Climbing Mount Batur, Bali’s Most Active Volcano

On my last week in Bali, I decided I needed to break up my serene yoga and coconut water routine with something a bit more… adventurous. So I signed myself up for an early morning trek to Mount Batur, Bali’s most active volcano.

When my alarm jolted me awake at 2 a.m. (the earliest alarm I’ve ever set), I wondered if I really need to incorporate “adventurous” activities into my Bali itinerary.

Nevertheless I piled into the van with my fellow trekkers and drove to a nearby coffee plantation for a tea and coffee tasting and a banana pancake breakfast. After my 2 a.m. wake-up call the coffee was quite welcomed.

In pitch blackness, we started out the trek on flat ground. Rocking out to Grizmatik and SBTRKT, I led the group thinking, “This is easy! Why don’t I do this more often?” My false confidence began to soar as I fantasized about my next climbs: Macchu Picchu, Ciudad Perdida in Colombia, Mount Rinjani on nearby Lombok… if this was so easy, then why not?

As my loaner flashlight started shorting out I wished I had brought a headlight. And as the incline became agonizingly steep I wished I was warm in my bed.

When I removed my headphones I realized how hard I was panting- yoga clearly hadn’t been enough cardio prep for this volcanic excursion. I took a moment to catch my breath and let everyone pass me- I don’t know about you guys but I find it stressful to worry about people behind me getting fed up with my slow-pokiness.

Thankfully, our sweet guide noticed I was struggling and offered to carry my backpack. Relieved of my heavy dSLR and water bottle, I started to feel a little hopeful. But when I asked the guide how long we had left, he cooly responded, “Only 30 more minutes.”

My internal reaction was along the lines of WHAT????? But fortunately we weren’t heading to the summit of Mount Batur, only to Sunrise Point.

As I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain, I asked my guide how often he climbed Mount Batur.

“Almost every day.”

Jesus.

When we reached Sunrise Point I rejoined my fellow trekkers in a  simple concrete shelter. The far-off mountain was still shrouded in a grey haze, so we sat down and relaxed, awaiting the sunrise.Ubud Trekking LR

Watching the fog roll in, I savored a banana sandwich and hard-boiled egg. Though the sharp-toothed macaques who were leaping around and stealing food made me feel a bit… unsettled.

Confession? I don’t like monkeys. They creep me out.

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It’s like a cross between a rat and a human… 

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Once the golden-rayed sun made its appearance, we took a few shots and headed to the crater, where I snapped my best photos of the day- if I do say so myself.

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Macaques eating the offerings, par for the course on Bali.

And once we returned to the summit my hostel roommate and I staged a mini mountainside photo session. When in Bali…

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On the way back down the mountain I found myself slipping on loose, brittle, igneous rock. Even with the slipping, I much preferred descending the mountain as I felt less like dying and could actually hold a conversation.

We then crawled back into the van and drove home and on the way we saw adorable Balinese schoolchildren from the window. In my dog-tired state I realized they weren’t coming home from school, they were going to school. As so much had already happened that day, it was incredible to me that it was only 10 a.m. Normally I’m barely awake at 10 am.

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And while I was sore for the next few days, my hike to Mount Batur was an untraditional Thanksgiving that left me feeling very, very thankful.

Have you ever climbed a volcano?

I was not paid or perked in any way by Pineh Bali Tours. I would highly recommend their tour as they were super professional, punctual and needless to say had the sweetest guides ever. The trek is 400,000 IDR or about $35, including all transport and food.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

28 thoughts on “Climbing Mount Batur, Bali’s Most Active Volcano”

  1. Never having climbed a volcano, I DO consume black LAVA sea salt! Does that count? Smiles. FANTASTIC photos indeed and terrific to see some early morning doings!!! I’m not a fan of monkeys either, and enjoyed your post!! Cheers!

  2. I climbed mount vesuvius in Italy….and it was close it as beautiful and it was a bitch. The whole way up in basically all ash, so your feet cant get a grip. I actually rented a walking stick. I did like it though, even though I felt like a big baby!! ;)

  3. Early morning wakeup calls are the bane of my existence… part of the reason I chose not to climb Mt Batur when I was in Bali! You’re making me wish I had though.

  4. Looks like a beautiful morning after the mist cleared! Well done you for getting up so early and completing the climb. I climbed mt Kinabalu in Borneo which sounds like a similar setup. Bloody scary in places and they get you up early so you can’t see how steep it is! Haha. Enjoy your adventures! X

  5. I’ve never heard a monkey called that before.

    I had a rough time coming down Mt. Olympus. Hitting the summit was a challenge, but my legs were jello coming down. I like hiking and mountains so this is all a good idea to me. Though, I’ve never had a 2am start.

  6. This looks like a really beautiful trek. And I also find it incredible how much you are able to do when you wake up very early ;)

  7. It looks beautiful I love hiking but I have often had those moments of “why am I doing this?” mid climb. The views and sense of satisfaction are always worth it though. I have climbed a volcano once before: Cotopaxi in Ecuador. It was absolutely amazing but I started getting a massive headache part way through. Not sure if it was due to altitude or lack of water because I was afraid of having nowhere to use the bathroom..!

  8. Hey Ashley!
    How much did the trek took in total?
    It must have been Amazing! Cool pics!!
    I never climbed a volcano, but this summer we plan to visit Sicily, and I want to trek on Mount Etna! It’s going to be hard!!!!!! :D

  9. Yes, I’ve been up a volcano. In the Dominican Republic. It was amazing and misty! I would like to go up this one too but I’m not so sure about The 02:00 wake-up call. Did you see any young teenagers about (son is going to be 12! in a few weeks), or would you say definitely for adults only?

    • Hi Victoria, I was in Mt. Batur too a month ago. Its 8 hours total, but the uphill climb itself takes about 2 hours (from the car to the peak). I made the trek while in my third month of pregnancy, and I met a family, mother and 5 years old son, who walked it by himself, and dad carrying his 8 months old baby in carrier. So it much depends on how you are used to hike, you know :)
      PS my experience was very similar, first I lead the group, later on I was dying and catching my breath :D And the way down the hill I even had some conversation :)))

  10. Hi Ashley, your photos look great! Haha, that monkey does look like a rat and human hybrid. I climbed Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano, it’s pretty steep!

  11. Mt.Batur Sunrise Trekking.
    It is once in a life time experience to see the Sunrise from the top Bali’s active Volcano Mt.Batur (1717 m) ,the early Trekking is invigorating ,and the Sunrise views from the peak unsurpassed.

    Itinerary Mt.Batur Sunrise Trekking:
    02 am,hotel pick up drive directly to starting point.
    03 am .For breakfast Banana Pancake with Chocolate and any of the Tea or Coffee varieties (Vanila Coffee,Ginseng Coffee,Black Coffee or Luwak/Civet Coffee) available here at Pineh Colada Bali ,Bali Coffee Plantation and Organic Farm(exlusive service available only from Pineh Trekking.Please book with Pineh Trekking to receive this breakfast inclusion with your hiking tour.
    04 am.You will be accompanied by a licenced Trekking organization guide to assist you with your ascent of around 2 hours from bottom to peak.
    05 am.There will be a short stop for resting and drinking supplied water.
    06 am.On arrival at the peak of Mt.Batur you will be served with a packed breakfast and egg cooked in in the Volcano steam while you wait for the Sunrise .
    09 am.After the climb you will be taken back to “”Pineh Colada Bali Coffee Plantation and Organic Farm”” for free Banana Fritter and Tea or Varietes of Coffee along with fresh fruits picked at the Organic Farm.

    Once again,book with Pineh Trekking to receive this inclusion.
    10 am.Back to the hotel.

    To contact/SMS 24 hours:
    Mobile: +62 81 338 459 739.
    +62 87 861 220 932.
    Telp : (0366) 51378
    http://www.pinehbalitours.com
    pinehcoladabali@yahoo.co.id
    booking@pinehbalitours.com

    Mr.Pineh.

  12. Thank you very much for your explanation about our volcano, let introduce my Name. I am Jero I was born and grow up just on the put of Mount Batur. I become a local guide from 20 years ago. I have enough experienced for it and has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. If anyone want to hike Mt. Batur do not hesitate to contact me at WhatsApp +6281904082208. Thank you very much.

    Regards,

    Jero

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