We went to leave our hotel at 3.15 am on the 20th March. We got to the exit of our hotel, to find that the gate was locked. Rather than waking up the staff, and getting the hassle of being told that we needed a guide, we decided to just jump over the gate. I guess the adventure started here.
The walk to the foothill of Mount Batur, took about 25 minutes from Hotel Surya. We had our wind up torch ready with us, which we needed even just to walk along the dark road, leading to the foothill. Lucky it was a wind up torch, as if our batteries had gone, we would have been stuck!
Just as we got to the foothill of the Volcano, a guide with a group came running up to us, saying, where are you going? I will go and take you to the Trekking office to pay for a guide. We replied by saying ‘where are you going?’ He finally got the message, that we did not want a guide.
So the trek began. We started from the lake side of the mountain, opposite a small shop. The path was wide at the beginning, but got narrower as we climbed higher. It was hard with just one torch, so I would suggest everyone in your group takes a torch. We took the walk slowly in the dark, as we wanted to make sure we were sticking to the correct path at all times. Most of the time the path was clear, but at times there were a couple of ways to go, and in the dark it was hard to see which was the easiest path. Most of the time we were walking completely alone, but eventually a few groups with guides came up behind us. The guides kept asking, how many are in your group? We would reply, just us two. They were trying to get us to join their group. We are sure it is nice going with a group, and if you manage to find other travelers who want to climb with you, that would be a good idea. However we did not want the restriction of having a guide tell us, what time we had to leave and what time we had to start our descent down the volcano. Also most guides charge $35-$60 each. Which we felt was a monopoly, as this is much higher than the average wage in Bali.
The first half of the walk was mostly flat, with just a slight gradient. When we got to the base of the mountain, it became much steeper and rockier. However, other than loosing breath at times, this part of the walk was safe and manageable for most people. We just needed to take our time on the rocks, making sure they were stable. So far we had both managed to stay of both feet. Just as we got close to the top, a guide in front, decided to try and be helpful by giving me his hand, to steady me. Funny thing is, this is the only time that I fell!
The walk to the first peak took us around 1 ½ hours. This is where most guides take their groups to watch the sunrise. We decided to also stop here. Sunrise was around 6am. Watching the sunrise from the top of Mount Batur, was a beautiful experience, which I would recommend to everyone. Lucky for us the sky was clear, apart from a few clouds. So the view across the lake and mountains was amazing. Across the lake we could see Mount Abang and just behind that Mount Agung.
We had to put our jackets on for the first time since being away, as the air was fairly cold up high. We sat for about 1 hour watching the sun slowly come up. This was such a peaceful experience. I will certainly always remember this moment!
We decided to continue our walk up to the 2nd peak, at around 7am. This part of the walk is more difficult, but still safe. It is just one steep, sandy hill, upwards. I found it easier to let my feet sink one at a time, to give me some grip; otherwise I seemed to be getting no where. This part of the walk only takes around 10 minutes, however we had to stop a few times, to get our breath, as the hill was very steep. It was encouraging to hear the voice of a lady at the top, saying, you’re nearly at the here!
We are so glad that we walked up to the 2nd peak, as this is where you see the Crater of the Volcano fully. You can also see volcanic steam, coming from the crater. We saw an egg cooking on one of the vents. You also have a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, where you can see, several volcanoes, the lake and even the ocean in the distance. We stopped here for a while, to just sit and take it in!
After walking to the 2nd peak, there is the option to walk around the rim of the crater. The edge along the crater looked narrow and a lot harder. I decided I wasn’t up for walking around the crater, as I am not great with heights, and thought that I would not enjoy this part of the walk. Just when I had convinced Paul, that wasn’t going to walk around the rim, I saw a little American girl aged around 10 years old, who inspired me to keep going. She dragged her Mum along, saying, look lets walk around there, it looks awesome. She was right it did look ‘awesome’; I was just letting my fear stop me. So I said energetically ‘Ok, let’s continue’!
So we continued the walk. At first it didn’t seem so hard, but as we got to the middle of the rim, the path became very narrow and there were no longer any edges to hold onto. This is when I started to wander, what the heck I was doing out here! Paul kept encouraging me, which helped a lot. I finally pulled myself together, and continued. It was important that I stayed confident, as it was when I was scared, that I would loose my balance.
Once I became more confident, I started to enjoy the walk much more. It was definitely worth it! We made sure we stopped plenty times, to take the view in, as it is hard to appreciate it, whilst walking, with shear drops, at both sides of you.
Even though we didn’t have a guide with us, we were not alone. A small dog followed us all along the rim of the crater. How he got up there I do not know. He became our little guide, making sure we got down ok. Although at times, he got in our way, as he kept walking under our feet, making us trip over.
The hardest bit of the walk was the descent down the rim of the crater. This was just a sandy hill, so it was very hard to stop. It would of been easier to slide down!
We got back down to the foothill of Mount Batur, around 12pm. We were the only ones up there at this point, as everyone else had been taken down with their guides. We are very glad we didn’t get a guide, as we would not of seen half of what we saw.
Walking up Mount Batur, was amazing, and if you are in Bali, I would highly recommend you to walk up. You do not need a guide, but if you are alone, I would suggest that the company would be good!
Ruth and Paul