View of Mount Batur

Mount Batur – Sunrise trek on the Balinese volcano

Indonesia is famous for it’s volcanoes and Bali is home to a few of them. It is Mount Batur this post looks at. A trek up here to see the sunrise is a popular excursion for those visiting the island. Its a rewarding one too, giving spectacular views across the local area. 

Mount Batur (aka Gunung Batur) is one of 4 sacred mountains on the island of Bali. The Balinese people follow their own form of Hinduism and have legends about the volcano. It is an active volcano and has erupted several times over the past couple of centuries. The summit is 1,717 metres high and there are several craters in the area of the volcano. As well as the main crater that you can visit as part of a trek to the summit you can also look across over Lake Batur.

A plaque marking the summit height on Mount Batur
Marking the summit height on Mount Batur

Trekking up Mount Batur for sunrise can be very rewarding. As long as it’s not too cloudy you get an excellent view of the sunrise and the surrounding area. This is why the trek is so popular with visitors to Bali, and regarded as one of the top things to do here.

How to do the Mount Batur trek

You can only do this trek with a local guide. The locals around the volcano will actively stop anyone attempting to do it themselves. There are 2 main reasons for this.

The first is that the income from trekking is vital for the local economy, so it’s not something they are willing to loose. Bali is very much a tourist focused island after all.

The second is that the trek can be dangerous. The rocks can give way, meaning danger both of someone slipping and of rocks hitting someone as they fall The local guides are aware of this and will help guide you up and down there path to ensure your safety and that of the other climbers. And also given that Mount Batur is an active volcano there is danger of gas vents. That is why going with a local guide who knows the safe routes is essential.

All the trekking guides belong to the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides. The guides will stop on the way up the mountain to observe a religious ritual. It takes a few minutes and is part of the trek, so don’t worry if you feel rushed to get up for sunrise.

The best time to do the trek is during the dry season. This is between April and September. If you want to do it at another time be sure to check on the weather forecast for the day, And check with the local guides as to whether conditions are safe.

Mount Batur sunrise trek
I really enjoyed the Mount Batur sunrise trek

Coming from Ubud

Pretty much every tour agency in Ubud will offer a sunrise trek to Mount Batur. Pick up is usually between 2am and 2:3am by mini van. This will then take you to the site, where your group will meet your guide. You will normally be given breakfast as part of this. The companies understand it’s important for you to have the energy to do the trek. Afterwards you will be dropped back in Ubud.

If your staying in a hostel or guesthouse in Ubud it’s highly likely they have a company they work with. Or sometimes several! Booking your trek this way is a good way to ensure pick up from your accommodation. When I did the trek I did through Kayuni Hostel, and everything went as promised.

It is also possible to do the trek from Kuta. But as I have no personal interest in ever going to Kuta, I haven’t looked into the details of this. Besides Ubud is a cool place to visit, so I recommend it as a good base to use for this trek.

Staying in the area

Kintamani is the names given to the local area around the Mount Batur volcano. It is also the name of one of the villages, and you can find accommodation around here. Toya Bungkah village is the start point for the trek up the volcano. The aforementioned Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides have their office here.

You can either book a guide beforehand or go with one on the day. But as mentioned, you will be prevented from going without a guide. From what I’ve heard if you go with a trekking company booked beforehand you are more likely to get a guide who will interact with you more on the journey.

How tough is the trek?

This isn’t an easy walk. If you climb mountains regularly you might find it standard enough, but for everyone else it can be quite challenging at points. But it’s not super tough either. The walk up takes around 2 hours in total and is fairly steep. Its a busy route and your group will likely be one of many. So expect to be in a line at some point, and on occasion you will stop to rest whilst other groups pass. And vice versa.

As mentioned you should get breakfast included with your guide. I recommend taking plenty of water and some energy snacks too. It can be quite cold up the mountain, so its worth wearing trouser length bottoms and taking a jacket. Footwear I do not recommend flip flops. There are lots of loose rocks and it can be slippery at time. Trainers with some grip are fine.

The sunrise view from Mount Batur

When I did this trek I was fortunate to have get great weather conditions, and the view was spectacular. Obviously it’s unpredictable as to what the conditions will be like for you if you decide to do this trek. Hopefully they will be as good as I experienced!

Sunrise view from Mount Batur on bali
The sun rises

Exploring the summit

After sunrise you can take a look around the summit area with your guide. You can look into the crater and learn about local traditions relating to this. Ask your guide for information about the Balinese Hindu traditions and stories regarding Mount Batur.

Looking out over the local area

As well as sunrise there are some nice sites to view around the area. Most notably Lake Batur and the black lava field. The former is a crater lake, formed in a caldera as a result of a previous eruption. The black lava field is a result of a previous eruption on Bali in 1964. You get a really good view over these in particular as you head back down from the summit.

View walking down Mount Batur. Lake Batur on the left. The black lava field on the right.
Lake Batur on the left. The black lava field on the right.

In summary…

Trekking up Mount Batur for sunrise was one of my highlights of visiting Bali. Its something I highly recommend for anyone visiting the island. I understand that some backpackers take issue with the fact that you have to do this trek with a paid for guide. But given the safety issues of trekking up an active volcano I think it’s something you just have to accept. The trek is busy and you will see a lot of other people making the same journey. But as Bali is such a touristic island again this is just the reality of the situation.

Personally I didn’t mind the crowds. I knew they were going to be there an actually they weren’t too bad. My groups guides took us up and around at a good pace, with plenty of time to enjoy the views and take photos. They were also happy to chat and answer questions about the area. I particularly enjoyed the views the trek offered and begin able to see the crater at the top of the summit.

As you make your way down from the summit be sure to turn around and have a look at the volcano. This is how I got the photo that I have used as the featured image for this post. Thanks for reading and I hope I have inspired you to visit Mount Batur!

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Mount Batur - Sunrise trek on the Balinese volcano

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