This was a day I had been REALLY looking forward to during my month long stay in Bali. It’s been about a week here already and I’m so glad I decided to go for the sunrise trek at Mount Batur – which is an active volcano located between 2 craters north of Mount Agung (much larger) in Bali. This is also the first ever active volcano that I have climbed! I’m addicted to the large amount of ‘firsts’ that I’ve been encountering these past few months – first time bungee jumping, first time white water rafting, first time in Rishikesh, first time in Bali, first sunrise trek, first volcano – feels SO good. These are truly wise words – ‘Collect experiences not things’, no idea who said it but that person was onto something.
Back to Mt. Batur, we were staying in Seminyak at the time so we woke up at 1am, were picked up at 1:30am and reached a sort of a collection point at about 2:30am. We booked our entire experience straight off Tripadvisor, which went through viator and finally the actual agency handling our experience was Pineh Colada Bali (don’t ask me about the name, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to hear any explanations involving any cocktails at 2 in the morning after just 3 hours of sleep.
We reached the Pineh Colada rendezvous point where everybody who had booked through them was to arrive. We were given Balinese coffee to wake us up (it worked really well) and banana pancakes. I noticed a strong undercurrent of bananas throughout this experience (more about that later). After finishing the pancakes, we were given complimentary bottles of water to carry during the trek (they discourage locals selling eatables and drinkables on the volcano to avoid trash). We drove off from there and arrived at the base of Mt. Batur at about 3:00am
From there we were formed into groups of 4 with a local guide(mandatory, price included in the package). Everyone was given a flashlight which begins to fade towards the very end of the climb (it’s all very precise). And off we go!
At this point I do want to point out that there are SO MANY people here, in the dead of night, all carrying flashlights, walking in a single file that I felt like prisoners being illegally smuggled across borders. And yes there are, at many points, traffic jams during the climb. This was the only negative if one could call it that. Still, it fades in comparison to how spectacular the entirety of the experience is.
Our guide Nova (name pronounced as Nopha) was also carrying bread, eggs and banana from which he prepared us a breakfast at the top with the volcanic steam. It was rather unique breakfast – really large bread size with a mashed, fried banana between two slices (yes, a banana sandwich) and a boiled egg. I would have rather preferred just a banana the natural way and a boiled egg but I suppose bread is still a pretty universal thing. I did eat all of it because I was ravenous at that point despite the odd-hour banana pancakes.
We climbed and climbed and climbed through the dark, crossing tomato and red-chilli fields we could see with our flashlights. During our 1.5 hour climb the 4 of us would have stopped for a break or to catch our breaths about 5-6 times (which also included a morning dump break for Nova and also a 3 minute prayer session, again by Nova – all guides do this) and we weren’t complaining – there were times where we really just HAD to stop to catch our breaths. Otherwise it is a basic and safe trek. You just have to watch your step because of the loose volcanic rocks and brittle pebbles. We reached the first stop (a view point short of the top) at about 5:30am and decided to keep going because it was jam packed. We found our own little spot by 5:47am (if you build a good rapport with your guide you can nudge him to find you a good spot fast) – Nova miraculously did find us one and we just spread out like greedy monsters to have the whole tiny area to ourselves. The sun rose at about 6:20am and the rest is history – spectacular views, people going ‘aaahhh’, camera flashes going off, people posing, taking smooch selfies and random chit-chat.
Another great thing about the trek apart from the whole experience is that you get to spend about 6-7 hours with like-minded, fun people who are looking for the same thing you are – a new experience. There is a sort of group aura that connects everyone in a very basic way that feels great.
After taking in the entire sunset, we walk on to have a better look at the volcano crater, see spots from where the steam is escaping, and even feeding a large tribe of monkeys. The monkeys are not really a menace, ignore them and they won’t bother you, feed them a bit and a few adventurous ones will try to climb onto your backpack or your heads but that’s about it.
Then comes the horribly draining and dreaded part of the journey – the way back down. It takes forever, legs have gone significantly weaker, spirits have dipped even further below and everybody just wants to reach their cars. You spot a lot more people slipping on the pebbles and landing on their bottoms and you just keep going and going and going and going and going and I mean GOING. We finally reached back down at about 8:20am
You see the tomato and red chilly fields in all their glory and if you are a blogger you squeeze your already squeezed partner to take just-one-more-pic of you with the fantastic views of the lake and pathways. Yes it’s a thing and I think we all do it (please tell me I’m right)
We reached the cars, tipped Nova (tipping is not mandatory but if you have had a super time I don’t see the problem with parting with literally peanuts, because their currency is anyway a bit weak) and drove off to an organic coffee and cocoa farm all along secretly just wanting to get back home and lay still for the next 2 days. More of the coffee trip in another blog post.
But this was an experience EVERYONE should have once in their lifetime. It truly is special. If you have done this trek yourself I would love to hear of your experience. Bali is beautiful and full of nature! Some pics from the entire experience.
Tights + Shoes: Adidas
Tee: Forever 21
Location: Mount Batur, Bali
Photographs of me courtesy Aman Godara