Mt. Batur Hike
Loren and I have arrived in Bali! We spent almost 2 weeks in Malaysia primarily in the mountains, we followed that up with 4 amazing days in Singapore so we were craving some chill out time at the beach. We didn't do much the first couple of days after our arrival in Bali, our hotel was near Kuta beach so we spent our time laying on the beach, working on our tan, eating delicious food and relaxing. Tough life, I know. But as amazing as it sounds it becomes kind of boring after a few days so we decided to do something more adventurous and booked a trekking tour to an active volcano!
We decided to go with a tour once again, despite our reluctance to participate in organized tours solely because of traffic in Bali. First, traffic is terrible no matter what time of the day, second, Mount Batur, the volcano we wanted to hike was about 2 hours away and third, we needed a guide to take us regardless. We went with Bali Trekking Tour, thanks to Trip Advisor and the high rating they had on there. Since we chose them and got the private tour, it was a little pricey compared to what some of our friends and dorm-mates paid, we shelled out about $120 US for the trip with our own guide, private transportation, breakfast, and bottled water. You can definitely shop around and go to the travel/tour kiosks and negotiate if you don't mind being in a big group or taking a bus instead of a car. Luckily they had a last minute cancellation so we were set for an early departure the next day. Well… more like the same night, we got picked up at 1:40 am from our hotel. Needless to say we didn't get any sleep. We did try to go to bed around 9 pm but we ended up watching Netflix for a few hours….Damn you Orange is the New Black!
So, we left in the wee hours of the night, and then headed to Mt. Batur which took about 2.5 hours from Kuta despite the fact that it is only 80 km away. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, traffic in Bali is no joke even at 2 am. We were planning on getting a scooter once we got to Bali but seeing how bad the traffic was we decided against it. Not only that rush hour seems to be every hour of the day and night but lanes and general traffic rules seem to be basic “guidelines” to Balinese people. For example, on our way to the trek we were driving up a two lane road but somehow there were four rows of vehicles; one way streets are for losers because you can always drive the wrong way as long as you’re on the side walk; big buses and small alleys - no problem! You get the point. It’s a little disappointing because we really wanted to explore Bali on our own and not having transportation is a little restricting but for own safety it was definitely the smarter choice.
I keep getting side tracked… We arrived at the base of Mt. Batur at 4 am and we met with our guide Arbor (I am definitely butchering the spelling of his name). Arbor has been working as a trekking guide for about 2 years and he works six days a week. Six days a week he wakes up at 3 am, hikes 8 to 17 km a day, he guides not only on Mt. Batur (1771 m) but also Mt. Angung (3031 m). This guy is my hero, he was like a goat going up the mountain and he even said, “I am tired today.” I can only imagine how fast he goes if he isn't tired…
At 4 am it was pitch back so we had flashlights to guide us and the trek started off on a nice, paved road and later an easy pathway. At first, we were like, “Ok this is not bad at all!” but then the incline got steeper and trail got rockier and narrower. Arbor was great, offering us water and stopping for breaks whenever we needed it. To our delight, we seemed to be doing well and our little group was making great progress passing by other groups, some of which were pretty big - 10 or more people. We were really glad we chose a private tour and it was just the three of us and we didn't have to deal with anyone dragging behind or being too ambitious and going too fast. We made it to the sunrise point around 5:30 am with about 45 minutes to spare until sunrise. There were benches for us to sit on so Loren and I picked a spot to call home for the next 45 minutes and focused on staying awake and not freezing to death. The temperature at that time was around 15 degrees celsius, I know, I know - not technically freezing but we were sweating the whole way up while hiking so the drop in temperature seemed quite drastic once we sat down.
Unfortunately, a layer of thick fog came upon us so the chance of witnessing a beautiful sunrise was pretty slim. Despite the disappointing weather we were in good spirits, maybe because we were delirious due to sleep deprivation. While we were sitting on our little bench, freezing and hoping for a miracle weather change Arbor made us a delicious, warm breakfast; hard-boiled eggs and banana sandwiches, two ways. Yummy! We had never had warm banana sandwiches prior to this morning but they were really, really good. Once the sun came up we were able to take some pictures of our surroundings which even with the fog were stunning. Luckily, the clouds and the fog moved and left a little gap so we managed to see a tiny bit of a sunrise! As true tourists and instagram junkies we managed to snap a few photos!
Our next stop was a short walk down to a small opening in the rocks where we could see the steam coming out. It was so cool to see and feel the steam and heat from the volcano. Plus, it was nice being next to the warm steam after spending over an hour sitting on a bench in the freezing weather. We enjoyed the warmth for a moment, took an obligatory selfie and moved onto the next point.
Nearby there was another view point which was home to a large group of monkeys. At first, we saw one, then two and then within minutes we saw over twenty. They came to say hello, pose for photos and snag some food! We were able to see the alpha male, quite a few mothers holding their cute, little babies and everything in between. After spending a little time with these interesting little creatures, we went over to a huge cave that is used for ceremonies by the Balinese people. We weren't allowed to enter the cave as it is sacred and used only for ceremonies, but enjoyed hearing about the customs from Arbor.
The grand finale of things to see on this great trek was the volcano summit! Arbor asked us if we wanted to go up (probably hoping we would say no) but how can we miss out on making it all the way up to the top?! Isn't that why we went all the way there? Now getting to this last part of the hike was also the hardest… we were sore, tired and cold and the incline was almost vertical. We had to hike up rocks, gravel and deep layer of dirt but after 30 minutes we were finally atop the volcano! A 1771 meter high peak conquered! The view, the satisfaction of making it all the way to the top and the lack of sleep made it a great experience!
If you ever find yourself in Bali we strongly recommend doing the trek as it was an amazing experience. Besides the obvious benefits like seeing the stunning scenery and enjoying the sunrise, we simply loved going on a hike as it was a nice break of the routine. We have been traveling around SE Asia, visiting islands and coastlines primarily so being able to go hiking was a nice flashback to being home in Colorado.