Hiking Mount Batur, Bali in darkness

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Sunrise hiking in Bali

Bali is a beautiful island with a fascinating culture. It also has several accessible and still-active volcanoes, and I jumped at the chance to hike up one of them, Mount Batur, in the dark to watch the sunrise from the summit.

Hiking Mount Batur, Bali


Mount Batur stands at c.1700m, and from the summit on a clear day you are rewarded with a stunning sunrise view over nearby Mount Agung (c.3000m) , and neighbouring island Lombok in the distance. Apparently such clear days are not a given, so I had my fingers crossed.

We were picked up from our hotel near Ubud at 2am by our guide and driven to a village at the foot of the volcano to begin our climb, which we started at around 3.30am. The sun rises at around 6am, and so we wanted to be at the summit for around 5.30am to catch dawn.

I didn’t bring any warm clothes on our trip and had to stop at a market the day before to buy a jumper to wear for the hike, as the mountain areas are surprisingly chilly before sunrise. I picked one up for around £2 – it was too small for me (I think it was a kid’s top!) but did the job for a couple of hours. You need good shoes for the hike, and so I wore my Salomon Crossmax, which are perfect for the mixed terrain.

Despite being in near pitch-darkness (it was a new moon), our torches lit enough of the route up the volcano, and we followed our guide closely, therefore didn’t have to put much thought into where we were going, just where to put our feet as we climbed. It was a relatively easy hike up a path comprised of volcanic rocks, although I was careful not to trip as those rocks are sharp.

View across to Mount Agung before sunrise
View across to Mount Agung before sunrise

The hike is quite a popular thing to do, despite the very early start, but it didn’t feel crowded and we took our time ascending, which took around 2 hours to get to the true summit, from where we set up our cameras to capture photos and a timelapse of the sunrise.

View across to Lombok from Mount Batur at sunrise
View across to Lombok from Mount Batur at sunrise

We were lucky to have a clear, crisp morning for sunrise

It was definitely worth the trip, as we were lucky to have a beautiful clear morning, and could easily see across to Lombok, with a great view of Mount Agung and two other peaks, plus the village and lake below.

Once the sun had risen, we had a tour around the crater, where you can feel the heat emitted by fissures which release a constant stream of steam. I was surprised that, unlike other volcanoes I have visited, there wasn’t the awful sulphuric stench that often accompanies such areas.

Mount Batur crater
Mount Batur crater

Decending Mount Batur

We then headed back down. I don’t think I am alone in finding that downhill is almost always so much more difficult than going uphill – whether running, hiking or biking, I am always slower than I probably should be.  I found heading downhill tricky. It was quite steep in places, with loose stones, sand and plenty of uneven, sharp rocks to navigate around. Downhill technical trails are definitely something I need to work on if I am going to compete in more trail races!

Helen is one of Trail & Kale's co-founders. An experienced trail runner and world traveler, Helen also enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits including hiking, camping and mountain biking.


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