One of the reasons I wanted to travel to Bali was so that I could climb an active volcano, at night and see the sunrise at the top, eating boiled eggs cooked in the steam from the crater.
And so I did.
It was pretty amazing.
I was picked up at 2am by a driver and guide, and there were six other people in the mini-van, two couples and two women. We drove for an hour to Kintamini, where we stopped to have a quick light breakfast and toilet stop.
Then we drove 15 more minutes to the base of Mt Batur. It was packed – there were heaps of other tours getting ready; all huddled together by their flash lights and head torches. Despite being 2am in the morning it was still pretty mild; I had packed my raincoat in my daypack as I’d heard it was chilly at the peak.
After meeting our tour guide – a fairly old man named Ketut, we headed off into the darkness with only our flashlights and Ketut to guide us.
The climb is advertised as being fairly easy enough to do – if you can run 5km without stopping and getting stitches this climb should be no problem for you. Too easy, right?
After about 15 minutes there’s a significant sharp incline increase; this is made much worse by the fact that you’re hiking up volcanic rubble and not rocks like one may be used to. And it’s pitch black – you can only see what your flash light lights up.
I’m not going to lie, it was a strenuous climb. Our group were all pretty fit and only stopped twice briefly (I could’ve stopped for longer but at the same time I was quite keen to be done with it – it was hard!) We passed several other groups who were panting and struggling to get to the top – lots of young children and OAPs who were probably having the shock of their lives.
The last 30 minutes of climb to the top were horrendous – we were walking in the pitch black at a near vertical incline, climbing up ash. This meant your feet couldn’t really grip on to anything – imaging walking up a mountain with a sand path. At several points we had to use our hands and feet to stop us from toppling over backwards and down.
Our guide Ketut does this climb twice a day (sunrise and sunset) and he was climbing in the complete darkness – with no flashlight! He later told me he’d been guiding tourists up the volcano for ten years; he knows the route like the back of his hand, and would tell us where the best places to put our feet were. Thank goodness for Ketut!!
The climb took us about 1H45M as Mt Batur is only about 1700m in elevation. The view at the top was more than worth it.
I’m so glad I did this hike ’cause the sunrise was magnificent. The trek down was nothing short of terrifying but also exhilarating – seeing what I’d climbed in the dark was both something I was both proud of and left me mortified. There were sheer drops on either side during some points of the hike…I know I would’ve been absolutely bricking it had I been able to see my surroundings, so I’m pretty glad we did the sunrise trek.