Climbing Mount Batur in Bali

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“Make yourself comfortable, it long ride,” said the driver, in his best English, as we squeezed in the van filled with four other passengers who were already crammed up together. After some switching around, and perhaps some magic, we made six people fit into the backseat and trunk together with luggage. Writes Jazz Dobbins

There it was, the start of what I hoped to be an incredible experience. A friend and I decided to climb one of Bali’s active volcanoes, Gunung Batur, which in English translates as Mount Batur.

The road to Mount Batur

Not all of the passengers in the van were going to Mount Batur. Lucky for us some got out halfway, giving us space to finally move our legs after three hours of them being folded like origami masterpieces. Maybe it was a sign I should start doing some yoga to become more flexible?

Now left with three people in the van, we began the second half of the drive up to Mount Batur, which was still two more hours away. Before we got back on the road again, our driver told us that he forgot his phone at home and that we would have stop by his house to get it. Now that I had the space to move around and get in a comfortable position, it did not take long before I fell asleep.

Awakened by my head hitting the car window, we arrived at our driver’s village. The road was uneven, making the car shake from left to right. Even awake, I kept hitting my head against the window. After ten minutes of feeling like one of those bobble heads the driver had in the van, we came to a stop in front of his house. He quickly ran in the house to grab his phone, giving me time to get some fresh air. What seemed like just one breath later, he returned and we started the last leg to Mount Batur.

Jazz travelling with a friend.
Jazz travelling with a friend.

The start of the climb

One hour later we arrived at the site from where we would start our climb. It was a small village, about a thousand meters up Mount Batur, meaning the remaining 700 metres were ours to walk. We were greeted by our guide and he walked us to the assembly point. At this point, we met the group of people we would be sharing this experience with. Funny enough, they reminded me of the characters of the Scooby-Doo series I watched as a kid; Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma. The resemblance was almost scary, as if they were what the characters were based on. Would that make me Scooby? We all had a small chat, getting to know each other a little.

“Everyone ready?”, the guide enthusiastically yelled out. Here it began, a dream of climbing a mountain finally coming true. We started out in a forest-like area, with lush green vegetation, calming bird sounds, a light breeze and the smell of pine. This part of the climb seemed to go by quite fast, as it was just like a nice walk through the forest, rather than climbing a mountain.

The second part of the climb was a lot more challenging, going from the calm and easy forest area, to a steeper area with dirt and rocks. Walking up the rocks reminded me of climbing the, in my imagination never-ending, flight of stairs leading to the top floor of my university. The more we went up, the more I could feel my legs burning. It was at this time I promised myself to get a gym membership as soon as I returned home.

Onward and upwards

After walking uphill for about an hour-and-a-half, we finally reached the top. Once we arrived, the first thing people resorted to was complaining about their blisters and trying to catch their breath. However, when they had finished complaining and looked in around them, the scenery took all that pain away. I had never seen a more arresting sight before. The trees of the forest area being covered by some mist, the lake and its reflections, the view on the sea on one side and nature on the other side as far as the eye could see.

As the sun set, we also started to set up our tents and made a fire on which we could boil water for the rice we would eat. Sooner than thought, the only light source was the fire and most of us were setting up our tents in the dark. None of us stayed up longer than 30 minutes after dinner. One by one we disappeared into our tents.

Putting my head down on my pillow the only thought I had was, “finally, after an exhausting day, time for some well-deserved sleep”. As if I only closed my eyes for a second, I was awakened by one of my worst enemies, my alarm clock. Whereas normally I would snooze it like there’s no tomorrow, this time I got up and ready to see the magnificent sunrise we climbed Mount Batur for.

A campfire on Mount Batur.
A campfire on Mount Batur. Photo by Jazz Dobbins.

Morning coffee on Mount Batur

With some coffee, gazing upon the horizon, we watched the sun come up. The sun slowly emerged from clouds, giving them a pinkish colour. The rest of the sky had a golden vibe to it with hints of dark blue sky. It was one of the most impressive sunrises I had ever seen. Part of this also comes to do the effort put in to seeing this sunrise. It was hard earned. No doubt about it, looking at the blisters on my feet.

Still, having that impressive image in our minds, we made our descent to yesterday’s starting point. You might think that after seeing the same scenery less than 24 hours ago it would not be as striking anymore, but nothing could be less true. The green rice fields in the distance, the sun reflecting on the blue waters of the lake, the sounds of birds and monkeys hopping from one tree to the other; magnificent.

The ride back to the area I stayed in went by in a fraction of a second. The whole ride, the only thing I thought about was this amazing experience, looking back at all the pictures I had taken. Mount Batur, a journey I will never forget.

A tent on the mountain. Photo by Jazz Dobbins.
A tent on the mountain. Photo by Jazz Dobbins.

About the author

Jazz Dobbins is a 20-year-old aspiring world traveller from the Netherlands.

“I have had the opportunity to visit some interesting places so far. The most memorable place I have visited has to be Indonesia, and in particular Bali. I found Balinese culture very interesting, and I had the chance to make one of my dreams come true; climbing a mountain,” says Jazz.

This is an impressive piece of travel writing, particularly considering Jazz has written it in a language that isn’t his mother tongue. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Further information

See the Indonesia Travel website for further information about Bali and Mount Batur.

Lonely Planet has published a guidebook, Bali & Lombok – £:


DK Travel has also published a Bali & Lombok guidebook – £:

Qatar Airways offers services to Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar International Airport) – £:

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