September 11, 2018 – I’m not going to lie, the thought of hiking Mount Batur at sunrise both excited me and terrified me.
Before our trip, I heard from people who thought the Mount Batur sunrise hike was one of the most amazing things they had ever done. But for every person that loved the hike, there was someone else who hated it. I was told that the weather was unpredictable and we might get to the top only to see nothing but clouds. I was also told that the hike was difficult, especially in the dark.
Ultimately, we decided to book the excursion with Bali Sunrise Trekking & Tours and we even got to include Kristi and Kevin, our friends from the Seoul airport.
Fast forward to the day of our hike up Mount Batur. The 1:00 am wake up call was brutal. Some people in Seminyak were still out partying. We were on our way to hike an active volcano.
Gusde, our driver, sent me a message on WhatsApp the night before to confirm our pick up. He told us he would be at our hotel no later than 1:15 am.
We gathered our things and made our way to the front of the resort. The Amala packaged a breakfast box for us to eat on our way to Mount Batur. I couldn’t believe they offered to do this for us given the early time.
Gusde arrived right on time. One of The Amala staff wished us a safe journey and told us a relaxing massage would be waiting for us upon our return. No matter how the hike would go, at least we got to go back to The Amala at the end of the day.
Again, my poor planning started to show. The drive to Mount Batur was going to take us around 2 hours without traffic. Let me say that one more time for emphasis. Two hours WITHOUT traffic. I was dreading the ride back.
We made a pit stop in Ubud to pick up another hiker. I wasn’t sure if we would pick up Kristi and Kevin because they were currently in Ubud. It turns out, they were in a different car. The guy we picked up was a solo traveler from France.
Our solo French hiker did not understand English very well. Gusde also did not know English very well. However, both of them were talkers. It was very interesting listening to their conversations because every now and then one of them would get hung up on a word they didn’t know how to translate to English. So they would describe it to one of us and we would give them the word they were looking for.
These types of interactions always make me realize how privileged we are as native English speakers. Here these two were in a non-English speaking country struggling to communicate in English!
We reached the starting point of our Mount Batur hike around 3:00 am and met up with our guides and the rest of the hikers inside a hotel restaurant.
After a quick explanation of how our hike would go, we were given a bottle of water and a flashlight. Then it was time to hike! We spotted Kristi and Kevin among the other people sitting in the restaurant and made sure to get in their group for the hike. Along with our guide, we had 5 other people with us: Kristi, Kevin, a girl on her own, and another couple.
I was still nervous as we started on the dark dirt path up the mountainside. It was pitch black and the only light we had was from our flashlights. I was hoping the horror stories I heard from others about hiking Mount Batur at sunrise were just a bit of an exaggeration.
Well, it wasn’t. We reached the first rest stop after about 30 minutes of hiking uphill and the other couple in our group decided to quit. I couldn’t believe it! So it was just me, Eric, Kristi, Kevin, the solo girl, and our guide left.
We continued on for another 30 minutes. I forgot to mention the air was very cool going up the mountain in the dark. I had on leggings, tank top, long sleeve shirt, and an athletic jacket. Dressing in layers was definitely the right choice for this activity.
At the second rest stop, we were high enough to be out of the trees and could see the incredible star-filled sky above. It was stunning. I wish I could have captured it with my camera, but I didn’t have the right equipment. Those visual memories will just live on in my head.
The last 15 minutes of the trail were the hardest. It wasn’t that strenuous but the terrain went from a trail we could walk to a trail we had to climb. We all followed our guide’s moves to see where she put her feet and which branches or rocks she held on to. They mentioned this hike was moderate on the tour website but I would definitely say this was more on the difficult side.
After 1.5 hours, we reached the summit of Mount Batur just in time for the sky to burst into color. It was really cold and windy so I was very glad to have all of my layers on. There were usually mountain monkeys at the top but our guide said it was too cold for them. We didn’t know exactly how cold it was but our guide told us it was around 40 degrees(F).
There were so many people at the summit with us. It was surprising because I didn’t notice them on the trail. I learned that for those that couldn’t make it up to the summit by foot, a motorbike could be hired to take them most of the way up. It made me a little angry because half the excitement of hiking Mount Batur at sunrise was the work it took to get to the top. The fact that someone could get up to the top easily took some of the feelings of accomplishment away.
Our guide took us to a really precarious spot above all the crowds. I was slightly concerned because we were literally on the rim of the volcano but also because we were going away from what seemed like the best viewing spot. In the end, it was way better than the first spot because we didn’t have anyone’s head in the way.
Part of the excursion included volcanic steamed eggs. It was basically a hard-boiled egg that was cooked in the hot steam coming from the volcano (I guess that was self-explanatory). We were also given banana sandwiches which were really good.
Watching the sunrise while sitting on the rim of a volcano in Bali is one of the highlights of my life so far. It was magical.
About a month before we arrived in Bali, the other active volcano on the island (Mount Agung) was actively erupting causing issues for those flying in and out of Bali. In fact, friends of ours that traveled there before us had their flight delayed due to the ash cloud covering the sky.
We did have some clouds sweep over us while we were sitting there. But just as quickly as they covered us, they moved on revealing the beautiful sky.
I was so sad we didn’t get any pictures with Kristi and Kevin at dinner the night before so we made sure to make up for it on top of Mount Batur.
We stayed at our spot for about 30 minutes, although it seemed longer. We were all freezing but every now and then the volcanic steam would waft our way and warm us up. Perks of sitting on top of a volcano I guess.
Once the sun was up, our guide took us down to an area where we could experience the volcanic steam shooting through the walls of the volcano. I didn’t fully appreciate how hot this steam was until some of it shot out as I was climbing down and burnt my ankle. It didn’t burn my skin too bad, but it was VERY hot.
We started hiking back to our starting point at around 6:45 am. Since it was the dry season, the trail was very dusty which caused us to lose our footing a few times on the way down. We were also completely covered in dust from head to toe.
I forgot to mention this weird thing that happened to Eric when we arrived in Seminyak the day before. He got bit on his inner arm by what we thought was a mosquito. But during our hike, we noticed it started to create a red swollen trail up his arm. He asked our guide on our walk down if she had any idea what it could be. She didn’t know but she offered Eric some medicinal salve that everyone used on the island for various non-lethal bug bites. It seemed to soothe it a bit.
We reached the restaurant to end our journey around 7:50 am. Since Kristi and Kevin rode with a different driver, they left to go back before us. So we said our goodbyes and waited for our solo Frenchman to make it back.
It took him quite a while which irritated us since we knew how long it would take for us to get back. We ended up leaving the area around 8:45 am.
We had another fun car ride as interpreters and dropped the Frenchman off at his place in Ubud around 9:45 am. Our driver then went back to the main part of Ubud which we thought was strange.
It turned out that we would be picking up another couple who were heading to Seminyak. I guess our driver was killing two birds with one stone.
The other couple was from Ireland on break from school. It was 10:30 am (yes, it took 45 minutes to get from one part of Ubud to the other part), so we had quite a lot of time to chat with them.
We talked about where they were from and where they went to school. I forget which school they went to but I’m pretty sure it was in London. Both of them said they didn’t enjoy living there. I adored their accents.
Does anyone want to take a guess as to when we arrived back at our resort?
12:45 pm. From the time we left Mount Batur to when we pulled in to our resort it took 4 hours. So what did we learn? If you want to hike Mount Batur, do it from Ubud!
I’d like to pause to reflect on how much time we had spent in transit on the island of Bali so far. Let’s see, there was the ride from the airport to Ubud (2 hours), the ride from Ubud to Seminyak (2 hours), Seminyak to Mount Batur (4 hours), Mount Batur to Seminyak (4 hours). That is a total of 12 hours in the car in 4 days not including the day we spent exploring Ubud.
Now that I got that out, on to the rest of our day.
Again, I was ready to make a break for it as soon as we saw The Amala sign. I saw the smiling face of one of the ladies that worked the concierge desk when we pulled up and immediately relaxed. The remainder of our day would be spent in total relaxation mode.
Like I said earlier, we were completely covered in dust from head to toe. So we both got a good scrub down and washed our clothes. It was truly amazing just how much of Mount Batur we brought back with us.
Since it was well past lunchtime and both of us were starving, we decided we wouldn’t sleep just yet. I needed one of those famous Bali smoothie bowls in my life! Nalu Bowls was right down the road from The Amala so that’s where we headed.
I was a little confused when we arrived. I didn’t realize Nalu Bowls was basically just a bar on the sidewalk connected to the bigger restaurant called Shelter. Eric wanted something other than a smoothie bowl, but we were told that the wait was long. So we just decided to sit at the bar and I got my bowl.
I ordered their acai bowl which was topped with delicious mango, granola, and coconut. If heaven could be put in a bowl that was it.
After our bowls, I could tell Eric was about ready to pass out. It was a good thing our daily massage was coming up! So we headed back to The Amala to get ready for our massage 2:00 pm.
The massage routine was similar to the facial and ended with the delicious ginger and lemongrass tea.
After the massage, we decided to order some snacks and drinks to our room. Then we enjoyed the pool for a couple hours. We were both running off of fumes with only getting about 4 hours of sleep and hiking a volcano, but I couldn’t take a nap. I don’t do naps unless I’m deathly ill. Eric took a much-needed nap though.
Around 5:00 pm we got ready to go out to an early dinner. We skipped the beach sunset and went straight to Mozzarella Restaurant & Bar, one of the many Italian restaurants in Seminyak. It was about a 10-minute walk from The Amala.
The food at Mozzarella was so good. I had the portobello garlic cream sauce pasta and Eric got some kind of meat (maybe lamb). Neither of us could remember, but there is a picture.
I really wanted to stop for ice cream on our way back to The Amala, but we were both stuffed from dinner. So we returned to our villa and went straight to bed.
We would have another early morning the next day for our excursion to snorkel around Nusa Penida island!
Continue reading the travel diary here: Day 16: Snorkeling in Bali with Manta Rays at Manta Point
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