I didn’t want to climb a volcano. One of my biggest fears is to be burnt alive by lava. I didn’t know what to expect when climbing Gunung Batur, I just knew I was apprehensive.
Ever since watching “Volcano” with Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones, I have visions of slowly burning alive. The way that guy from Fargo did during the scene in the subway. Yikes!
But climbing Bali’s Gunung Batur was nothing like the scary movie scenes of Volcanic eruptions. It is a beautiful hike with incredible scenery.
Climbing Mount Batur, Bali’s Volcano
We had come to Bali for many things and climbing Gunung Batur was at the top of our list! So I wasn’t about to admit that I was chickening out.
About Gunung Batur
Gunung Batur is an active volcano in Bali. but you won’t see any lava fields flowing by as you walk up the trail. And you won’t have to worry or fear that you may tumble into molten lava.
I really should have done my research before we climbed and I would have known this.
I would have been much happier the night before and I would have had a much better night’s sleep.
Instead, I lay awake all night fretting and waiting for our 2:00 am wake up call.
Gunung Batur is an Active Volcano
Gunung Batur (Mount Batur) is only 1700 meters high, but it is one of the most popular things to do in Bali.
It’s a pretty easy distance but it is a tough climb up that will get the lungs burning.
We booked our tour from Ubud, but you can also climb Mount Batur from Kuta as well.
Gunung Batur is only a 1 1/2 hour drive from Kuta or 1 hour drive from Ubud and is located in the Kintamani Highlands.
The Kintamani Highlands are located in Bali’s northeast offering fantastic early morning views.
Book your own Hike up mount Batur – Pack your sunglasses, camera and hiking shoes as you take in panoramic views from the summit of Mount Batur. This 10-hour tour includes transfers, a stop at a coffee plantation, breakfast, and a local guide.
Moderate fitness level is expected.
Early Morning Start
It seemed that I had just finally closed my eyes when our driver Anung, met us at our bungalow in Ubud for the early morning drive to Mount Batur.
He lifted my spirits with his warm smile and hot breakfasts in hand.
We hopped in the back seat of his shiny SUV and we drove in luxury eating our hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit before our rugged trek.
We stopped to get our permits to trek up this active volcano and then with a quick introduction to our guide Nyoman we were off by 4:00 am.
Armed with our boxed lunches we were trekking this mountain in the dark. We had no idea where we were going, and could only imagine the scenery at this point.
The Trek up Mount Batur Volcano
Our guide Nyoman set a fast pace and there was little talking as we hiked in the dark.
I didn’t enjoy myself at first as I still didn’t know what to expect. I had never seen a volcano before this climb, let alone climb on one.
We stopped to catch our breath and I was surprised just how much I was huffing and puffing.
Climbing a volcano is quite tiring as the black rock is loose and the slope is steep.
We had just climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo a few weeks earlier so I thought I would be a breeze after that, but I was breathing heavily all the way up.
Sunrise over the Volcano of Rinjani on Lombok Island
Even though I was tired, the climb went fast. It only took about two hours to get to the top.
We made it to the lookout with more than enough time to catch the sunrise.
We found a pleasant spot in a shelter with benches to sit on.
There were quite a few of us lined up side by side waiting for the sun to come up.
It’s a popular spot, especially since it was named a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2015.
As soon as the sun crested the horizon we were all armed and ready with our cameras and videos.
Sunrise at Gunung Batur
The sunrise was spectacular.
We were on the top of Bali and the sky was ablaze as the sun rose over Lombok, Indonesia, and Gunung Rinjani.
It was a slow rise and we had more than enough footage.
By the time it was actually daylight we were frozen wrapped in our skimpy sarongs.
The climb was a sweaty one and to sit for an hour waiting in the cool and damp darkness took its toll.
- Tip: Pack a sweater and hat for while you wait for sunrise. Bali is tropical, but it’s chilly waiting for the sun.
The warmth of that sunrise couldn’t have come too soon and now that all of my fears had subsided, I couldn’t wait to move on to see the volcanic crater of Gunung Batur.
Exploring the Crater
We climbed on after sunrise to the rim of the newest volcanic eruption in 2000.
Our first stop was a deep hole in a cave where we watched a lot of volcanic steam rise from the depths of the earth.
Animals Were Sacrificed to the Volcano
Steam was everywhere and Nyoman told us that yearly sacrifices were held each year by the local villagers to appease the volcano Gods.
Live water buffalo, goats and chickens were ceremoniously dropped to their deaths. This was done to stave off another eruption.
I just felt bad for the animals and I imagined the sight of the poor buffalo being hoisted by rope and pulley over the deep crater.
The last major eruption on Batur was in 2000 when the mountain let us ash reaching 300 meters into the air.
Cooking an Egg in Gunung Batur
After cooking an egg in a steaming hole, yes it is that hot that one can boil an egg, we went on to view the old lava flows and more smoking cones of sulphur.
You could feel the heat all around you and steam rose from everywhere.
Will another eruption occur at Gunung Batur?
Vulcanologists are expecting Gunung III to go next and although they monitor regularly, you just never know when it will erupt.
All around you could see rocks that had been thrown into the air from the angry depths of the earth.
There is potential for some serious injury if you happen to find yourself standing next to a spot that is ready to blow.
They left behind holes with gas spewing from within and I imagined being right there when it happened.
Life at a Volcano
I was amazed to think that people can comfortably build homes and businesses at the base of this still active volcano.
Earthquakes occur more frequently and there is a lot of activity.
It could erupt at any moment, but villagers go on with their daily lives.
The Crater Rim Trek
We trekked through the morning on trails hugging the edge of the crater.
The landscape changed drastically as we walked from black loose sand from the most recent eruption to lush green grass on the older craters.
We witnessed the strength of Mother Nature, she can rebuild and thrive even after a disaster.
Years later, the soil near a volcano is filled with nutrients.
It ended up being a beautiful day. I walked and talked with Nyoman as Dave stopped regularly for photographs.
I learned about village life and history as Dave absorbed the surroundings and nature.
What the Batur Hike is Really Like
I am very glad to have sucked it up and climbed Gunung Batur.
It wasn’t the big bad scary lava flowing experience that I was expecting. It was an invigorating climb with spectacular views.
Once we reached the lookout, the day consisted of a leisurely trek from mountain to mountain and along craters.
We were at the bottom by early afternoon with not a care in the world.
At first he was quiet and probably didn’t know what to expect from us, but as the day went on we talked openly and frequently.
We talked about family and friends and life in Bali.
We enjoyed his company but knew full well that we would never see him again. And it ended with a wave goodbye as we caught our air-conditioned van back to Ubud.
That is what is odd about travel, you bond with people and learn all about their lives. You share intimate details and then never see one another again.
Tips for Trekking Gunung Batur
- Bring something warm to keep yourself warm while waiting for sunrise.
- Book your trek in Ubud it is cheaper and always remember to haggle on the price.
- Drink lots of Water.
- Wear good hiking shoes, this isn’t a walk in the park.
- Pack sunscreen as you are above the clouds and the sun in harsh.
- Tip your guide. They work hard and make most of their money from your tips.
Book your sunrise Mount Batur Hike – Climb above the clouds to Mount Batur’s Summit with a local guide. Take in the views of Lombok and the natural landscape. Perks include Breakfast, tea, coffee, transfers and a visit to a a local coffee plantation. (free cancellation with 24 ours notice)
25 thoughts on “Climbing Gunung Batur, Bali’s Volcano”
What a great adventure, Deb! I can understand your feelings of apprehension about volcanoes. I’m a lava tour guide in Hawai’i. I think a lot of people’s fears have come to us courtesy of Hollywood and (my personal favorite) cartoons. bali trekking guides
Nice blog! I just trekked mt batur today (it was amazing!) and now I’m thinking about mt kinabalu in Borneo. Have you climbed it and would you say there is a big difference at how fit you should be to make the different climbs? Aka, is it A LOT harder to climb kinabalu?
HI Caroline, congratulations on Gunung Batur. We have climbed Kinabalu and they are quite different. Kinabalu is harder, but it’s definitely doable. It takes two days, it’s quite steep at the top and it is in altitude so you really do feel the effects becuase it’s what I call a bounce climb. You climb up quickly the first day, sleep at altitude and then go 4095 metres. The steps up on day one are very steep and you will feel it for a few days, but it’s worth it! It’s beautiful.https://theplanetd.com/mount-kinabalu-2-tough-days-in-borneo/
Those are some nice shots from the mountain. Can you elaborate how does the climbing experience compared to Mount Kinabalu? How long did it take you to the top?
Gunung Batur is very nice place, please come to Lombok too okay thanks bro.
Stunning your post. A memorable experience, thank you for going to Bali.
How much should we tip?
Coming from North America, we’re large tippers. We usually tip between 10%-20% of the cost of the tour. Gungung Batur is only a 1 day climb and guides make their money from tipping, so the percentage is always the best way to go in our opinion. Hope this helps!
That trek looks amazing. We climbed Pacaya in Guatemala a number of years ago, and, like you, I was nervous leading up to the climb, imagining that it would be easy to fall into the volcano. Pacaya does have flowing lava at the top (it looks like this one didn’t?), but it was no where near as perilous as I imagined.
That’s exactly how I felt! I love that you thought the same thing. I was all like “I don’t want to fall in and burn to death 🙂
Great blog, I love to read it very much. Bali has a lot of hiking trails that always missed by Bali Visitors. Beside Mount Batur, Bali has Caldera Batur, Tjampuhan Ridge , Jatiluwih for the most scenic rice field in Bali also known as UNESCO site.
You are so right, there are many mountains to hike in Bali. We have to go back!
A memorable experience, thank you for visiting Bali.
Your writing is so great. Very usefull information for us. And you take some very nice pitures to describe the condition very well.
I just spent the last 2 months in Bali and it was truly a life changing experience 🙂 The people, the culture, the natural beauty… I fell in love with it all!
We were chaised by guides there and they were the only unpleasant part of our trip to Bali. It is not about practically giving them money for living. The problem was that they asked for ridiculous amount 900 000 Rp. Upsetting was not the amount itself but the fact that wood carver in Ubud makes in whole day 25 000 Rp and those guys wanted 900 000 for a few hours of walk. So we went around the volcano stopping on its north side leaving our car parked next to small store and climbed by ourselves. Navigation to the top was super easy so why one needs the giude for anyway?
hi thank’s from Bali ..for your post.
truly impressive – well worth a visit if you are in Bali.
.-= tempo dulu´s last blog ..Gunung Agung and Gunung Batur as seen from the Space Shuttle!! =-.
did you organise your guide from a tour company in Ubud? how much did you pay? where did you get your guide from?
Amazing view!! Well, kudo to you for facing your fear and did it.
.-= Amy @ The Q Family´s last blog ..Hiking up Chimney Rock with Kids Rocks! =-.
It was a silly fear after I did it. I had it all built up to being like the lava fields in Hawaii. I was thinking that one false move and we would fall in. And then it ended up being a nice hike up a hill:)
What a great adventure, Deb! I can understand your feelings of apprehension about volcanoes. I’m a lava tour guide in Hawai’i. I think a lot of people’s fears have come to us courtesy of Hollywood and (my personal favorite) cartoons. Still, there are very real hazards associated with any active volcano so its important to go with an experienced guide.
Come visit us next time you’re in Hawai’i. ~ Aloha, Malia
Well said, I think that climbing with a guide is very important. If you don’t know the terrain, it’s best to have an expert with you. I felt much better once we started the climb and realized that most of my fears were unfounded.
Amazing story, Dave and Deb! You really carried an egg all the way up there?
.-= Alan´s last blog ..2009 Quarter 3 Update =-.
The guides carried the egg. Not us. It was funny, because they were annoyed with all of the tourists opening the hole to look in because they were trying to cook their breakfast and we wanted to see and egg being boiled. The things that we find fascinating eh?