A Flip-flop Hiker’s Guide to Mount Batur

by Bianca Ohannessian

Setting off at 2am for the popular sunrise volcano trek up Mount Batur is an everyday activity on Bali. In theory, it’s an easy climb to the top for anyone with a general level of fitness and a desire to watch the sun shine over the enchanting Indonesian island. In practice, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Especially if your hiking boots got the chop in a last-minute luggage cut-down before your trip.

The initial gentle incline becomes a steep crawl the closer you get to the peak, the hike up is in pitch darkness and if the heavens open the volcanic dust path starts turning into a squelchy slip’n’slide. Despite all this, it’s still a magical experience and well worth the walk to watch the world wake up from the top of a volcano.

If you go prepared, it should make the trek a bit more comfortable. So here are some things to consider before you set off.

Wear walking shoes

This might seem obvious. Without packing proper walking shoes, I made the mistake of thinking flip-flops would be fine. They weren’t. Especially when it started pouring with rain and the sharp gravel and volcanic dust under our feet turned to slippery mud. I ended up having to take my flip-flops off and walk barefoot as I was sliding about in the rubber soles so much. So, take my advice: wear hiking boots, wear trainers, wear any type of vaguely sensible walking shoes. Just don’t wear flip-flops.

Fuel your footsteps

Breakfast is provided in most tour packages, which, for our group, consisted of a boiled egg, two slices of bread and a small bottle of water. You’ll be trekking for a good few hours so it’s a good idea to take your own snacks with you as well as extra water.  Tea and coffee is offered at the top by some tour guides but remember to bring some change with you as this usually costs extra.

Monkey mania

A huge family of monkeys runs around at the peak, from wizened old apes to tiny babies. The monkeys are very cute but also very mischievous so it’s good to keep a respectful distance. Remember, don’t feed the monkeys. In fact, guard your snacks closely as they’re not afraid to take what they want. Guard your tech devices closely too, as it’s not uncommon for monkeys to snatch the odd camera or smartphone if they feel like it.

Look up

Look to the skies and check the weather forecast before you go. It rains a lot in Bali, particularly around October-April, and with raindrops comes clouds.  So if you want a chance of seeing the spectacular sunrise, make sure you go on a day when clear skies are expected. If you’re short of time and can’t pick and choose your dates, don’t worry; it’s still a beautiful view from the top, even with clouds.

Layer up

Despite Bali’s average temperatures of 27°C, it can get surprisingly cold out on the misty mountain slope in the early hours of the morning. You might feel cold on the way up but you’re also likely to get hot on the way down. Take layers with you so that you can adjust as you go. A waterproof jacket is a good shout, too.

Light and shade

The sunrise trek starts in the dark, and with no street lights apart from the ones twinkling in the distant towns below, there is no lighting. Your guides will provide you with torches but they may not be very bright. So you might want to bring your own torch or even a headlamp to go hands-free. And although you’ll be starting your journey in the dark, once the sun has risen from its bed of clouds, it shines brightly. Don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses with you!

Discover Bali’s best sunset spots: Read more

Follow @rockskippers on Instagram for more mountain-top views

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