Climbing a Volcano: Mount Batur

While on a day tour around Bali we visited the Kintamani national park and were rewarded with some amazing views of Mount Batur, a 1717m high active volcano that sits inside the massive caldera. So now we had planned to hike up the mountain to watch the sunrise from the summit.

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The start time is a pick-up from our villa in Seminyak at 1.30am and its a 2 hour drive to the Kintamani National Park. Now just a few hours earlier I had a few bintangs (indonesian heineken) throughout the night; on the beach, playing pool, swimming in our pool and the car ride to the base of the mountain was quite bumpy. By the time we met our guides in town near Lake Batur I felt super queasy and wanted to throw up in the toilets.

The feeling went away for a little while and we started making our way to the base of the mountain, we could only barely make out the silhouette of the volcano as it was nearly complete darkness and we had to find our way up with flashlights. The level ground soon became a gradient and then a little incline as we made our way through the forest. We had been wearing jumpers and jackets but by about 30mins in we were huffing and all sweaty and stripped down to just our shirts. This was not going to be easy. Not long after we made our way higher and eventually we cleared the treeline and finally could see out over the Lake and catch a glimpse of Mount Agung, the biggest volcano and mountain on the island – this bad motherfucker is 3031m tall.

Not long after the queasiness from the motion sickness got to me and I threw up all over the side of the mountain – not a pretty sight or sound. I felt like absolute shit by this point but I was still determined to make the summit, so on we went. The slope gets steeper and steeper and the terrain more rocky and treacherous as it is covered with uneven and loose volcanic rocks. By this point my legs are starting to give out a little. My cardio isn’t nearly what it used to be and I end up throwing up again – can’t blame the motion sickness this time. I had slowed down so much the rest of the group had already gone ahead and I considered giving up right here and just watch the sunrise from here and head back down later.

But I had not come all this way for second-best views. With a little help from the guides I pushed on and made it to the top just in time for the sunrise. The view is absolutely breathtaking.

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The cooler air up here is quite refreshing but it can get a little chilly, so we head down to the hot steam rocks where the guides cook us our breakfast with the volcanic heat. It feels just like a sauna and feels amazing sitting in the warmth outside of the cold. Holy shit we are actually sitting in a volcano sauna right now. After breakfast (volcano baked banana and hard-boiled eggs) the guide tells us about the history of the volcano and its eruptions as we head around the ridge to the other side of the volcano to head back down.

As we head back down we use another route that is covered in black volcanic sand and so it makes for an awesome experience sliding down the mountain – would have been perfect if we had sandboards! As we look back up from the base of the volcano, the peak is covered in steam/clouds. We fucking did it, we climbed an active volcano!

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