Mount Batur, 1717 m above sea level, located in Kintamani, is one of the sacred mountains in Bali. The idea of watching the sunrise from the top of an active volcano lured me into signing up for the sunrise trek. I hadn’t researched how long it would take to reach the summit or the nature of the volcanic terrain.
I have experience hiking in the Norwegian mountains. Hence, I thought this would be an easy hike. Gosh, I was wrong and not prepared. I didn’t have proper hiking shoes or clothes. It was pitch dark, and only our torch lights illuminated the way up an active volcano. Our guide was an 18-year-old girl. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable, but she had a lot of energy, agility, and confidence that made me trust her. With a long way to go, we started a conversation.
Me — “How many times have you done this trek before?”
She — “I started leading this trek earlier this month. I have led around four to five groups before you.” We were still at the base of the mountain. It seemed in the dark as dense forests on both sides of a narrow path, but she went forward bravely.
Me — “Are you scared to go into the mountains in the dark?”
She — “No. There is nothing to be scared of. There are no wild animals here. I know the path well enough.” Her reply was comforting.
Our conversations continued about her family and her life in general. She told me that she had just completed school and decided to guide people to Mount Batur to earn extra money. She wanted to buy better shoes and a backpack when she had enough money. She had two sisters. After the trek, she would do household chores as her mother was sick and help her father on his onion farms.
I have found every Balinese I met to be very hard-working, warm-hearted, and welcoming.
One of the best parts of traveling for me is getting to know the locals, their culture, and their way of life. Their stories are always so inspiring and amusing.
The trek was exhausting, especially the last bit. Our guide was way faster than us and helped us a lot. On tough-to-cross parts, she went first and then pulled us forward. Quite commendable for a small girl! With her guidance, we managed to reach the top on time to enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
Although the trek was amazing, I wish I had known about a few things earlier.
Now I can proudly say, “Been there, done that.” and to make things easier for your next trek up Mount Batur, here are a few things that you need to know before the trekking:
1. How to book?
We had initially booked the sunrise trek through a tour company, but when we found out that we could sleep in 30 extra minutes if we went with our local driver, we took that option happily. Well, we still had to start early. We left our villa at Sanur at 2:30 am to reach the base camp by 4 am and then trek to reach the top by 6 am (Yes, you heard that right. I hated waking up so early, but in hindsight, it was worth the pain.)
We paid 750000 IDR per person for a local guide, torches, and transfers to and from our villa.
After reaching the base camp, we found out that we were not allowed to trek up Mount Batur all by ourselves. So, getting a local guide was a must. Most importantly, they are well-trained and are very helpful during the climb and the descent.
2. How difficult is the trek?
It’s a two-hour trek, and if you are more or less active with some cardio in your fitness regime, it wouldn’t be very tough for you. However, everyone’s body is different. So listen to it and take breaks when you need to. I found the trek a little tough on the way up as I was not in my best shape. The way down was much easier for me.
3. How to prepare?
While you might feel tempted to stay up until late and then trek up straight to Mount Batur to watch the sunrise, I would recommend not doing it. Not only is some parts of the trek very steep, but also this trek starts in the dark and would need some extra focus on those torch-lit paths. You don’t need any specific training for trekking, but it is most enjoyable when well-rested.
4. What to wear?
The trekking trail is very dusty and filled with slippery volcanic rocks. You don’t want to trek in your new, shiny shoes. Also, some parts are steep. So a decent pair of walking/hiking shoes with a good grip will take you a long way.
Bali is so hot during the day that I couldn’t imagine that the temperature would go so low. Even though it was a warm climb, it was cold and windy once we reached the top. Thankfully locals gave out warm jackets to rent at the basecamp. It was a lifesaver at the summit. So carry a sweater or hoodie and dress in layers. For the wet season, bring a waterproof jacket if you get rained on. To avoid scratches, wear something that covers your legs.
5. What to bring with you?
Carry a small rucksack with water, a camera, and something to munch on if you anticipate feeling hungry on the way.
Once at the top, take your time and bask in the beautiful sunrise.
The sun was just about to rise when we reached the top. We saw the sky change its color from black to inky blue to pink to orange and then enjoyed the sun playing a peek-a-boo with us among the clouds. It was an unforgettable sunrise. A sense of gratitude filled me to watch the beautiful sunrise, the distant Mount Agung, and Lake Batur in one frame.
Here you can also savor a hot beverage, banana sandwich, or eggs cooked in volcanic steam — A unique experience!
Across the valley is another active volcano — Mount Agung is higher than Mount Batur. It’s the most sacred mountain. At 3031 meters, it is the highest point in Bali. While the most recent eruption from Mount Batur was in 2000, Mount Agung had its last one in 2019 (at the time of writing this article) and still emits smoke and ash occasionally. There is a similar sunrise trek to Mount Agung and can take between 4–8 hours, depending on the route. It is best suited for physically fit hikers.
The view on our way down was spectacular as well. We did not realize how far we had climbed in the dark. On the way down, we could also see the lava field formed from the 1968 eruption.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. Above all, remember to hang in there and enjoy the experience. Even though you might feel tempted to watch the sunrise from a midway point, keep moving forward. It’s worth the effort. Your reward is a beautiful sunrise.
Have you seen beautiful sunrises? Where did you last see it? I would love to hear more about it.