Major jump-0ff: Toya Bungkah, Kedisan, Bali
LLA: 8.242° S 115.375° E, 1717 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 3-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
Features: Volcanic sand, night trek
One of the famous mountains of Indonesia, particularly of the famed island of Bali, is Gunung Batur. An active volcano, Gunung Batur has an explosive history, last erupting in 2000. This level of volcanism is manifest in the topography of the mountain – including its namesake Danau Batur, the largest lake in Bali.
Aside from its geologic noteworthiness, Batur is also a sacred volcano, next only to the nearby and much higher Gunung Agung in the hierarchy. Its name means “Mountain in the Depths” – and it is little wonder that some climbers have compared it to Frodo and Sam’s trek up Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. Bali is a deeply cultural island, with its strong Hindu tradition (in contrast with the Indonesia where a majority are Muslims).
The most common route to Gunung Batur is via the village of Kedisan, where locals also serve as guides. At first the trail is forested, then it will be almost just grass and the volcanic sand. You will have to do some scrambling to negotiate your way through this, much like Mt. Fuji and Mt. Mayon closer to home. Along the way, you will also be passing by fumaroles and
At the summit, the sunrise is spectacular. Steam effuses from the rocks – lending strength to the yet-faint warmth of dawn. There is a mountain hut which serves tea. There you can view the nearby towns and villages; Danau Batur lies SE and Gunung Abang, another high mountain, lies opposite. The archipelagic seas of Indonesia lie north while the vast Indian ocean lies south. There are of course superb views of the barren landscape with its bizarre lava formations, the valley below and Gunung Abang on the opposite side of the crater.
On the way back you will see the trail for the first time. The same sandy volcanic trail that you had to scramble – now the fun begins as you can free fall on some sections of the trail, letting your shoes slide down the sand for hundreds of meters. A mountain hut halfway is a place to rest – and here is a good time to interact with monkeys that hang out just outside – perhaps waiting for some food from the climbers; perhaps just seeking attention. The crowd is international, and you may also want to interact with them.
Back at the jumpoff, check out the sulphuric springs at the village. If you are on a package tour then such a bath, plus a hearty Indonesian lunch, is included. Other sidetrips include a visit to the temples of Gunung Agung – and even a climb of Agung itself if there is no volcanic activity.
South of the equator, Gunung Batur is a truly remarkable climb that complements a visit to the other wonders of the enchanted island of Bali.
0100 Take service from Denpasar to Kedisan jumpoff
0200 Start trek
0530 Arrival at Gunung Batur summit; await sunrise
0630 Start descent at leisurely pace
0700 Sandslide down the mountain slopes
0800 Arrival at mountain hut; rest
1000 Back at jumpoff; proceed to hot springs
1300 Head back to Denpasar
Being an active volcano, sometimes it may be forbidden to climb Gunung Batur, so check with your hotel staff and tour operators whether this might be the case. The other climb in Bali which follows a nearly similar itinerary is that of Gunung Agung , home of the massive Pura Besakih temple complex and one of the top 10 highest mountains in Southeast Asia.
Logistics. You can book a tour with your hotel in Bali. The trip when translated to local currency is around P2000.
Climbing notes. Mt. Batur is manageable but even then there are some steep parts. Guides have flashlights but it’s good to bring your headlamp when going to Bali since the other climb, Gunung Agung, also involves night trekking. As for clothes, normal dayhike gear plus a windbreaker will do the trick. Make sure you have comfortable shoes (doesn’t have to be heavy duty) that can deal with the sand.
The blogger climbed Gunung Batur on April 6, 2005 with his father – his first climb abroad. The account was published as Hiking Matters #18: Hiking in Bali.