In the middle of the night, our van which was to drive us to Mount Batur, an active volcano with 1,717m elevation in Bali, Indonesia, arrived to pick us up at our villa.
In the darkness, at 3+am or earlier, my friends and I arrived at the foot of the mountain. Wayan, the guide who will lead us up the mountain, handed out torchlights for better visibility. Our way up will take a few hours.
We’re trekking Mt Batur to catch the sunrise today.
At that time, I’d never been one with an active lifestyle. The hike up Mt Batur turned out to be nothing short of challenging – steep steps and very trying for me, us extending hands towards one another for an additional lift, taking care not to stumble.
Also, the higher we went, the more cold it got. It was unfortunate for me that I happened to be nursing a cold and the air was getting too thin. I was sniffling, coughing, and having difficulty inhaling properly, and somewhat panicking inside of me, wondering if I’ll be delaying my friends, or if I’ll die or faint or roll down this mountain. Wayan passed me his thick shawl to wrap around myself.
The worst part wasn’t about the coughing or the weather, but my shoes..
I was wearing an old pair of Puma sneakers that haven’t been worn for a long time, thinking that they’ll suffice. Obviously, I’d underestimated the hike / overestimated the durability of my shoes.
Halfway trekking upwards, the sole of one shoe came off. Thankfully it was dark all around and the embarrassment on my face could hardly be seen. Also, at that time, Mt Batur wasn’t too popular so there wasn’t a line of hikers behind me. I abandoned that sole and we continued on our way, me praying silently that these shoes will last me the whole of this mountainous activity, but knowing deep inside that they won’t.
Before we even reached the peak, the other sole came off too, goodness!
Once we reached the summit and could finally sit down for a rest, Wayan whipped out glass bottles of Coca-cola from his bag to sell us at 50,000 rupiah/bottle. Exorbitantly priced indeed, but you’ll find no convenience store anywhere on Mount Batur. It sure must be no mean feat for him to be trekking up the mountain alongside us, carrying a heavy backpack, and also making sure the group stays safe.
The sunrise was quite pretty, a peaceful, quiet scene as the sky lits up. If only it wasn’t that cloudy. In awe (and as for me, trying to minimize my breaths because each inhalation makes my throat itch to cough, also in wonder when I can go down and breathe normally again), we quietly watched the scene below of us.
Nearby, we explored the crater, marvelling at the smoke emitting from various spots. Mt Batur is, after all, an active volcano (it last erupted in year 2000).
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Using the ‘toilet’ at Mount Batur
The soil on the top of Mount Batur is black, due to it being a volcano. Being a mountain, naturally, there were no toilets up at the summit. We had to take turns to duck behind/under a kind of mat-curtain near to the hut to squat and do our number 1. There’s a first time for everything indeed.
Descending Mt Batur
The descent down Mt Batur was even more challenging than the ascent.
We really had to watch our steps and come down slowly. During the descent, the stitches at the bottom of my shoes were breaking off and the inner soles couldn’t be contained much longer. At this rate, I’m gonna be walking barefooted down the mountain in no time, my shoes nothing more than pink canvas wrapping the top and sides of my feet. Can you imagine the embarrassment if that was to happen?!? I was mortified!
Once I reached flat ground at the foot of Mt Batur, I was literally dragging the remnants of my shoes with me. My friends were caught between finding the whole thing hilarious yet empathizing with me. On hindsight, it was indeed hilarious because this shoe incident was just so ridiculous. I was just super glad we went straight back to our hotel after leaving Mount Batur!
Trekking up Mt Batur for the sunrise was an experience I’ll never forget, because I can tell others that I nearly ‘died’ at different times to ascend this mountain! It’s also an experience that I’ll never try again. Even when I now see the most incredibly beautiful images of Mount Batur that others share on Instagram, I know that one time of hiking this mountain is more than enough, thank you.
I prefer to watch Mount Batur from far the next time. Or just do an easy hike at Campuhan Ridge Walk.
What to know before you go trekking at Mt Batur for sunrise:
- Wear the right shoes, either hiking shoes or running shoes at least.
- We booked this tour but I have no details as it was arranged by my friend.
- This activity is not safe for young kids. The ground is uneven, rocky and inclination is steep.
- Mount Batur is at a height of 1,717m.
- You need a decent level of fitness to do this activity.
- The air can get very thin as you hike up. Stay mindful of your breathing and take a break when necessary.
- It gets cold, especially when you hike further up. Wear layers which you can put on or remove accordingly.
- There are no shops nor toilets up on the mountain, so we were famished byt the end. My experience is as of 2009 (sorry!), so your tour company might have different arrangements for snacks, or else you can simply bring your own.
- A perfect view is not guaranteed – it depends on the weather.
- There are craters at the summit. Watch your step (a tourist died falling into one )
Have you hiked up Mount Batur before? How was your experience like?