One of the more adventurous things to do during a trip to Bali is to go hiking the volcanoes. Even those tourists who normally believe that holidays are purely for relaxing are sure to surprise themselves with just how enjoyable this type of trip can be. There are hiking options to suit people of almost any ability so this is certainly something worth checking out.
Bali is Part of the Ring of Fire
Bali is part of the ring of fire. This is a horseshoe shaped area that stretches from New Zealand all the way to South America. It covers 400,000 KM (248,548 miles). Within this area lies 75% of the world’s volcanoes, and this is how it gets its name. Many of these volcanoes are now dormant but plenty of them are still very much alive with the most active area being Indonesia. The most active volcanoes are to be found on Java but visitors to Bali can also get up close to these fiery giants.
Volcanoes in Bali
There are four main volcanoes in Bali which include:
- Mount Agung (Gunung Agung) is the highest point in Bali (3,142 meters above sea level) and it last erupted back in 1964 – that was one of the worst volcanoes eruptions of the twentieth century. It is known as a stratovolcanobecause of its shape and the fact that it was built up with layers.
- Mount Batur (Gunung Batur) is located northwest of Mount Agung, and it is an active volcano. It is almost half the height of Mount Agung so less of a challenge for novice climbers.
- Bratan (Buyan Bratan volcanic complex) can be found in north central Bali, and the volcanoes here are not believed to have erupted in hundreds of years. This is an area of stunning beauty that contains 3 lakes.
- Mount Merbuk is 1,386m above sea level and is situated on the western side of the island. It is found inside West Bali National Park.
Hiking Mount Agung
Mount Agung is probably the most challenging volcano in Bali to hike because of its height. Those who are out of shape might want to give this one a miss. This volcano plays an important part in local myths and traditions – the Balinese once believed that it was situated at the centre of the world. The respect that people have for this Mount Agung is demonstrated by the number of local temples in the area – in fact all temples in Bali face towards Mount Agung.
Those who wish to hike Mount Agung will need to hire a guide – this can be arranged at any of the local hotels. It is important to check beforehand because if there are any important religious ceremonies taking place the volcano will be closed to tourists. Strictly speaking all trekkers need to get permission from Besakih Temple before they commence their hike and make a donation – normally though this is all handled by the guides. There are four routes up the volcano to choose from. These hikes range in length from three hours to seven hours. There is also a northern route up the volcano that is more suitable for the novice climber. It is usually best to stay in one of the local hotels because after completing a hike most people want a comfortable bed. As well as hiking the volcano it is recommended that visitors devote some time to visiting the local complex of temples – there is a lot to see and a small town has grown around these religious sites. Besakih temple is considered the holiest place on the island.
Hiking Mount Batur
Mount Batur can be hiked by almost anyone so long as they are reasonably fit. The experienced hiker will be able to reach the summit in a couple of hours – those who are inexperienced should allow themselves twice that amount of time. There are some excellent views of the rest of Bali from the top of this volcano so visitors are advised to take along their camera. They will also want some shots of Danau Batur – this is the largest lake on Bali (it covers an area of 18 kilometers) and it dominates the south eastern side of the volcano.
Those who wish to hike Mount Batur will usually pick up a guide in the local town of Ubud. These treks tend to leave at 2 o’clock in the morning. It is advised that people haggle with the guides because they usually will try to overcharge. One of the great advantages of climbing Mount Batur so early in the day is that it will mean getting to be on the mountain for sunrise. Most tours will usually end with an egg breakfast that hikers cook themselves using the steam vents in the volcano.
Despite what the guides claim it is usually possible for tourists who are in good physical shape to make this trek alone. Those who do plan to travel without a guide are strongly advised to team up with other hikers so as to reduce risk.
Hike Bratan and Gunung Catur
Bratan is known as Bali’s lake district because of the 3 local lakes. This area is also considered to be one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the island. As well as the lakes and inactive volcano complex there is also waterfalls, local temples, markets, botanical gardens, and an adventure park. This is also home to one of the best golf courses on the island – Bali Handara Kosaido Country club. To get the most out of a visit to Bratan it is recommended that people stay locally. There are budget hotels to be found in the village of Candikuning. The hike up to Gunung Catur usually starts from Gua Jepang. It takes about three hours to reach the summit. Most people leave early in the morning so they can be on the peak for sunrise. It is recommended that people hire a guide in Candikuning if they wish to hike this volcano.
Hike Mount Merbuk
Mount Merbuk is part of the West Bali National Park. There is also another volcano here called Mount Patas. The park itself consists of 10% of the landmass of Bali. It offers a variety of flora and fauna and also includes Mount 3,200 hectares of coastal water along with coral reef. The entrance to West Bali National Park can be found at Cekik.
How to Prepare for a Volcano Hike in Bali
In order to prepare for a volcano hike in Bali it is recommended that people:
- It is unlikely that any hiker will be caught out be an erupting volcano in Bali, but it is still advisable to always check the latest situation for any proposed trek.
- For many of these hikes it is best to start in the early morning and aim to be back a few hours after sunrise. This will mean that heat will be less of an issue, and viewing the sunrise from on top of a volcano can be the most memorable part of the trip.
- It is important that people bring along plenty of water or ensure that their guide will be able to provide this.
- Many of the organized treks come with a free breakfast, but it is still a good idea to take along some food.
- The guides can be quite pushy, but it is probably best to negotiate with a few of them before making any decision. It is unlikely that the first guide that people come across will be offering the best price.
- When it comes to hiking volcanoes the most important things can be choosing the right shoes. Proper hiking boots are recommended – particularly for the more challenging routes like Mount Agung.