Climbing Mount Batur, Bali

Living in New Zealand for a wee while, really opened my eyes and pushed my adventurous nature towards the outdoors even further; Although New Zealand is one of the most stunning places I’ve lived in, it wasn’t hard to be in awe of everything and anything once you got outside.

One thing I started doing more of, is tramping (trekking/hiking). I completed a good few walks, though the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and The Mueller Hut at Mount Cook are by far my biggest achievements. Ultimately I think this lead me to completing another big trek whilst in Bali recently.

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Mount Batur, also known as Kintamani Volcano, sits in the North East of the island of Bali. It is a volcano, but not currently active, and stands at 1717m. Before I left New Zealand, I knew climbing this Mountain was a possibility, but wasn’t sure of my itinerary, so figured I’d sort it out when I got there.

Ubud in Bali is one of the main hubs for tours to Mount Batur. Tourist agencies every 10 metres along the street advertise for these trips daily.

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I had previously looked online, and saw prices anywhere between 400,000- 600,000 Rupiah (roughly NZD $40-60). A wee bit steep for my backpacker budget, but I thought if that was the main big activity in Bali that I did, then that would be ok.
In my first day in Ubud, I had a chat to one of the tourist agencies, and he offered the tour for 300,000 through Sunrise tours. I thought it sounded too good to be true. I looked up the company and they seemed legit, but more expensive in the online.
I later returned to try and book, and couldn’t find this illusive travel agent. In the end, the guest house I was staying in offered the same tour for 350,000. I felt better about booking through my accommodation, so signed up, paid the fee and was ready.
I was told that I would be picked up at 2am. 2am?! That’s the middle of the night, and even earlier than I had for up the previous week for my flight out of New Zealand.
I told myself I’d go to bed by 8pm. That didn’t happen. It was more like 10pm, but I was unable to sleep. There was an unusual amount of noise outside.

I probably got about 3 hours sleep.
1.45am, and the alarm rang. Up, dressed, head torch found, biscuits ate to settle my groggy tummy from being woken up in the middle of the night. Dressed and off.

I was picked up by a shady looking young boy, by the name of Wayn. He looked about 17, and equally as tired. Bundled into the back of a minivan, we made stops to collect other trampers. There were 5 of us in all. 3 Australians, a Brazilian and myself.
The drive from Ubud to our first stop was quite an adventure. Weaving in and out of traffic (there was a surprising amount of traffic on the road at that time), going full speed through pot holes and overtaking on a corner. At one point, I closed my eyes and just waited for the car to stop.
We stopped off at a Coffee Plantation, which appeared to be run by an Indonesian mob, all smoking and playing card games in a back room. We were sat at a table, in a concrete shelter, given tea with no milk (seriously Asia? I’ve yet to have a decent cup of tea in two weeks), and a pancake with Bananas.
At that point it was much easier to see my fellow trampers and talk to them. All of them were on a short holiday to Bali. They asked me about how much tramping experience I had, given that I lived in New Zealand. I casually mentioned Mount Cook and Tongariro. They then assumed I was very fit, and so I thought ‘shit, I’m going to have to keep up with everyone on this walk.’

 

After our snack, we were on our way. Arriving at the Park by 4am. We then met Noymad, our tramping guide. He was a cute wee thing, all rugged up in a woollen hat and fleeced. I looked at myself in shorts and singlet, with only a hoodie and hat to chuck on if needed and wondered how prepared I was.

After issuing torches (I had a head torch with me, so didn’t take one), we were off.
The entire walk was said to take 1.5-2 hours. It was 1717m high. 83 metres shy of my previous accomplishment at Mount Cook. I felt confident.

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It was a little strange walking in the middle of the night, only seeing however far your torch reached, although at times, with the shadow of the moon, I could see the top. It looked rather daunting.
The first hour was pretty easy, if you are in any fit shape (and I don’t consider myself to be that fit). The only issue was the amount of loose rocks you had to negotiate.
We had a few rest stops for water breaks and kept going.
The last 45 minutes was a little more challenging, with a big incline, and many rocks to climb over, still it didn’t deter me, and I managed to keep second between the guide the whole way (can you tell how competitive I am?).
Around 5.20am, it was beginning to get light and it looked like we had reached the top, with a wee shack, with many seats and people. Our guide then said, you can stop here, or go to the top.

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I said, is this 1717m or is the top 1717m? He said it was the top, so I said .. yup .. lets go, I didn’t get up at 2am to not reach the top! The summit climb took another 20 minutes, during that time, it started getting lighter. Clouds were clearing, and it was looking beautiful.
We reached the top at 5.40am. A one hour 40 minute climb.

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There were many people at the top, but I managed to find a quiet wee spot, and watch the sunrise. It was beautiful.

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After sunrise, we got given a second breakfast, presumably for energy for the climb down. Breakfast consisted of a boiled egg, and warm banana sandwiches. Strangely it worked.

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It was a bit chilly, but not as cold as I had expected. Nothing a hoodie and my warm woollen hat didn’t sort.

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The descent to the car park was a lot more challenging than the way up. It was then that you realise what sort of terrain you had been climbing up. Thick, red volcanic sand and many loose rocks were the challenge on the way down.

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As well as those pesky Monkey’s trying to jump on you for food.

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The journey down seemed to take longer than the climb, but I made it back in one piece, despite a fall.
It was 9am by the time we were on our way back, and I felt like I had been up all day.
Arriving back at the guesthouse, I showered and slept for three hours. Some people were only getting up by the time I got back. They missed the best part of the day.
If you’re in Bali and enjoy the challenge that tramping brings, I’d definitely do this trek. Street prices for the trek are good, but I’ve heard online companies are a little better – they offer chocolate pancakes and hot chocolate at the top, as well as a walk around the rim of the Volcano.

 

Tips for the climb

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You don’t need to book in advance, I booked the day before
Bring a jacket/hoodie (especially if you think it may rain), a hat may also be good
A head torch is a good idea, as depending on group size, there aren’t enough to go around
Snacks aren’t necessary, but it depends on your energy levels during exercise, perhaps nuts or lollies would be beneficial
There are no toilets at the top (or so it seemed)
You are given a wee bottle of water by the guide 800ml. I also had my own 800ml bottle, but only drank one
Tramping shoes with a good tread is recommended. Though I saw some people do it in regular runners (trainers/sneakers)

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