Once a year, my two sisters, Mum and I, try and catch up for a girls weekend away. We try and scratch out the time and money so we can catch up, reconnect, and often have some much needed down time. Our first trip was to celebrate my Mum’s 50th birthday and we went to Bangkok, Thailand.
Over the years, between having kids, moving, living life, we haven’t always managed an exclusive girls trip each year, but we have had memorable trips to the Gold Coast, Palm Cove, Emu Park, and New Zealand. This year my mum is turning 60 and my little sister turns 30 so we decided it was time for another overseas trip. Sale fares cropped up for Bali and we spontaneously decided to book the trip well in advance. This gave me plenty of time to research what trails, hikes, or special attractions that I would like to attempt while staying in Bali.
As you can probably guess if you have been following my blog, I love a good mountain climb, so not surprisingly Mt Batur Sunrise Trek caught my attention. Trip Advisor had some great reviews of this hike and as it was a 4 hour return trip it wouldn’t take up too much time. Let’s be honest those wonderful foot massages, cocktails by the pool, not to mention the shopping were all vying for my attention as well!
I managed to convince my little sister to come with me and our trip started with a 2.30am pick up from our Villa just outside of Ubud. Yes, 2.30 AM pick up, arrrgghh what was I thinking? It took about 30 minutes driving to arrive at the meeting point in the Kintamani National Park complex where we had a small breakfast of banana crepe and tea or coffee. We were quickly ushered back into the car for a further 20 minutes before arriving at the base of Mt Batur. As it was August, it was peak tourism season and the day we hiked there was upwards of 450 people on the mountain. At just over 1700m above sea level, Mt Batur is not a big mountain so this is a lot of people to have on it at one time. I have to admit I am really not a fan of hiking with this many people. There was a lot of waiting before we started and there was a bit of stop and starting during the trek as well.
Before I left Australia, I had been talking to another couple who had just returned from Bali and had completed the Mt Batur trek. Their advice was to take a head light which left your hands free for the steep part of the track, take a warm jacket for the summit, and they also warned that there were no toilets along the way. I don’t know about you, but after breakfast, coffee and an early start, my bladder was becoming very demanding. It was still early in the piece and easy walking, but I was remembering that there were no toilets along the way and we still had 3 more hours of hiking plus waiting time on the top of the mountain. I figured that I would not be able to enjoy the rest of the trek if I didn’t sneak off for a toilet break under the cover of darkness. My tips for taking the sneaky, stealth pee: Don’t forget to turn your headlight off; Try and find a spot that the moonlight won’t reflect off your white backside; And finally, just try to forget that there are 450+ people walking around you and that your face isn’t glowing red in mortification.
For the most part it was quite an easy hike, only the last 45 minutes or so was quite steep. There are plenty of breaks and due the number of people hiking single file the pace is very steady, therefore achievable for most people with moderate fitness. It was a lovely clear morning when we started out, it was dark but the stars and moon were bright and there was that lovely morning crispness to the air that I love. Once we started moving it was a pretty cool sight to see all the twinkling spots of torchlight winding up the mountain. Now the one thing I had been looking forward to since i woke up at a ridiculous time that morning was a spectacular sunrise. We reached the top with a little time to spare and sat there shivering in our sweaty shirts, lucky we had a jacket, but I would recommend a dry shirt to change into. As the sun started to rise, we started to catch glimpses of the view that we had climbed to see, all bathed in a beautiful deep red/orange sky and then tragedy struck in the form of heavy clouds rolling across the mountain……NOOOOOO! Get a load of our eagerly awaited sunrise view……
While the fog was this thick we were seriously doubting whether this trip was worth it. But then the sun started to rise and the clouds started to clear…..
Looking down at the blackened land, cooled lava from an eruption in 1963 that destroyed a village, was a stark reminder that we had just climbed an active volcano! In fact it is Bali’s most active volcano with mild eruptions every 10-15 years. It did make me pause slightly when I did some research prior to the hike that the last eruption was in 2000 and Mt Ruang, in nearby Java, was on the boil. Our boiled eggs for breakfast had been cooked in the steam from the volcano. We were standing on a bloody volcano! C’mon it was a little cool.
It was a pretty great experience and my sister and I were both happy that we did it. We ended up descending a different path than we climbed. It was a nice easy walk down, but I would have liked to see the path we had clambered up in the dark. Oh well, it was not a bad view on the way down regardless.
While this trek is a very commercial enterprise and you could quite easily do it without a guide, I was happy to pay the fee as it creates a lot of employment for locals and I was hopeful that I was paying for their knowledge on the status of this active volcano I was climbing. The views as we drove back to our accommodation were spectacular and all in all I was really happy with the whole experience and will cross this one off the hitlist!