Mount Batur summit hike


The warmth of Bali we’d known for the past week turned into an icy chill that cut through our thin jumpers. The beads of sweat pierced through the heat of our fatigued bodies as we cautiously watch our footing over the slippery shale. There are points when we are on our hands and knees feeling for the next foothold as our local guide pulls us up the rocky mountain. The only light to guide us is that of our Kmart head torches and the stars above us. 

Three hours ago we were fast asleep in our luxury Ubud villa, now it is 4am and we are a third of the way up Mount Batur, an active volcano in the North East of Bali.

We started the ascent at 2.30am with the intention of reaching the 1,717m summit by sunrise. We met our guide, Ketutt at the base of the mountain in a small village. The start of the two and a half hour hike was a nice stroll through a forest. The forest opened to reveal a sky packed full of stars. This was the start of the hurt! 

The next hour felt like five! The forest was far behind us and the peak was a long way ahead of us. We’d stop for a break every few minutes, I kept making the mistake of looking at my watch, asking myself how much longer to go.  I think we said all of ten words to each other as we scrambled up the steep, bare mountain. The higher we got, the colder it got! 

When we reach the summit, a thick blanket of cloud had rolled in, smothering any hope of me shooting some astro whilst on the summit. Ketutt had told us to get comfortable in one of the makeshift shelters as he prepared a warm tea while we waited. Sunrise was still about 40 minutes away.

We watched as the area filled with tired tourists. As first light started to break Ketutt came and slipped us away from the crowds, to a higher, but more dangerous outcrop. He said it would make for the best photos on the mountain if the clouds cleared, though our chances were slim as yesterday there was a lot more cloud than normal and the views weren’t great.

I set up my camera on the tripod and waited. As the sun came up, the clouds started to moved and part, creating long gaps. It reminded me of standing next to a creek watching the water run around the rocks. There would be gaps, where we could just see the rest of the climbers 50m in front of us, then nothing but cold wet air. The higher the sun rose, the thinner the clouds became, until finally there, in the distance was Mount Aung, Bali’s highest mountain at 3,000m. What a view!  

We hung around the summit for an hour before heading back down.  The walk back wasn’t as tough as the way up but it did put a lot of pressure on the knees and ankles, especially carrying all my camera gear. 

The trek to the peak of Mount Batur was one of the highlights of our Bali holiday. I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to get off the beaten track and away from the tourist traps in Kuta and Ubud.

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