While looking into different “must-do’s” for Bali, I came across Cassie’s (Adventuress on the run) post about doing a hike to the top of Mount Batur to summit at sunrise. I reached out to a friend of mine who recently went there with his wife, and he had done the same hike. Both sources told me it was a great experience.
When we arrived in Bali, I hadn’t booked anything for the hike, but knew I needed to do it. After speaking to my Airbnb host he booked it all for us and we set our alarms for 1:30 am. At 2 a.m a minivan drove up in front of the property which already had four people in the back seats. A couple from England who now live in Australia and another couple on their honeymoon from the Philippines. No one spoke during the forty minute car ride to the climbing company’s coffee plantation. There, we groggily stumbled out of the van and into some benches at a table. Banana pancakes arrived and some coffee. We all finally made our introductions now that we had some sustenance in us! These couples were extremely nice people and over the course of the next few hours we had great conversations.
We squeeze back into the van and head to the base of Mount Batur. It’s surprisingly chilly this morning (3a.m), so I’m excited to get the blood pumping on the trek so I can warm up. Equipped with flashlights, we head out through flat dark trails. Slowly but surely, the incline begins to increase. Eventually we get to full on giant steps. It all reminded me so much of Machu Picchu. If you’ve ever hiked to the base of Half Dome in Yosemite, you know that last few bit with all the steps? The top half of this mountain was like that.
About halfway to the summit, there is a small alter. Here, all of the trek guides stop for a few minutes to pray for safe journeys. Balinese people take their religion and beliefs very seriously and Mount Batur is considered the most sacred mountain in Bali. A bit further up is another temple. It was just to the right of the trail, and unless you know it’s there, you will miss it! Our guide pointed it out to us luckily, but in the pitch black, I would have never even noticed it!
We summited Mount Batur around 5:45 a.m. Forty-five minutes before sunrise. The sky was just starting to lighten with the new day approaching. We set up some blankets and cameras and took it all in. While we relaxed, our trek guide worked to put together another meal for us, banana sandwiches and boiled eggs (yes – bananas are a staple in Indonesia diet. We had them constantly!). We also were offered hot tea, which I gladly accepted because I was now freezing because we were no longer hiking. Be aware tho: If you would like a cup of tea at the top of Mount Batur, it will cost you (about $2USD)!
The sunrise peaked off in the distance, the sky becoming fire red around it, to a soft pink across the entire sky. The views were spectacular. Everyone quieted their conversations as the sun came up and simply enjoyed the beauty. I mean, look at it!
After the sunrise, our trek guide wanted to show us around the area. He took us to an area where you can see the steam and feel the heat from the active volcano slipping thru the cracks in the Earth’s crust. Next we saw a cave, where there is actually an old temple deep in the cave. Unfortunately we were not allowed to go back there.
Lastly, the monkeys. If you follow my instagram, you probably saw the picture of my encounter with the monkeys. BUT, it took a few minutes for that smile to come on my face long enough for a picture. I had no food or anything to offer the monkeys at the summit of Mount Batur, yet one still jumped on my back. They’re not really gentle, FYI. This one smacked me in the face quite a few times before he calmed down. There’s several extremely embarrassing pictures of me with panic on my face that my mom was able to capture. Maybe one day I’ll share those with you all 😛
We took a different route to descend Mount Batur, one that was more sloping inclines than steep steps. The day was already getting warm, so if you are looking to do this hike on your visit to Bali, I highly recommend layers. The morning is quite chilly, especially when you summit because of the wind. We ended back in the parking lot we had started in a few hours before, piling back into the minivan. The hour ride home was quiet, as everyone was tired and ready for naps. We arrived back at our villa just north of Ubud just before 10a.m. – just in time for our third breakfast! 😛
Our guide was very knowledgeable, spoke English very well, fun and receptive to what people in our group needed in order to complete this hike. The hike is relatively easy and the tour companies give you plenty of time to climb in the morning so you are able to take breaks along the way. I promise, the summit at sunrise is well worth it!