The first of three volcanoes we had realistically planned to climb in Indonesia (lets exclude Rinjani for now) Mount Batur is the second highest volcano in Bali and a well beaten track for tourists and locals alike.
We had decided to leave Ubud and stay in a little village at the base of the volcano called Toya Bungkuh, easy we thought, cheaper we thought. Hmmmm. On second thought this was not the best idea for two reasons;
1. You have to go directly through the official rangers office which it turns out has astronomical prices compared to going from Ubud which was still cheaper even with a transfer
2. Leaving Toya Bungkah or even the more touristy Peneloken up the hill to go to any other destination (we were headed for Lovina) is again, sickeningly expensive for the journey
However, unperturbed by this (sort of!) and being hustled into paying and receiving a piece of scrap paper as a receipt we were happy in the knowledge we would get to climb Batur the following day….or were we? The rest of the day was spent fretting and panicking that we had been conned into parting ways with *cough* $50 each and no idea whether or not our ‘guide’ would actually turn up at the proposed 3am wake up call….! Was this to be our first major error?
Despite not being able to sleep, dozing in and out of nightmares of never seeing our money again, our worry was of course needless and when 3am came round we were happily greeted (despite the time) by a banging at the door beckoning us to get up and put our jumpers on. Apart from the price, so far so good…phew!
A gathering at the bottom of the volcano for a short brief consisting of ‘follow this local guide, he will cook you breakfast at the top’ later and we were off, in a line holding suspect torches that didn’t really penetrate the darkness in front. We had paid for the harder route up, including going to the highest point of the crater and then walking all the way round it, to experience all the volcano had to offer so we were led off away from the masses going up the ‘easy route’ into the darkness.
The climb was pretty easy going, albeit quite steep, until you get to around half an hour from the summit where the path gets pretty rugged and you have to scramble up solidified lava and loose rocks. Our three months of little exercise really starting to show we were happy to make it to the top sufficiently sweaty and gasping for some water. We perched on the edge of a little wooden bench and trying to block out the other hundred people up there waited patiently for the sun to begin its ascent (and nibbled on some Oreo’s stashed in our bag!)
We had heard it could be pretty hit and miss in terms of the view and with some smatterings of rain on our way up we were a little concerned but turns out we were pretty lucky and as the oranges and pinks of the sun started to appear behind Mount Agung in the distance we sat back and enjoyed the views.
It was amazing…
Following some strange hard boiled eggs, banana and bread we took a walk around the crater itself. The smoke started to billow from the surface and it made for some epic views across the mountain! The crater itself doesn’t have much of a path and an ash ski slope greets you on the other side with tons of people sliding down on their backsides or being manhandled down by the guides (Charlotte!)
Slope traversed and easyish walk down the mountain ensues and its a feeling of elation when you get to the bottom! A great start to the morning that’s for sure and falling asleep eating breakfast at the hostel is almost guaranteed!
Definitely give it a go!!
C & J