For a hike that is as popular among Bali tourists as getting sunburnt is on day one on the island, it’s mental how little is known about climbing Mt. Batur. While most people likely know it’s a volcano and that you can see sunrise, there’s more to the story. Some of it should really be common sense, but apparently when people go on holiday, their brain goes on vacation too.
Here are five things you ought to know if you choose to lean into the tourist thing and climb Batur.
(If you’re interested in hiking other Bali volcanoes, take a look here to see which one is right for you.)
1. Why are you wearing those shorts?
The sunrise hike requires you to wake up around 2am, when the sun is still not out. AKA, it’s cold outside. Come on now, you should know that as you go up in altitude, it gets a bit chillier. Wearing skimpy shorts where your bum hangs out and midriff exposing crop-tops is a death sentence for the goose bumps. Hey men, you too need to cover up, those hairy legs aren’t warm enough. We get it though, you all want to look super-duper cute in your Instagram pics. But the outfit you’re freezing your booty off in isn’t worth the likes. Trust us when we tell you to layer it up with a tank under a long-sleeve and a sweater.
2. Do you see the light? Bring the light!
It’s funny that people need to be reminded that it’s dark before sunrise (it’s called sunrise for a reason). You still cannot really rely on the moonlight to light the sky nor street lamps to light a hiking trail. While some of the path up to Mt. Batur is paved, it’s a volcano, hence it’s not that developed! Most guides forget to mention it, but you’ll definitely need to use a flashlight.
That is if you want to see where and what you’re climbing. Bring the light!
3. Lost in the Crowd
Given the amount of people that hike up Mt. Batur, you’d think there was a pilgrimage to Mecca or something. The trail path is flooded with people, especially during high season. If you were excited to escape the crowded touristy Kuta, we’re very sorry to ruin that temporary moment of happiness. Climbing Batur can be bumper to bumper. Which is quite frustrating for novice hikers who know that hiking is all about cadence and momentum. But this isn’t the case as the ants go marching one by one up the mountain.
4. It’s a hike not a walk in the park
Climbing Mt. Batur is a climb, a proper hike up a mountain. The first half is a bit deceiving as you ascend up a paved roadside hill. About one hour into the hike, steep, loose terrain crumbles as you literally climb up and around volcanic rock. We don’t recommend choosing this as your beginner’s experience. Whatever your level, hiking boots with ankle support are the best shoe choice. Although many people rock up scaling the rocks in Converse shoes. Not sure how long those will last after they reach the summit.
5. Cloudy with a chance of no views
Mother nature has a mind of her own. While we wish the authorities could control the weather and always provide a picturesque view, we’re not too keen on the big brother idea. After climbing for two hours, tourists expect to be automatically rewarded. But wind patterns and forecasts don’t always work in their favor. Usually clouds come and go. Don’t get mad if the view isn’t waiting for you at the top, just be patient!
Getting to the base of Mt. Batur is a tough and windy road, so arranging transport is the best way to get there. Leaving around 2 am and driving half-asleep at the wheel is also probably not the best idea. Most tour packages you buy will include this transport to and from the volcano, with a stop for breakfast and coffee/tea before you climb.
With all of the people stampeding Mt. Batur at the same time, a guide is not necessarily a must (legally though, that might be a different story). You could just follow the crowd. However, some guides know how to bypass the mass of people. If you’re not a confident hiker then you definitely should hire a guide. Some of the terrain requires a bit of local knowledge of the mountain. The other perks of getting a guide is receiving food (cooked on lava steam) after the sunrise. Which is kind of all you want after hiking for two hours at dawn.
With transport, food and guide included, the price should be no more than Rp 500k. You could probably haggle some tour companies down to Rp 300k, just work your magic!