Batur

Facts

Elevation: 1,717 m (5,633 ft) Prominence: 461 m
Ribu category: Google MarkerSpesial Province: Bali
Google Earth: kml Other names:  
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Eruptions: 1804, 1821, 1849, 1854, 1888, 1897, 1904, 1921-22, 1924-26, 1963-66, 1968, 1970-74, 1994, 1998-2000

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    The mountainous region around Kintamani, centering around the spectacular volcanic caldera of Mt. Batur with its deep crater lake and bubbling hot springs, is rugged with high and wild beauty. Clean crisp mountain air and stunning views in all directions are what makes Kintamani one of the most visited tourist stops in Bali. Batur is a truly fabulous volcano, consisting of a ‘double caldera’ – one crater inside another. Nearing Kintamani, the land rises steadily towards an almost featureless horizon – with only Gunung Agung and Gunung Abang in view to the east. The volcano rim has a diameter of over 14 kilometers and down in the crater sits the blackened cone of Gunung Batur, surrounded to the right by the long, blue waters of Lake Batur, and on the left the lava fields created by relatively recent volcanic eruptions, and very fertile vegetable plantations.

    The great size of the crater implies that Mt. Batur was once a much bigger mountain – perhaps as big as nearby Gunung Agung – which blew its top thousands of years ago. The volcano is still active – the last serious eruptions occurred in 1965, 1974 and 1994. Erupting from the lower west flank of the mountain and leaving a vast field of black needle sharp lava rock that is now harvested by the tones as building material. As I write this story in January 2010 the western side of the volcano has once again been closed by the Seismological Institute, in fear of further eruptions. Lake Batur, Bali’s largest lake feeds an underground network of springs throughout the southern central flanks of the mountain.

    To experience Batur at its best, arrange a dawn hike so that you reach the top for sunrise. To cover the 80 km from Nusa Dua or the roughly 70 km from Kuta will take you a good 2 hours easy driving by car. Simply find your way to the main road to the airport and then follow the signs towards Kintamani. Once you reach the crater rim look for the turn off to Toyabunka where you will find hot springs and some accommodation. Then make your way to Pelayanan Pendakian where you find the Batur guiding association office, as well as a guide – which is compulsory. Unfortunately people in the region around Kintamani have a bit of a reputation of being aggressive and often not so friendly in the way they sell their services.

    Several years ago the Gunung Batur guiding association was formed with the aim to escort visitors up the volcano and at the same time to keep the paths clean and well maintained. They actually do a fantastic job but unfortunately there is no chart indicating the charges per person and as such everybody trys to charge you as much as possible. I recommend that you pay Rp. 125,000 per person which is a reasonable price, and offers guides a fair income.

    Start your hike around 4.30 am as it will take a good one and a half hours to reach the small warung that is located on the southern lower rim of the volcano. The first 30 minutes of the hike leads through vegetable plantations that are set within recent volcanic lava flows. The rich soil yields a good crop of tomatoes, corn, shallots and cabbages. The going is easy, gradually inclining towards the actual cone. This area offers terrific views in every direction.

    This first section ends at a small shrine where your guide will place a small offering asking the Gods for a safe journey. Now the trail gets a lot steeper and occasionally slippery. This next steeper section will take roughly 45 minutes leading crisscross up the flank of the volcano.

    By this time, the sun will have risen in the east over the island of Lombok with Gunung Rinjani towering over the island. In the foreground to the south-east is Gunung Abang and Gunung Agung close behind. Most visitors witness the sunrise from the warung and end their venture at this point and slowly descend the same way. However, as the warung is located on the lowest section of the volcano rim, keen hikers continue well beyond this point. Follow the rim eastwards for an easy 300 metres before the path ascends to the upper portion of the rim. This section is a 30 minute test of your stamina, as the trek is steep and in many areas rather slippery. Rewards in this section are countless as every metre seems to unveil better views of the immediate surroundings as well as the scenery in the distance. There is one more small warung located close to the highest point of the rim. Here you can stop for a well deserved breakfast of eggs that are cooked in the steaming hot fumes escaping from the earths interior.

    The next 500 metres of the trek is definitely the most exciting section as it follows the edge of the crater rim. At times it is rather narrow and very steep requiring your hands for additional support. As you reach the western end of the rim the path splits in two directions. Either you follow the rim which will lead you back down to the first warung, or you part from the rim and descend sliding through the loose gravel towards the area where the most recent eruptions of Batur took place in 1994. As I write this story in February 2010 this section of the volcano has been closed by the seismological institute of Bandung, as all signs point towards a major eruption in the very near future. However, if this area is open then do ask your guide to take you in. This detour will take an additional hour and a half of comfortable hiking through extinct lava flows of past eruptions.

    It will take you only an hour to get back to the starting point. However unlike on the way up in the dark by torch, it is by now between 8.30 to 9.00 am in hopefully bright sun allowing you to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The first third leads down the cone of the volcano, followed by the second third across and past extinct lava flows, and eventually through the lower section that is covered by pine forest and vegetable plantations. If you are not the fittest and most adventures person, but still wish to experience the magic of a volcanic landscape, then Gunung Batur will reward you with a magnificent experience.

    Bagging information provided by Heinz von Holzen

    Practicalities

    Getting there It is a very popular destination and all drivers in Bali will know the route. Using public transport could take quite some time.
    Accommodation Available all over Bali, but most people stay in the obvious areas.
    Permits There is a small hut at the main entrance where you arrange a guide if you haven’t already done so.
    Water sources There is an overpriced shop selling snacks and water but it is better to take your own.
    Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm): ubud

    Location

    Links and References

    Wikipedia English
    Wikipedia Indonesia

    9 thoughts on “Batur

    1. Just back from doing Batur a couple days ago, for the second time (see previous post). Had a wonderful day with beautiful weather. One of the nicer Indo hikes we have done. We bucked the trend and decided on a day-light hike, as opposed to the Indo-tradition of climbing at night to be at the top for sunrise. We left Sanur at about 4 am, and were hiking by 6 am, just in time for sunrise. Lovely time to be hiking. The real bonus is being on a schedule no one else is on, meaning no crowds! We had the trail to ourselves, except for one 10-mins period when the 100 or so people came down all at once from the night hike. We also bucked the trend by not having any pre-arranged tour or guide. We had our driver simply bring us to the parking lot (any driver in Bali will know where this is). Highly recommended! No “agent” and no “tour”.

      Once at the parking lot, we simply approached the office of the infamous and dreaded “Association of Mt. Batur Trekking Guides”, which is clearly marked and obvious. Despite the legendary nastiness written about by others, I had a rather pleasant exchange of information which included me telling him (the guy in the office) how many people (4 of us), and him telling me the price: 400K Rp for the guide + 100K pp for the entry fee = 800K total. All in all, not completely unreasonable, so I simply accepted, and there were smiles all around. With that, we packed our water and snacks, and headed out to the sounds of birds and roosters. Beautiful day, fantastic climb to the top, we took the circle route around the top of the crater, and then back to base. We were back in Sanur by 1 pm.

      Travel tips: 99% of people do the night/sunrise-hike, so if you do that, you will be hiking up in the dark and congregating at the top with hundreds, if not thousands of people. Leaving the parking lot at sunrise means you hike in daylight and avoid the crowds (we have done Batur both ways, and much preferred the day hike). Arranging a driver from wherever you are staying, and then simply showing up at the Mt. Batur parking lot, and arranging a guide on the spot, is entirely doable, and probably cheaper than arranging the standard “package tour”. We (4 adults) paid 600K Rp for the car/driver + 800K for the hike (total = 1.4 million Rp for 4 people). When you get to the top, if you are feeling good, do the circle trail that follows the crater ridge around Batur, then comes back down the other side to meet the main trail. A much nicer hike, that is mostly level around the crater. Besides, the true peak (which is marked with a sign) is not at the sunrise viewing station, it is mid-way along the crater trail. Bring your own snacks and drinks, and just say “no” if they offer you a “breakfast” (for a ridiculous fee of course), which is 2 hard-boiled eggs, and 2 white pieces of bread. One last tip: do it on a weekday/non-holiday if you have the choice.

    2. Just back from the hike up Gunung Batur. Unfortunately mostly cloudy, so no amazing sunset, but great views all the same. The hike is as described above, and takes about 1.5 hrs from the carpark to the top. The Batur caldera is incredible, and definitely worth experiencing. Once at the top, and thus encountering the chaos of hundreds of people waiting for sunrise, I would recommend going past the warungs, where all the people are congregated. Walk another 50 m, and you will likely have a spot on the ridge to yourself. To return, definitely continue along the ridge walk and do the circuit back to the main descent trail, i.e., the high crater ridge trail does a circle and leads you back to the main trail below, and is thus a circumnavigation of the crater, that takes little extra time. Nice way to come back. Hot tip: bring your own thermos of coffee/tea, and your own breakfast for that matter. The standard “breakfast” the guide will give you is classically bleak (boiled egg + white bread with banana inside; coffee/tea not included). If you want to enjoy a coffee and good snacks at the top (highly recommended), bring your own. Basically ignore the warungs and the associated crowds, and tell your guide you want to go past them. And as has been mentioned, this hike could easily be done without a guide (from the parking area, just follow the stream of people and headlamps), so if you can somehow get around the “obligatory-guide” rip-off, all the better.

    3. Gunung Batur is one of the worst tourist traps in Indonesia. If you approach the mountain guides stop your car (!!) and force you to pay money that is about four times above the normal price you should pay for a tour. The mountain is a ridiculously easy hike. No guide at all should be needed. Ok, if they want to control what happens on the mountain, I can understand it. But I do not understand why they steal so much money from the tourists.
      Now, the mountain itself and the area arount it is indeed interesting. If you never have seen a volcano and want to see one you can climb it. If you have gone to other volcanoes, then I dont see much reason to climb Gunung Batur. You can have hundreds of other volcanoes for free that are as interesting as Batur or much better.

    4. Climbed Batur a couple of days ago for dawn – very straightforward as the starting point is at about 1,050m meaning less than 700m to climb. The guides seemed pretty pleasant this time though the (over-priced) warung owners are continually looking for customers. The guides talk of three different lengths of hike – short (just to the first warung at 1,550m and back) – medium (a circuit of the rim) – long (a circuit of the rim and an exploration of the crater area). Most people just do the short hike but if you want to reach the highest point make sure you do the circuit. I did the round trip in about 3 and a half hours. The highest point is the narrow section of the rim – past all the warungs (3 or 4 in all) and just above and a little way beyond a spot where guides boil eggs for hikers in natural hot water on the side of the crater cliffs. In additional to the great views of Agung and the forested Abang in the foreground on the opposite side of the lake, there are some suprb views to the Batukaru mountains west of Batur when you get further round the rim itself. I then descended down through lava fields where there seems to be some minor quarrying activity going on and where there is a small temple – apparently much larger before a recent eruption covered the area in black lava rocks. All in all, a fabulous and easy hike. There are tour agents all over Bali who can arrange transport for you but if you’re on your own it could be quite expensive so much better to try to join a trip with others (plenty agents can pick you up at Kuta, Sanur or Ubud at 2am on the way). Expect to pay no more than Rp400,000 each including guide, transport there and back and a couple of eggs and coffee.

    5. I went there last weekend.
      You just need around 2 hours to reach the TOP. A great Sunrise also nice track to the top.

    6. Batur is a geological wonderland.A big exposed hole in the earth with a caldera and a strato volcano. Indeed the the guides can be pushy,and they will even try to tack on more guides to your group as your push torwards the summit. A quick summit with ethereal views of the Kintamani lake, marslike landscape with lush green hues contrasting the jagged black volcanic rock.Great place to catch a sunrise and see Agung and Rinjani under a purple and orange Balinese sun.

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