Where: Batur Village, Kintamani
- Why: The views are beautiful, and you don’t mind working to enjoy them. Also because it’s there, and why not!
- How: Arrange for a driver and guide(s) to take you and the other members of your group safely up and down the volcano.
First off, we heard mixed reports about whether hiring a guide was actually a requirement. For those who have previously done this hike, or consider themselves particularly experienced hikers, it might seem like a waste of money to hire guides when you could fairly easily follow the line of people and flashlights up the volcano yourself. In our opinion, however, especially if it’s your first time and want to avoid any hassling by local guides, it’s best to either a) join a guided tour (recommended for families and those who want more information about the local history, culture, landscape, etc.), or b) ask around for guides to take you and your group up separately or as part of a larger group (recommended for those simply looking to do the hike and enjoy the views without the added cost of a full-blown organized tour experience). Either way, it’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to insure your safety.
Since we had a group of 8, we hired Komang Rio as our driver to transport us from Ubud to Kintamani, who also arranged for 2 guides to take us up Mt. Batur. I’d highly recommend his services, as he’s extremely organized, friendly and let us fully customize our day around the island.
Since the idea is to make it to the top of Mt. Batur in time for sunrise, the first half of your hike will be in total darkness. The hike takes about 2 hours (depending on your level of fitness), and begins with a slight ascent up rocky land, followed by a much steeper ascent up even rockier land. While you don’t need to be in top shape to do this hike, it is not recommended for small children or elderly visitors.
Once at the top, you’re free to roam around and enjoy stunning views of Lake Batur, Mt. Agung, and on clear mornings, even Lombok’s Mt. Rinjani in the distance! Also monkeys, because there are lots of those as well. As part of your guide’s fee, a small breakfast of volcanic steamed eggs and bread will likely be prepared, and coffee and/or hot chocolate are available for purchase. Pro Tip: Don’t eat your breakfast near the monkeys unless you intend to share.
The hike is around 5km total, and is perhaps even more beautiful on the way down since the sky is light enough to see the lake and surrounding farm lands more closely. You’ll likely be done by around 8am depending on what time you leave the summit.
We recommend the following items:
- Clothing: Wear layers! While you’ll most likely sweat a bit during your hike to the top, the summit is fairly cold. Wear at least a couple lightweight layers and comfortable walking shoes.
- Items to Bring: Remember to pack plenty of water, and if you have one, bring a headlamp or small flashlight. While guides often have spare ones to hand out to the group, you’ll probably want one all to yourself for the dark hike up.
As part of the fee for our driver, we also arranged for a trip to the nearby Batur Natural Hot Spring, a gorgeous property that sits right on the lake and offers several hot spring pools to relax in after your hike. The entrance fee is 150,000 IDR per person, which includes a towel, welcome fruit juice and fried banana snack, as well as access to their changing rooms and a personal locker.
The water is warm, the views are incredible, and your muscles will thank you!
While I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this adventure, I’m very glad I did it. It’s a whole new experience in Bali, and worlds away from the hectic crowds and chaos of Seminyak and Kuta. If you’re looking for a semi-challenging outdoor adventure, Mount Batur awaits.
Terima kasih for reading, and a big thanks to my friends for making the journey 1,000% more fun!