Hiking is one of my favorite activities. Always enjoy it especially if the landscape and surroundings are beautiful. Now, hiking up a volcano? That’s even more exciting for me!
I’ve been traveling Bali with a friend who also loves hiking, so when I got in contact with Withlocals to try one of their experiences, I knew hiking would be the top choice for us. Withlocals focuses on connecting travelers with locals through food and experiences. Withlocals only operates in Southeast Asia at the moment, so for us, it was perfect to try it during our stay in Bali. After some browsing on their site, we agreed that doing the “Bali Active Volcano Sunrise Trekking” tour with Didi (the local) would be the best for us.
After booking online I got in contact with Didi, and we messaged back and forth through the Withlocals platform to schedule the date and pick up time. This hike is usually done at night, to be able to enjoy the sunrise from the top of the volcano, so our pick up was painfully scheduled for 2:00 am.
Didi showed up at our hotel with Putu, our local guide who took us up the Batur volcano. We were staying in Seminyak, a popular tourist area in the south of Bali, and the ride to the starting point of the hike took us 2 hours – which passed really fast as we slept the whole way on the back seat of the car!
This hike is fairly easy and it takes about 1 ½ hours to get to the top. The cold can be a bit of an issue here as it gets freezing up there, but it feels warm at the beginning of the trail and you also start sweating a bit once you’re hiking. In these cases, I guess a good way to manage is to layer up: bring a long sleeves shirt, a sweater, and a jacket. Peel like an onion and get comfortable as you go!
As we hiked up, we started to feel small pockets of warm air coming out of the ground. This clearly told us that this is actually an active volcano!
We managed to reach the top of the volcano while it was still dark, so we had some time to relax to see the sunrise. Putu cooked us some breakfast while we patiently waited for the sun to come – sandwich and boiled eggs with coffee/tea, basic but great! It was quite cloudy and misty by the time the sun showed up. At first, it seemed like we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the sunrise at all, but the sky slowly cleared up enough to unveil this amazing scenery below us, with Lake Batur and Mount Abang!
An interesting fact is that the lake is actually part of the caldera of Batur. Putu explained to us that it was a massive volcano in the past, measuring more than 3,800 meters above sea level, and became what we see now after a cataclysm that exploded the top of the mountain – forming Mount Batur on the west, Mount Abang on the east, and Lake Batur between them.
On the way down we visited a “steam cave”, near one of the seven active calderas of Mount Batur – the heat coming from the volcano boils the water beneath and it comes back as steam. Although that can be better seen in this cave, as I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon to see other smaller holes on the ground with steam coming up during the trail.
Be aware that at this spot many monkeys gather around to “welcome” hikers and their breakfast leftovers! Of course, I had to interact with them by giving them part of my sandwich.
Walking down the trail we could see a huge black lava field, which was the remaining of the 1968 eruption – the last major eruption of this volcano. Putu told us many people died when that happened as a considerable amount of lava was released, heading down to a village in the footsteps of Batur. Doing these type of hike not only take you to some stunning places, but they are also excellent to learn about Bali’s culture and history!
The hike down was naturally much easier and quicker. So after leaving the volcano for good, we enjoyed the views of it, now from below and with daylight. It’s good you don’t see the volcano when you reach at night, otherwise, it would feel like a much longer hike!
After concluding our hike, we headed to a hot spring to relax in naturally warm water pools – courtesy of the Batur volcano! Didi and Putu were very flexible with the time spent around and gave us complete freedom to decide when to leave the hot spring. We spent a good amount there. It was quite relaxing.
The tour also included lunch in a local restaurant and Luwak coffee tasting in a Luwak farm on the way back to Seminyak. If you’re not familiar with this particular type of coffee, you might want to get informed before taking on the challenge: it is produced with coffee beans after they have been eaten – and defecated – by Asian palm civets, a cat-like animal native to Southeast Asia. Yummy.
I’m not a fan of coffee, but my friend is, so he took the task of drinking it. I stayed with the Lemongrass tea, which was very delicious too.
The ride back to the hotel was almost non-existent for us. Naturally, after hiking in the middle of the night, swimming in the hot spring, lunch, and coffee/tea; we were ready to sleep like there was no tomorrow. We were tired but happy about our experience.
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This experience was made possible through a collaboration with Withlocals, but as always, all the opinions in this post are my own.
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