Getting to Mount Batur
Sort of a touchy subject for us… but it's really not that bad!! Unlike most other backpackers, we were staying with family on the very north shore of Bali. As such, we had to take a very remote, very windy, very dangerous road through the mountains in the dark. We planned to leave a bit earlier than we need in order to account for rural driving conditions, so we left for the mountain at 1:30am. Long story short, we were rescued from a treacherous situation by some local guides who were actually on their way to Mount Batur. We trustingly followed them to the base of the mountain (which we never would’ve found on our own), and promptly requested our new friend Jordan to be our guide.
Important note: if you’re traveling from Ubud, Seminyak, or anywhere on the central/south part of the island, you will not have this much trouble getting there. You can also probably book a tour that includes your transport. We just had to drive ourselves and were coming from the less traveled side of the mountains.
If you have a car, you can actually drive the first third of the “hike” to a farther up parking lot. It cuts out about an hour, and doesn’t change your experience at all. Otherwise, park yo mopeds at the bottom and get walkin’.
Hiring a Guide
You don’t have to hire a guide, but keep this in mind - it’s dark, the trails aren’t always that clear, and if there was a heavy rain recently, the trails will be super washed out and unstable. The guides have hiked Mount Batur literally hundreds of times. They’re there every morning with enthusiasm, and bring lots of eager tourists to the top with a smile on their face. It’s their job, and their main source of income. Support the local tourism industry and hire a cheery guide! Otherwise, you’ll be heckled the whole way up anyway.
Climbing Mount Batur
It’s definitely not the Long Trail in Vermont. Expect unclear paths with multiple ways up, very loose, gravely ground, and very steep switchbacks all the way to the top. After about an hour and a half, you get to a little hut with a bench and some nice viewing platforms to watch the sunrise. There’s still another 20-30 minutes to the summit, but this is a great place to watch the magic unfold if you don’t feel compelled to continue the steep climb, or you just won’t make it in time.
Sunrise at the Summit
If you continue through the final push, you’ll be welcomed onto the the small summit with smiles from a bunch of other people who beat you up there. Given that we left unreasonably early, we were the first ones up there at 4:30am. The next folks showed up just before 5am, and then it started to get crowded around 5:30. If you’re waiting for a while, you can grab a hot drink from the hut at the very top. If you come with a tour, it will probably include a hot drink and breakfast (a hard-boiled egg and a piece of toast) at the top.
It takes a long time for the sun to rise, but even from the very beginning of the orange streaks behind Lombok in the distance, it’s an unreal landscape to take in. If the lighting is right, you can even see the smoke coming out of the active volcano of Mount Agung across Lake Batur.
Snap as many pictures as you can - you’ll only want to do this once. Anyone on the summit will be happy to take some for you, so have a go at all your jumping, laughing, hand-standing, or straight-cheesin shots. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll even witness a heart-jerking proposal like we did!
On the way down, be sure to grab a pic of the cheeky monkeys hanging around. They’re cute, but be careful because they will try to snatch your snacks and shiny things!