Mount Batur – Seeing the sunrise at the Top of the World

Mount Batur is located in the central mountains of Bali and is an amazing spot to watch the sun rise over the Island of The Gods. Jeff, an incredible photographer, and a group of his friends decided to trek 2 hours to the top to see what it's like to watch morning arrive 1,717 metres above the island.

Our trip began at 2am, which I must tell you was not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, getting up at that hour took some serious effort. We met our friends at Ubud Yoga Centre to get on the arranged bus ride to the Volcano. The bus was another annoyance as it was not comfortable at all with no AC. I’m not one to complain, but if you were on that bus ride, you’d be rolling your eyes and heaving a heavy sigh too.

On the way, the bus stopped at a warung unexpectedly, at least to me, to get breakfast. At 3am the last thing I want to do is eat, especially before going up a mountain, but most of the 10 people with us went in. There was no reason to make that stop except to sell some half-asleep foreigners food at an ungodly hour.

The volcano draws quite a few people to the site every day, so when we arrived around 3.30am there were already lots of vehicles in the lot – way more than I would have expected. We got off the bus, met our guide and started our ascent up the volcano.

Hiking Mount Batur

The hike starts on a fairly flat plane and our group seemed to keep a pretty fast pace. However, 30 minutes later I started to feel that “why am I doing this-feeling?”. Being dead tired in the first place doesn’t help of course, but if you don’t leave at that hour, you’ll miss the sunrise, which by the way is pretty spectacular.

I was carrying a backpack full of camera gear, which took its toll as we ascended, the terrain is steep and slippery and there are uneven surfaces with rocks and loose dirt.

We did rest on occasion, which I was more than happy to do. The first real stop where it leveled off was about 30 minutes from the summit. You have the option to stay there or continue to the top, but after expending that much effort there was no way I wasn’t going to the summit!

Reaching the top

Our group continued up and when we reached the top, it was more than a relief to say the least. It really felt like quite an accomplishment to me even though I’m sure to the hard core, it was easy as can be.

There are quite a few monkeys up there so don’t leave your back pack unattended or open if you have any near you, they’ll be sure and relieve you of any valuables, food and anything else they can get their hands on.

Resting at the top waiting for the sunrise you find some serenity and peace.Once you’re up you can marvel at the distant clouds and the sun that starts to rise through them in the most majestic way. The early wake up call and other small annoyances suddenly fall away.

I could have stayed up there for hours – beautiful scenery, good people and a camera in my hands. One of our friends trekked up with a hand pan (musical instrument) on his back and we were given even more of a treat as he started to play. It has a magical sound to it that just keeps you engaged on a spiritual level.

Going down

After about an hour we decided it was time to start our decent down. Going up is hard but going down is harder. It takes a toll on your legs at that point and by the time we got down and to the bus I was done, legs shaking.

We arrived home at 10am exhausted to my core and I could have slept for a week. After getting up that early my sense of time was thrown and it was tough to adjust for a couple of days. Saying this climbing Batur is an amazing adventure; the landscape, the workout, and the good friends I was with made it that much more incredible.

This is definitely something you should do when in Bali. It’s taxing on your mind and body, but totally worth it. Where else but Bali are you going to go hike up an active volcano and have the sun kiss your very soul?


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