Mountain lovers, this is for you! Did you know you can climb an active volcano in Bali? Check out our new complete guide to trekking Mount Batur at sunrise – an experience you can’t miss in the Island of Gods!
We were climbing in complete darkness, following our hazy flashlights. Every now and then, our guide Putu would hold his hand out, helping us up, or guiding us past challenging spots. I could feel the rough edge of volcanic rocks underfoot, as we neared the summit of Mount Batur.
On one side, there was the mountain. Our dim flashlights didn’t reveal much, but I could make out black rock, with a faint pink tinge. On the other site, lights were dancing all around Lake Batur, and a larger, looming silhouette was barely visible, surrounded by the starry sky.
It was none other than Mount Agung, Bali’s tallest and best-known volcano, all over the news with its ongoing eruption.
This was just the beginning of our volcano adventure – trekking Mount Batur at sunrise was definitely the highlight of the five weeks we spent in Bali. We were in two minds about whether or not to do it, as I hate waking up early – and the 1 am wake up call required to hike Mount Batur in time for sunrise is beyond early. But trust me, it’s worth the effort!
So, if you are debating whether or not to include Mount Batur in your Bali plans, stop thinking and just do it. It will be a day unlike any other, definitely worth the extreme wake up call. Here’s a guide with absolutely everything you need to know to plan your Mount Batur sunrise trek, with a detailed account of our experience!
Where is Mount Batur?
Mount Batur (Gunung Batur in Indonesian) is located in the Kintamani region, in the northeastern part of Bali. It’s about 1 and a half hours drive from Ubud, and over 2 hours from Canggu and Seminyak – more on the way back, since you’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter traffic.
UNESCO-listed Mount Batur is one of Bali’s three active volcanoes. It’s 1717 meters high, much shorter than Mount Agung, which is 3031 meters high.
The two volcanoes are located right across each other, separated by Lake Batur, the largest in Indonesia. At the end of your Mount Batur trek, standing on the summit, you’ll get a wonderful view of Mount Agung with the rising sun behind.
How to Get to Mount Batur?
By far, the easiest way to reach Mount Batur is by car. Hotel pickup and transfer is included in most Mount Batur hiking packages – including the tour we went on, organised by TripGuru.
If you’re staying in Kuta, Seminyak or Canggu, you’ll be picked up around 1.30 am, while if you’re in Ubud, pick up time is usually around 2.30 am. You’ll be trekking Mount Batur in time for sunrise, so an early wake up call is required!
If you have a scooter, in theory you could also ride to the base of Mount Batur yourself and trek to the summit independently. However, we would very much advise against doing so – riding through Bali in the middle of the night on a scooter might be dangerous, as the roads are dark and full of obstacles (not to mention, lots of dogs!)
How to Plan Your Mount Batur Trek?
Planning a Mount Batur sunrise hike is super easy. Dozens of companies operate Mount Batur day trips, starting with a 1.30/2.30 am pick up, and dropping you off back at your hotel between 11 am/12.30 pm depending on traffic and location.
We opted for this hike with TripGuru, because we liked the idea of hiking with a small group. TripGuru put us in touch with our driver via WhatsApp, and we arranged a time and place for our early morning pick-up.
It is not necessary to book months in advance for your Mount Batur trek as departures are frequent, but if you want to book a small-group tour like we did, we recommend doing so at least one week before your chosen date.
Can you Hike Mount Batur Without a Guide?
That’s a hard question to answer. In theory, yes. You could simply drive yourself to the base of Mount Batur and start hiking. If you’re in good physical conditions, this hike isn’t challenging or demanding in any way, and the path is clear and easy to follow – provided you pay attention, as accidents have happen in the past, and one tourist even died after falling into the crater.
However, we very much recommend trekking Mount Batur with a guide, for two reasons. Firstly, this is how many locals living in the vicinity of Mount Batur support themselves. Secondly, if you rock up independently, you’ll certainly be hassled by freelance guides for their services.
Even if you do manage to find the trailhead and start hiking alone, you’ll be stopped along the way, and you may not be allowed to continue unless you hire a guide.
Travel is supposed to be fun, so would you really like to put yourself through all that just to save $50? Do yourself a favour and enjoy trekking Mount Batur with a local guide!
Trekking Mount Batur – Going Up
After driving across Bali for a couple of hours, you’ll be reaching the car park at the bottom of Mount Batur around 3.30/4 am. There we met our local guide Putu, who gave us with flashlights and a bottle of water each, before starting the trek.
At the start, the trail climbed gradually, we were all able to keep a steady pace, since we were climbing in darkness and there was nothing to see.
After approximately half an hour, Putu gave us a choice – continue on the ‘easier’ path, which we would have had to share with dirt bikes ferrying tourists to the path, or opt for the ‘hard’ path, steeper and more uneven, but with fewer people and no bikes.
We all agreed on the hard path. We hiked through a forest for a further half-hour, as the trail grew increasingly steeper. Nyoman, a young lady from a nearby village joined us, with a backpack full of soft drinks and snacks available for sale.
The final stretch of the Mount Batur hike was the most challenging – even though to be honest, I didn’t find the trek to be at all hard. After we left the forest, the path became very rocky, and sometimes we needed to use our hands to scramble up, and it was necessary to pay attention to the uneven terrain.
’10 minutes to the summit’ Putu said as we got to a small shop where tourists on dirt bikes were being dropped off. We hiked a few more switchbacks up, on a flat, even path, until we reached the top.
Trekking Mount Batur – The Summit & Crater
We got to the summit of Mount Batur at 5.20 am, a full hour before sunrise. There are benches set up for hikers to sit on, overlooking Lake Batur and Mount Agung, slowly becoming visible as sunrise got nearer, and the sky turned from inky black to blue to mauve. We were handed our breakfasts, boxes with cheese sandwiches, boiled eggs, and a hot coffee.
Then, suddenly, we heard a loud boom, and saw a flash of red on the tip of Agung. It’s lava! somebody shouted nearby. It was indeed – a small explosion on Mount Agung, erupting non-stop since November 2017, followed by a plume of smoke, billowing in the sky.
Shivers of happiness slid down my spine, and suddenly, that wake up call became worthwhile.
That was only the start of that wonderful show called sunrise. Mist floated into the valley, across the lake and around Mount Agung, surrounding it with an eerie haze.
Meanwhile, an orange glow slowly started to appear to the left of the mountain. It got more and more vivid, until the first rays of the day pierced through the haze – the sun was rising, and there was no better place to see it in Bali than the summit of Mount Batur.
After sunrise, we had time to trek around the crater of the volcano. Following the entire crater takes a further hour and a half, but as we were approximately half way in, clouds flooded the valley hiding all the views. Why bother going all the way around, we thought, and started heading down.
Trekking Mount Batur – Going Down
The descent from the summit of Mount Batur took about as much as going up. We hiked down on the ‘easier’ path, the one used by dirt bikes, as the ‘hard’ trail would have been too steep to follow.
We were all looking forward to the views, but sadly, clouds had rolled in and hid everything from sight – after having seen a live eruption, and a stunning sunrise, I guess you can’t have everything!
At about 9 am, we were all back in the car park, and started our journey back to our hotel in Seminyak.
If you want a little reward and you’re not ready to end your adventure quite so soon, why not opt for this Mount Batur tour including hot springs – there’s nothing quite like relaxing in a hot pool with views over Mount Agung to rest your tired legs and wrap up such a great experience!
What to Wear for a Mount Batur Sunrise Hike
We were told to cover up and wear lots of layers, as it tends to be cold all the way up and on the summit. Maybe we were lucky, but the temperature was around 15°C on the summit, and we were fine just wearing a fleecy hoodie – but for colder days, a windproof jacket will definitely help.
In any case, you’ll need to wear layers, as the temperature will start rising as soon as the sun comes up, so you’ll probably be hiking down just in your t-shirt.
In terms of footwear, we both hiked wearing trainers. I wore my TropicFeel shoes which were absolutely perfect all around Bali. We didn’t have hiking boots as this was the only hike we did in Bali, and trainers were absolutely fine. I wouldn’t risk hiking in flip-flops or sandals though.
Two other things you may want to take with you are a water bottle and a headlamp. A half-litre water bottle was included in the price of our Mount Batur trek, but we it wasn’t enough. Your guide will also provide flashlights for the hike up in the dark, but if you prefer to have your hands free, a headlamp will indeed be useful,
Best Time to Hike Mount Batur
It is possible to go trekking on Mount Batur year round, but the best time to get epic sunrise views is the dry season, between May and September.
During the wet season, especially during the rainiest months of December, January and February, the path may be muddy and slippery, and the summit of Mount Batur may be wrapped in clouds – meaning you’ll miss out on the views!
How Long Does it Take to Trek Mount Batur?
People in good physical conditions may expect to reach the summit in about 1 hour and a half/2 hours. Our group took 1 hour 15, because we took the steep ‘hard’ path and we were all fast hikers, and ended up being the first on the summit.
Hiking down takes about the same as going up, and if you opt to hike along the crater after sunrise, that will add another 1 to 2 hours to the total time of your Mount Batur trek.
How Hard is it?
Personally, I didn’t find hiking Mount Batur at all hard. Having said that, I am an experienced hiker, and I have done lots of similar treks in the past (Pic Boby in Madagascar and Mount Tai in China are just two examples), not to mention several multi-day treks (like Via degli Abati and Turgen-Ak Suu in Kyrgyzstan).
If you’re new to hiking, or not in good shape, you’ll probably find the hike to be challenging. My advice is to take it easy, and let your guide know – they’ll be able to adjust their pace and maybe even help you with your bag.
If it is really too much for you, or you’re not confident hiking up, fear not – it’s possible to cheat your way up! At the base, you’ll find locals offering rides on the back of their dirt bikes until a point just 15 minutes from the summit. Prices are quite steep at 600,000 IDR (about €40) for the return trip – but if you can’t, or don’t want to hike, it’s a good option.
How Much Does it Cost to Hike Mount Batur?
Sunrise Mount Batur trekking tours usually range in price between $40 and $50, including hotel pick up and drop off. All entry charges are included in your tour price.
Having said that, a guard in uniform stopped our car at a roadblock just before reaching the car park at the bottom of Mount Batur, and asked us all to pay a 15,000 IDR (less than €1) admission fee. Our driver seemed genuinely surprised, and the uniformed guard said it was a ‘new charge’.
We were all to sleepy to complain and since it wasn’t very much, we paid up – and were given printed tickets. Whether this new entry charge is legit or not, I have no idea. We recommend keeping some small change at hand just in case.
Is it Safe to Hike Mount Batur?
In our opinion, yes. The path was fairly easy, and when we got to rocky/uneven sections, our guide Putu was always happy to lend a hand (literally) to get past tricky spots.
Mount Batur is an active volcano, but recently it hasn’t been as active as Agung, which as of May 2019 was still erupting more or less daily. If there were dangers of Batur erupting, tours would be stopped instantly – so have fun, and don’t miss this wonderful sunrise hike experience!
Around the crater you’ll find dozens of monkeys – PLEASE DO NOT FEED THEM. Bali monkeys are so bold because that tourists routinely give them food, which causes them to associate the idea of people with food.
We’ve seen monkeys climbing all over people to snatch bananas or other kinds of food, and we’ve even seen a monkey open a backpack left lying on the floor and run off holding a Ziploc bag – with a passport in it! Try not to leave your belonging unattended around monkeys, and never, ever walk around them with food in your hands.
When Was the Last Eruption of Mount Batur?
The last time Mount Batur erupted was in 2000. Before that, it erupted in 1968 – as you reach the summit, you’ll see the lava fields from that eruption.
Where to Stay near Mount Batur
If you can’t even bear the thought of waking up quite so early, but still want to hike Mount Batur for sunrise, there’s another option!
There are plenty of places to stay in the vicinity of Mount Batur – staying there the night before hiking will grant you an extra two hours sleep, while still giving you time for a shower after your descent.
Here are some accommodation options for Mount Batur, for all budgets!
- Amerta Sari Hotel & Restaurant – traditional Balinese interiors and top volcano views in this upscale hotel near Mount Batur!
- The Ayu Kintamani Villa – the only real luxury option in the vicinity of Mount Batur, with Balinese-style deluxe villas, some even with private pools.
- Villa Jempana – great midrange option with rooms from €40, including an infinity pool with Agung views and excellent breakfast!
- Triangle House – perfect for budget travellers, accommodation is in cute A-frame huts just 5 minutes away from Mount Batur!
- N’Jung Bali Camp – another top budget option, travellers get to stay in a tented camp with barbecue near the lake. Perfect to chill before and after your hike!
- Songan Home Stay – wonderful option for those who want to learn more about Balinese culture while staying with a local family.
Many thanks to TripGuru for this wonderful experience!