Mount Batur is an active volcano located in the Northeast Bangli Region of Bali., approximately 70 kilometres from Denpasar City.
It is an extremely popular destination for tourists wanting to see perhaps the most breathtaking sunrise on the island (weather permitting).
I must admit, I'm not usually the type to participate in the typical "tourist traps" like this one, but curiosity got the better of me on this day and we decided to commit ourselves to a ridiculous 1.30 am wake up time (we'll get to that later) to see what all the fuss is about.
I will say it was worth the lack of sleep, and extremely tough ascent up the mountain to get to see the island from a whole new perspective, not to mention the stunning sunrise.
However, there were a few things I wish i had known before we did the hike, in this article, i'm going to be sharing 5 things to know before hiking Mount Batur.
1. Do you need to be physically fit to hike Mount Batur?
Short answer, yes.
Now I'm not exactly in peak physical condition myself, I'm 36 years old and wouldn't say I have ever trained hard enough at anything to call myself an athlete.
However I am in reasonable condition, I'm not overweight, I don't smoke and only drink alcohol moderately. I do yoga and I go to the gym 3 to 4 times a week for cardio and like to think I have a reasonably healthy diet.
But I honestly struggled more than I expected, it probably didn't help that we were worried about missing the sunset and hiked the mountain in almost record time (according to our guide).
The 2-hour hike up Mount Batur is steep and at some points, you will climb over rocks and use the walking stick to keep sure footing.
It's also important to remember that at the top of the mountain you will be 1,717 metres above sea level, which will make you feel even shorter of breath than usual.
2. Is it Cold at the top?
Not really, but I am biased as I come from Melbourne, Australia and have spent a lot of my adult life in the Canadian Rockies.
So 17 Degrees Celsius doesn't faze me, however, when we did the climb there was not much wind at all and I have a feeling the wind chill could drop the temperature by a few degrees at the top.
We were warned by some of the locals that it would be "freezing" cold and that we should dress warm, but I have a feeling most of the locals have never experienced a northern Alberta winter before.
I did, however, have to put my track pants on when we got out of the car at the base, when you arrive at the base of the mountain it's usually between 3-4 am which is generally the coldest time of the day anyway.
And you're already in the coldest region of Bali, given that Lake Batur sits over 1000 metres above sea level, so yes I would suggest long pants if you're not used to the cold, but it's not essential because if you're anything like me and you're prone to sweat, you'll be stripping down to shorts pretty early in the hike.
3. How early do you need to wake up?
This depends on where exactly on the island you're staying, Mount Batur is around a 2-hour drive from Kuta/Seminyak area, and will you need to allow for a 2-hour hike up the mountain before the sun comes up between 5.30 am-6.30 am.
When we did the hike we were staying in Ubud which is in central Bali and only about an hour from Batur, but it was in December and sunrise was a bit earlier (5.45 am). So we had to leave our villa at 2am which meant a 1.30 am wake call.
I'm usually a morning person anyway, but knowing I had to wake up at 1.30 am made it almost impossible to sleep the night before, so I was running on fumes the whole way up the trek.
If you are going to commit to the hike it might be a good idea to stay somewhere close to the mountain as there is a lot of options for accommodation, that way you can get a good night's rest before doing the hike.
4. What to bring on the hike?
There are a few items that you will need to bring with you however you don't need to worry if you forget any of these as there are shops both at the top and the middle of the hike, just beware that prices are inflated for obvious reasons.
- Water - It's a good idea to bring your own water, 1.5 litres per person is probably enough, although the hike up is quite hard and you will need a few drink breaks the walk down is relatively easy and you probably won't even have time to stop for water (it took us about 20 minutes to walk down).
- Bug spray/lotion - Although our guide reassured us that the mosquitoes that were biting us weren't the dangerous kind, you have to remember that you're walking through a tropical jungle in Bali. So if you're at all concerned about mosquito-borne viruses like we are (check out our video on contracting dengue fever in Bali here), then it's a good idea to come prepared.
- Rain jacket/poncho - We were very lucky with the weather when we climbed the mountain, not only did we not get any rain but we were able to get a clear view of the sunrise from the top which was amazing, however, if you're not so lucky it would be a much tougher hike if you're soaking wet from the rain.
- Breakfast - As mentioned there are shops on the mountain but don't expect to get any fancy meals, we were offered a cup of noodles and a coffee for 100,000 IDR, but luckily we came prepared and brought our breakfast sandwiches. You will have plenty of time to sit and eat at the top while you wait for the sunrise (just be careful of the monkeys, they've been known to snatch food).
- Camera - This one goes without saying, especially because almost everyone has a smartphone attached to them these days, but it would seem like a waste of time to get up the mountain only to realise you left your camera at home, although the pictures don't do it justice, it still makes for a breathtaking photo when the sun is coming up.
5. Is it worth it?
If you've made it this far you're probably wondering is it even worth waking up at 1.30 am, to spend two hours hiking up a mountain in the dark, getting eaten by mosquitoes and physically exhausting yourself?
In my opinion, yes it's worth it. Not only is the view breathtaking, the feeling of being at one of the highest points in Bali overlooking the entire island is a one of a kind experience.
When you reach the top you will quickly forget just how physically (and even mentally) tired you are and appreciate the fact that you pushed yourself to get up early do something that a lot of people would just as easily say no to.
The hike down is also very enjoyable and easy, and if you're like us you can visit one of the neighbouring hot springs to recover and soak it all in while enjoying a delicious breakfast.
I think all in all the experience, and the chance to see a different side of Bali is something we would highly recommend to anyone wanting a unique experience in Bali.