Travel Guide: Mt. Batur, Bali’s Sunrise Hike

Cost: $45

  • Link:
  • What to Bring: Water (they also sell in huts along the way), warm clothes, sneakers (hiking boots are not necessary) and a camera.
  • How to Prepare: I booked my experience a week before. I don’t think this is one of those experiences that books up, there’s room for everyone. I would recommend leaving the day after the hike open for relaxation. If you try to pull an all nighter like me you’ll be very tired afterwards. I don’t know what to tell you about ensuring you wake up at 2AM… I slept through a call, two alarms and nearly slept through someone banging on my door.

I woke up suddenly and frazzled at 2AM to a few loud bangs on my door. All my lights were on and I was head to town in hiking gear. I grabbed my bag, rushed to the door and my personal alarm clock and I ran out to the car filled with sleepy passengers. The adventure had begun!

My plan was to stay awake until my driver was scheduled to pick me up at 2AM, that obviously didn’t happen and I slept right through phone calls to my room and my alarm. To say I’m a heavy sleeper is to put it lightly.

Once I was crammed into the car full of passengers still half asleep the driver took off through the back roads of Bali. We were barreling around tight turns and catching air over the hills while our driver pressed down on the pedal until we reached 80 kilometers an hour. The only creatures out at this hour were the stunned stray dogs roaming the roads. Blinded by high beams and visibly startled as they tripped over their paws and scrambled out of the way of the silver bullet headed towards them.

After about an hour we screeched to a stop in front of a café in the middle of nowhere and were herded out of the car and into a hut. Seated at picnic tables we were served delicious banana pancakes and some mysterious Bali invigoration paste (aka Balinese coffee.) It wasn’t until this point that I was able to fully open my eyes and notice the five strangers that were sitting next to me in the death cab. We had a quick chat, fueled up then off we were again piling into the van and off to the base of Mt. Batur.

Our guide Wayan greeted us here at the base in the dark of the night. We each received a flashlight and off we went. It was hard to keep my eyes on the path in front of me, the stars in the sky were so beautiful. With no clouds and no light pollution we were able to see every recognizable constellation in the southern hemisphere.

The trail to start was a moderate slope, it wasn’t until we were about a quarter of the way up that it started to get steeper and rockier making it more challenging and requiring some climbing. The day I went in March there were about 200 hikers all with torches ascending the dark mountain creating a perfect path of light. Wayan said 200 is a quiet day and that in the busy season there will about a thousand hikers a day.

It took us about 2 hours to reach the top of Mt. Batur. It could have been done in less time if it weren’t for the traffic but even still it was a good pace and we made it to the top while it was still dark. Wayan laid a few blankets out for us to sit on and we cuddled up for the show. The hike up was definitely chilly but the top was freezing! I would recommend wearing warm clothes for the trip.

There were a few stops along the way with little café huts selling water and snacks for fuel. Then a full kitchen situated at the top. Wayan cooked us up a banana sandwich and a hard boiled egg made from the heat of the volcano. While we ate we watched as the stars disappeared and the sky transformed. The landscape changed by the second as the sun stretched higher and higher to meet our horizon filling the sky with layers of light and color. Even the monkeys came out to watch… or maybe it was just to eat our scraps.

Once all the earth around us was touched by light we grabbed our belongings and explored the crater in the middle of the volcano that became visible thanks to the sun. We trekked on narrow ridges around the craters edge admiring the landscape all around us: pink stone slate, ridged valleys, black volcanic sand. We stood stood in the steam billowing from the volcanic rock and let it warm our skin like a sauna.

To descend from the crater’s ridge we slid on invisible boards down the black volcanic sand until we were back on the rocky path that took us into a sacred cave. The cave was slime colored green and filled with monkeys and offerings from the Balinese. The cave is reserved for holy men, not to be entered by tourists and preferably not by monkeys either although it did seem to be where they all congregated to munch on the leftover breakfast.

Once the Bali sun was higher in the sky we made our way to the base quickly where I eagerly climbed into the death cab for some air conditioning relief. Once the van was full again we were off through the narrow roads and back to Ubud by 10AM for some deserved and needed R&R and morning naps.

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