Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
What comes to your mind if I say, “Bali?” Yeah I know, probably the beaches, diving, yoga, food, temples and parties? Am I right? Bali is super famous for all of these things. However, not many people think about the islands’ mountains and volcanoes. Is that because people just don’t want to do exercise on holiday? Well, if climbing a volcano to capture a fantastic sunrise sounds like your idea of a good time – it is my idea of a good time – then you will be interested in the dormant volcano of Batur. In fact, I will not only show you how beautiful Mount Batur is, but also how to arrange trip to go there for a lot less than the tour agencies charge.
Mount Batur is located in Kintamani – around one-hour from Ubud or 2 hours-ish from Kuta – and is very easy to find. When I arrived in Kintamani and saw Mount Batur and Lake Batur, it reminded me of Segara Anakan Lake in Mount Rinjani, Lombok. I found the landscape to be quite similar.
Mount Batur consists of three volcanic cones named Batur I, Batur II and Batur III (Batur III is the summit of the volcano). A lot of people around Kintamani say that Mount Batur used to be a lot larger than it is. The strength of past eruptions, however, had blown the volcano apart, so it is now smaller and wider than it once was (I actually checked on Wikipedia and discovered that Mount Batur has erupted more than 25 times since 1804). It left me wondering why so many people still live around Mount Batur, but then I remembered that I live in Yogyakarta :-/ Ha!
The first thing you will need to do if you want to climb Mount Batur is decide where to stay. There are two main choices. You can choose to stay around Ubud or Kuta, which is further away, but will give you more options of places to stay, or you can stay around Batur, which is closer, but with less options of places to stay. I would recommend staying in Batur, because if you are going to climb the mountain for sunrise, you will have to wake up at 3:30 a.m., so you won’t be getting much sleep. If you start from Kuta, you need to get ready before 2 a.m.!
Accommodation around Lake Batur is divided into two types: super basic hotels that cost around IDR 100,000 – 200,000 / night and cottage/lodge or hotels that will cost more than IDR 400,000 / night. Since I was climbing Mount Batur for the sunrise, I decided to stay around Lake Batur, which is just a 15 minute drive away from the base camp.
I stayed in Surya homestay, which was pretty basic and cost IDR 170,000 / night. The best hotel in town is Lakeview Eco Lodge, which costs IDR 600,000 / night. Although I didn’t stay there, I visited the cafe. This is well worth doing as they have nice coffee, great cakes, wifi (which was quite slow, but at least it worked) and a simply amazing view.
One of the things you need to know about if you want to climb mount Batur is the guide association. Mount Batur has a guide association. However, the hotels seem to use the guide association as an excuse to charge ridiculous prices for climbing the mountain! So here is a tip: Do not arrange a tour from your hotel if you are staying around the Lake Batur (they can charge up to US$55 per person). What I did was, I went to the Mount Batur base camp and arranged the guide from there.
At the base camp you can pay the admission fee, which is IDR 10,000. This is all the money you need to pay. That price is for Indonesians, but I am sure that for foreigners it wouldn’t be much different. You should get a ticket with the price stated on it. In my personal opinion, you should get a guide (IDR 100,000) if you climb for the sunrise, because you need to start climb at 4 a.m. Believe me, walking by yourself in the dark is not easy 🙂
If you are climbing during the day, then a guide is not really necessary. Oh, regarding the guide service fee, just think about how much they should get paid. If you are a group of four, then you can pay probably IDR 300,000 in total.
If you decided to stay around Kuta / Ubud, then you should add the transportation cost to this. You will probably end up paying around IDR 600,000 for the car. You can share this cost with your friends.
Travel agents around Kuta and Ubud usually have the sign “We need one more person to climb Batur tomorrow”. So look out for the sign and you can easily hop in.
The distance from the base camp to the summit is probably around 4-5 km. I managed to get to the summit around 5.45 a.m. (it should be an easy-medium trek if you are fit), so it took me around 1 hour and 45 minutes to do it. The track is dominated by rocks and along some parts it is pretty sandy.
The view is really nice and I think Batur has a very big caldera. You can see a lot of stuff around Batur from the summit. There is a cave, thermal spots (you can boil eggs or steam bananas there!) and a lot of monkeys! Relax though, monkeys around Mount Batur are not as fierce as the ones in Uluwatu.
I really enjoyed hiking Mount Batur and the sunrise! Check out more photos below to see how pretty Mount Batur is.
Do you fancy hiking a mountain in Bali? 😉