Mount Batur: Sunrise from the top of a volcano

The ground was sliding beneath my feet, the darkness cloaking all of my senses. Time felt like it was standing still and nothing felt real but the rhythmic breathing deep in my chest. 

It felt as if my head had just hit the pillow and I was already willing myself out of bed. 

By 2:30am we were in the car, bumbling along the winding roads out of Ubud on our journey to Mount Batur.

Mount Batur is a live volcano, sitting in the north of Bali. It stands in the middle of two concentric calderas – where magma eruptions caused the ground to collapse forming crater-like sink holes. The peak stands at 5,633 ft above sea level and is renowned for the best views of the sunrise over the caldera lake. 

It was still several hours until sunrise and I knew we had a long way to go. Stepping one foot in front of the other was the only thing I was focused on. The paths snaking up the side of Mount Batur were loose stones and cooled lava, thankfully our guide Mangku had brought us some walking poles.

Eager to get to the summit and find a ‘good spot’, we overtook larger groups of hikers having to pace themselves to the slowest of the group. But when we did stop for water and looked up, the stars were so bright. Searching the skies for familiar constellations helped to distract from the hard work of the climb.

Once at the top Mangku gave us very clear and firm instructions not to stray from the path and to follow him exactly. He found us a nice little spot where we laid out a blanket then he disappeared to cook our breakfast in the steam vents. 

We waited for more people to join us, but they didn’t come. 

Since we pretty much raced to the summit it seemed like a long time until anything changed. Then as Mangku reappeared with large glasses of delicious hot milk and fruit, the black sky scattered with stars started to transform to inky blue, then pink before settling on orange. 

At that point we started to see why others hadn’t joined us. Perched right on the side of the volcano, between steam vents and sheer drops. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know where we were at first!

Across and along the path behind us was the main area people gather to watch the show. A very different story to where we were sat and I loved that. 

The views as the sun broke over the horizon were incredible. A village was revealed on one side of the narrow path as the cloud began to lift, and on the other side the lake started to reflect the growing light.

Mangku returned with a cooked breakfast of eggs, which was very much welcomed since the cocoon of our hot milk had faded. 

The guide from a near by tour had brought his guitar, and as we sat with our feet dangling over the edge, snacking on our breakfast, he played some chilled out acoustic covers. The perfect accompaniment to the incredible experience. 

Once the sun had established its place in the sky, we headed to the main area, where many had already vacated and were exploring the peak. 

Just a little note, there are no toilet facilities at the top of this volcano. If I were to do this hike again, I’d seriously consider having just one hot milk – no matter how cold I felt! There are also a lot of drones. I’m going to leave that story there. 

The ‘trek’ back down, was more like a slip and slide. We went the more popular route back since we took a quieter route to the top. It was like skating on shingle. People were falling over and continuing to slide down. Luckily we had our walking poles!!

After a couple of hours we finally reached the bottom, and were whisked away to the nearby hot springs at the foot of the volcano. 

Not quite what I expected, the purple elephants and chequered floors were certainly a world away from the ‘natural’ hot springs I had imagined. However the warm water helped us unwind and forget the aches from the climb, and the view across the lake to Mount Batur and Mount Agung soothed our souls.

It was barely 9am and we’d already achieved something extraordinary.

We booked on to the Mt. Batur Sunrise Trek & Natural Hot Spring with Mangku at Bali Trekking Tour. If you’re in Bali and like small group tours (it was just us) make sure you check them out here.

Thank you to Bali Trekking Tour for sponsoring our tour, however our options are always honest and our own.

Last modified: 27th August 2019

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