i decided to do this hike the second i saw my brother’s photos from his trip. it should say something that the images alone convinced me. located in central bali, gunung batur is one of several active volcanoes on the island. the hike involves a 2am wake-up call to start the hike at 4am. you arrive at the top in time to watch the sunrise, above the clouds, with a view of another volcano (of course!)
hiking in the dark you have little sense of where you are, but once you clear the clouds you literally feel like you can touch the stars. halfway through the hike there is a temple where the guides make offerings and pray (its believed by the balinese to be a holy mountain). from there you can see a trail of flashlights up ahead, straight up the side of the volcano. no switchbacks here, its a scramble to the top.
the thing nobody mentions is that hiking up a volcano in the pitch black at 4am is slightly terrifying. the guides were holding our hands and practically dragging us up the mountain half the time (talk about an exercise in trust!) its all worth it though once you get to the top and see the view. it made me understand childbirth: you forget how horrible it is once its over. i’ve definitely never been happier to see daylight.
we took an alternate route back down and explored the different calderas and peaks of the volcano. definitely take your guide up on an offer to explore on your way down, there’s even monkey’s hanging around.
the hike takes two hours each way, with lots of breaks. we booked the trip from our hotel so they coordinated a car for us, booked our guide and took care of the fees. you can also book your own car and get a guide when you arrive at the base of the volcano, and they’ll usually have flashlights you can use. you’re kinda forced into using a guide, and after doing the hike i understand why. be sure to bring snacks, water and layers (its chilly at the top!) there are snacks and refreshments available at the top as well, and if you bring uncooked eggs the guides will cook them for you on the steam from the volcano.
this is one of those life changing experiences that is almost too incredible to explain. if ever you get this opportunity, take it (or go out of your way to make it happen!)