It’s 2am. Our flight landed in Bali from Dubai at 10pm and we checked into the hotel by midnight. Two hours later we were sat in the lobby waiting for our driver to pick us up. It’s pitch black and the only thing we can hear is the sound of jungle insects and geckos. Our driver arrives and off we go to tackle the Mount Batur Sunrise hike.
We were driving for just over an hour in complete darkness. I honestly don’t have a clue how our driver managed to make his way to the bottom of the mountain as the roads in Bali have very poor street lighting. But nevertheless we got there safe and sound. We had arranged a package with our hotel for 700 Indonesian Rupiah each, which included transportation to and from Mount Batur, in addition to a private tour guide to walk with us up the mountain. He hands us over some flashlights and cautiously asks if we’re ready; we look at each other confused, how difficult can this be right?
We begin our hike at around 3:30am. No joke, 30 minutes in we were giving each other ‘the look’. You know that look you give someone where you want to shout out loud WTF but its highly inappropriate so you just give ‘the look’ instead. Well, that was us, every 5 minutes, 30 minutes into the hike.
I’m slipping and stumbling up a slope. It’s the middle of the night and I’m hiking in complete darkness, the path is illuminated by nothing more than our flashlights. I trip over a rock and nearly fall flat on my face before an arm shoots out and pulls me upright. For anyone wondering if they need a private tour guide, you don’t as there is loads of other people doing the hike so you’re not on your own by all means. For me personally, our Balinese tour guide was more of my personal helper who’s spent the better part of the hike preventing me from breaking various limbs or falling off the side of the volcano we’re climbing. I basically was holding his arm the entire way, allowing myself to be gracefully pulled up the mountain on times where I felt like giving up.
In the blackness, you really can’t tell how far up you are or how much farther you need to go. Our tour guide kept saying “15 minutes away”, but after an hour we realised that this was his way of giving us banter. In many ways, that uncertainty is a relief. You only have this moment, one foot in front of the other, the sight of darkness, the feeling of sweat on your back under your layers and backpack, and the sound of people breathing as we form a single line up the narrow switchbacks.
I’m by no means a professional mountaineer, but if there is a trail winding its way up any sort of hill/cliff/volcano/mountain to a beautiful sunrise/sunset I want to be on it, working my sweaty self toward the top. It took us around 2.5 hours to make it to the top.
Mount Batur is a popular hike for tourists to Bali, and as soon as I heard about it, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stand atop an ancient volcano and watch the sun come up over the sea.
At 5:45am it’s sunrise; the sky turns from black to inky blue to pink and orange. With the light,we can see how far we’ve climbed. I’m sitting on a stone ledge overlooking the village rooftops, drinking water and eating a grilled banana with chocolate sauce. Theres a few wild mountain dogs walking around who seem to be admiring the views as well. My feet are dangling into the air and the expanse of the valley stretches before me. I can see the faint outline of the island of Lombok in the distance.
Suddenly, I hear screaming behind me and a lot of commotion. There’s about 25 monkeys all around us! WILD MONKEYS! Scavenging for left over food. I swear I seen three monkeys bully a dog toward the edge of the mountain edge because they wanted to take the food that he was eating. It was crazy. Everyone started taking lots of pictures of the monkeys and trying to coax them on their shoulders for selfie opportunities. The monkeys seemed pretty angry though, and extremely Alpha. I wasn’t planning to allow one of these to hop on my shoulder.
After about an hour of exploring the crater and taking lots of pictures we made our way back down. The walk down was equally as exhausting as the walk up except there was more to look at. We came across some little huts/houses, small rice fields, and local Balinese farmers. It was around 8:30am at this point and the sun was getting pretty hot. We took off layers and still felt really hot! We finally made it back to the main car park at the bottom and our tour guide found our driver for us. We tipped our guide and then proceeded to make our way back to our hotel.
Is Mount Batur Sunrise Hike worth it? Absolutely! An amazing experience which is a MUST if you visit Bali. If you like photography then you will get some awesome shots here. We got a couple of really nice silhouette pictures which our tour guide took. We actually got really lucky with him as he knew all the best spots for photo opportunities and made sure to clear the way so that we didn’t have any photo bombs. The sunrise is simply stunning and a great way to start your trip. There are a few online websites you can use to book your trip, or alternatively you can do what we did and book direct with your hotel. As mentioned before, ours cost 700 Indonesian Rupiah each, which was very reasonable for what we got. FYI, we spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool. After a hike like this your feet/legs will be killing you, so keep the rest of the day free for complete relaxation.