Mt. Batur: hiking to meet the sunrise

I’m currently in Bali for the first time. Actually, perhaps weirdly given I’m from Australia, it is my first time in any part of South-East Asia!

My friend (Maggie, who has an excellent blog, which you should definitely check out here: http://www.theycallmemaggie.com/) suggested a somewhat spontaneous trip to Bali when Jetstar was having a good deal. I realised I’d not taken any time off since starting my new job a year ago so it sounded great!

Once decided and booked, we started browsing around for things to do while here, flicking through blogs, instagram, etc. Whilst we were both up for a relaxing holiday and a good break from work, neither of us is really the type to spend a whole week sitting by a pool, and while we wanted to do some of that we also wanted to do some more active things too.

When we came across the option of climbing Mt. Batur to see the sunrise it seemed like an obvious thing to do. A few years back I’d been living in Japan and had a chance to do the overnight clim of Mt. Fuji to see the sunrise there. Unfortunately when the sun came up the mountain was ensconced in a giant cloud and all that happened was the black night became an opaque grey (more on that to come in a flashback post soon). Anyway, I felt like climbing Mt. Batur would be exciting and fun, as well as a bit of a challenge and a chance to get my mountaintop sunrise experience (though I have plans to reattempt Fuji sometime!).

We booked in with a tour group and prepped for our trip.

The tour included pickup and drop-off to a bunch of hotels, with the driver scheduled to pick us up about 1.30am. We booked our tour for the first few of days as we were hoping that we wouldn’t have acclimatised to the time difference yet so could sleep early. It worked, mostly, but it was still a pretty early start nonetheless! The drive to Mt. Batur is fairly bumpy, as some of the roads have a lot of potholes, but I still dozed off on the way and caught a bit of extra sleep.

Arriving at the starting point there was the option of a quick bathroom trip (make sure to always have tissues or similar on hand), then our guides gave each of us a bottle of water and a torch (flashlight). I saw guides for other groups also handing out shoes – some would-be hikers had rocked up in thongs (flip flops/jandals?). Most tour websites specifically state you should wear comfortable walking shoes, and yes I suppose in certain circumstances thongs (again, flip flops) would be comfortable walking shoes but those circumstances are things like strolling along a beach not hiking up a mountain formed by volcanic rock and rubble!

The climb up was only a couple of hours. The first bit is fairly flat and more like bushwalking or hiking. There are a few small homes dotted along the edge of the path on the way and some poor rooster got super confused by our flashlights at 4pm (when we set out) and started crowing. Condolences to whoever lives with that rooster – there are climbs every night even during the slow season and the little guy probably starts crowing way before dawn every single time.

After the nice, flat-ish part came some fairly steep switchbacks. Our tour group split out pretty quickly, half of us went ahead with one of the two guides leading us, and the other hung back at a slower pace. I really appreciated the fact that they let us break up the group like this – it can be extra challenging when you’re forced to walk at a pace that is significantly different to your own (either too fast or too slow).

The first colours started to appear at just after 5am and they were incredible.

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The first colours on the climb, just after 5am

And they only got better…

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Sun rise starting behind Mt. Agung, with a little planet glowing on the far left

We’d apparently been a little late starting the hike (I think the van we were in struggled a little on some of the roads so went a tad slower than planned) so we had to really push ourselves. Honestly it would have been great to be at the summit a bit earlier so we could appreciate all these colours a bit more, but it was still excellent.

We got to the top at about 5.20 – sunrise in Bali is around 6 on regular ground level, but was earlier as we were so high up. Our guide left us to enjoy the sunrise while he went to make breakfast, which was included in the tour.

At this point, we basically just relaxed and watch some amazing colours and enjoyed the spectacular sight, so I feel like it makes sense to kind of let you now just enjoy those same images…

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Once the sun was properly up we had some breakfast – boiled banana sandwiches and boiled eggs – and after a few more photos (below) – we started the hike back down. This took an hour or so but was shorter than the way back up, and then we were back on the bus for a couple of hours. There was a stop along the way at a coffee plantation and we got back to the hotel in Seminyak at about 12.30-1pm.

If you’re up for a bit of an adventure, plus you like to do some more active things on your holidays then I’d definitely recommend this!

TIPS

Bali is obviously pretty warm all year round but remember that once you factor in elevation things can cool off pretty quickly. They don’t get properly cold but I do recommend bringing a sweater or jacket along for the climb. You’ll stay pretty warm while moving but if you’re sitting around at the top for a bit (which you almost certainly will, then a bit of a chill might set in.

Also make sure to bring some water (though the tour group provided us with an extra bottle before starting the hike), as well as sunglasses and sunscreen for the way back down (especially important if you’re super pasty like me). These things are important for pretty much every day in Bali, not sure for the hike. Other handy things include tissues or toilet paper and hand sanitiser. Mosquito repellant too is a good idea.

One thing we didn’t bring, that perhaps we should’ve brought, was some snacks. We ate a snack before leaving the hotel in the morning (approx 1am) and there is breakfast provided at the summit (approx 6am), but you’re doing a fair bit of exercise in between that and don’t arrive back to your hotel until 12.30-1pm.

 

OTHER INFO

We booked in with a Klook tour, there are a bunch of different tours available but the one we did is here: https://www.klook.com/activity/7797-mount-batur-sunrise-trekking-bali/.

 

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