I Did The Mount Batur Sunrise Trek (& Here’s What Happened)
Living in Bali has always made me have to choose between two surreal and beautiful experiences – a splendid sunrise and an alluring sunset. However, to my delight, I found that one can have them both in one spot – Mount Batur.
During the first semester of my residency in Ubud, I decided to do the Sunrise Volcano Trek on Mount Batur. So, one day, in the middle of the night, I gathered my new travel acquaintances in a minimarket at Ubud’s Peliatan Street. The four of us had recently met in a coffee shop, and decided to climb Mount Batur together.
As we arranged for our food and drink supplies, one of them bought eggs, shouting, “I’m going to make a special breakfast up there”. This made me wince, as none of us had carried a stove along.
We started riding our scooters by 2am through Tegalalang, with the destination being Kintamani. The route we took was a relatively straight line, so we had no concerns of getting lost. And it was okay even if we did, as getting lost in Bali meant new hidden gems discoveries!
Eventually, we did get lost when we arrived at Kintamani. Each one of us was staring at our Google Maps and arguing, as we had different versions of the starting point. My American friend even insisted that there must be a way to get to the top by scooter. He’s kidding, I thought.
After some back and forth through the streets, with arguments in the blackness, we found out that Mount Batur had two starting points: Pura Jati Luhur and Toya Bungkah. At both these points were guide association booths, offering packages starting at Rp 400.000 (US$ 28).
As an Indonesian, they let me (and my foreigner friends as they came with me) pass the gate leading to the climbing zone without a guide. We started hiking at around 3am from Pura Jati Luhur. The first half hour of the climb was fairly flat. But when we passed the first pelinggih (shrine), the trek became steeper and full of solid rocks. I regretted the hiking sandals I wore, as some pebbles—and I’m not sure what else—kept poking my feet.
After a series of shortness of breaths and unstoppable questions of ‘are we there yet’, we finally arrived at the top of the Mountain Batur at 5.15am, after climbing for two hours. But all our tiredness vanished by the time we embraced the serenity of sunrise in the clear sky, above Lake Batur. We saw the beauty of shades that we never knew could exist in nature. The changing colours of the sky during the first hour at the top of Batur was a calming therapy like no other.
I was secretly worried about my ability to climb Mount Batur, as I am more of a beach guy than a mountain guy. But apparently, if you are in a relatively good fitness condition, the climb is doable.
Meanwhile, while enjoying all the beauty surrounding us, my friend cooked the eggs and bananas in the volcano steaming hole! If I knew that this mountain provided an ‘organic stove’, I would have brought potatoes and mozzarella cheese along. And parmesan cheese. Lots of cheese!
While we enjoyed our fancy volcanic breakfast, I told my friends a Balinese folk story about a mythical giant named Kebo Iwa.
Kebo Iwa was a ruthless giant and always hungry. And when his hunger became unbearable, he rampaged the village. He ate whoever he saw and destroyed houses and temples. So, out of despair and fear, the villagers initiated a way to kill Kebo Iwa by making a fake promise: they would give him a large amount of food and ask Kebo Iwa to rebuild the houses and temples in return.
After a while, when the village was fully rebuilt, Kebo Iwa dug a deep well as a water supply for the villagers. As he dug deep inside the land, a mountain began to form.
One day, in the well, Kebo Iwa fell asleep on a full stomach. The villagers did the final act, their true intention: throwing the limestone and water into the well. Kebo Iwa suffocated and died from boiling water; an exothermic reaction as a result of the combination of water and limestone. Today, the well is now known as Lake Batur, while the enormous pile of ground, as high as 1,717 metres, beside the lake, is the spot that we climbed at that moment – Mount Batur.
That morning, as we all shared breakfast and stories while admiring the spectacular sunrise, we formed new bonds and friendship with each other.
5 Tour Operators To Book Your Mount Batur Trek
1. Bali Eco Cycling
This tour is suitable for those who’d like to cycle to the top. Bali Eco Cycling provides snacks and a hearty breakfast. Their package for Batur’s trek combines Mount Batur Sunrise & Swim with full-day Bali Eco Cycling Tour.
2. Bali Sunrise Tours
Their trip cost includes a driver and air-conditioned car or mini-bus, entrance fee to the Kintamani area, a guide per group of 4 people, flashlights, drinking water, and volcanic steam-boiled eggs.
3. Bali Jungle Trekking
They provide a private service with a flexible trip option, which allows you to make a stop at places after the trek at no additional cost, as long as it’s in the same direction as your hotel.
4. Kadek Bali Trekking
They have many tour package options for you to choose from and can arrange for pick-up from wherever you’re staying.
5. Mount Batur Sunrise Trekking
They provide a private driver, a car, and private hiking guide.
- You’re probably wondering if it’s safe to climb Mount Batur, considering Mount Agung’s eruption? The answer is yes. According to the latest info from Indonesia’s National Board of Disaster Management, there are no indications of increased volcanic activity, and Mount Batur remains at a safe level one. Besides, it is located north-west of Mount Agung, about 18.16 kilometres away.
- The entire walk can take 4-6 hours.
- Since Mount Batur is a sacred Hindu mountain, please respect local sensibilities — leave your shorts and tank tops at home.
- Keep an eye out for cheeky monkeys; they might take off with your belongings.
- Make sure you carry an LED flashlight, sunscreen, liniment (for muscle pain), antiseptic ointment, and bandages along.
- Also carry a windbreaker, hat, sunglasses, a spare T-shirt, raincoat, mineral water, and wet tissues. And, of course, bananas and eggs!
- Dress in layers, so you can adjust your clothes easily according to your body temperature. It’s usually cold and quite windy at the top, but it hot when the sun comes up and while you climb.
- Wear long pants to protect your legs from rocks and long fauna. Put on your hiking boots with ankle support.
To book the Mount Batur sunrise trek with Ithaka, go here.