I can’t say that climbing a mountain has ever been something that was on my radar. I would definitely not class myself as someone who would call that a fun way to spend my weekend. However, clearly the altitude on the super long flight to get here from the U.K had messed with my brain a little as for some reason- as soon as Nathan and I spotted the advertisement for a ‘sunrise trek up Mount Batur’ we went and booked on to it without much thought.
We were told that we would be picked up from outside our hotel by a shuttle bus at 2am the following morning so of course instead of sleeping, we lay awake tossing and turning wondering what the hell we had let ourselves in for. By midnight, an intense rain storm was raging outside our window and I had made the classic error of googling ‘deaths on Mount Batur’ to find that there had actually been a few. I was seriously freaking out and the last thing I wanted to do (as a safety queen) was climb an active volcano, in a terrible storm, in the pitch black, without proper climbing equipment.
I told Nathan that I was definitely not going and because Nathan acts like a sloth when he’s tired- he agreed just so he could finally get some sleep.
And then- just as I was snuggling back down into my cosy blanket and drifting off- I realised that I would definitely regret not giving this a go if I didn’t try it. Nathan fully agreed so we quickly got ourselves dressed and headed out into the pouring rain to wait for our shuttle bus.
After an hours drive from Ubud, on which we picked up about 6-8 other people, we arrived at a dilapidated little shack in the middle of nowhere with no instruction. We made our way in- like half-asleep zombies- and were given a fried banana pancake each (a classic in Indonesia) and a warm cup of tea or coffee. It was obvious that we were already at some altitude as this was the first time I’d felt the cold in Bali.
Over our strange earlybird breakfast- we got talking to our little group and made friends with three people from London and an American doctor. It was a very diverse range of people and a relief to find out that they also had no idea what they were letting themselves in for and we weren’t the only unsure ones. I also made a mental note to never let our doctor friend out of my sight- just in case.
We then drove a further 15 minutes or so to the base of the mountain and met our three local guides. None of them spoke any English but they seemed very friendly and handed out flashlights and weird breakfast packages for us to carry to the top. Of course, we managed to be the only people that had just one flashlight between two as they didn’t have quite enough for everyone so my panic levels were not fantastic by this point.
So finally, in the pitch black at about 3:30am, with just small torches and no other lighting or sense of where we were heading, we started our walk up the volcano. We were walking along at a fairly fast pace, chatting away and having a laugh, and I was thinking how easy this walk was and that there was no way we’d take as long as the suggested 2 hours to reach the summit.
As usual- I was wrong. Within 15 minutes, the ground became rugged and crumbly and winding with no path. You could literally only see the small patch of ground which your torch illuminated and nothing else- which was very eery as we had no concept of how close we could be to falling off the edge! Our feet kept stumbling on loose rocks and after an hour of progressively tougher terrain, my glutes were on fire.
The amusing thing was the way our local guides were so nimbly hopping around. I truly believe that my favourite guide was secretly a mountain goat, she was running and jumping over terrain that would be impossible for people without hooves.
After many ‘are we there yet?’s from me, witnessing some quite hilarious falls, and becoming obsessed with my new mountain goat friend- we finally reached the summit at around 5:15am and suddenly the pain in my legs and the dirt on my cute gym pants was all worth it.
As the sun rose over the mountains and the lake below- we clambered onto a huge rock and took a well deserved break. Although the climb was definitely tough and probably unachievable if you don’t have a decent level of fitness, it was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen and somehow it seemed even more beautiful because it didn’t come easily.
We spent around an hour and a half at the top where there is a fair bit to explore, from craters left behind from volcanic eruptions to a million different aspects to witness the incredible view from. The Mountain also has some adorable little monkeys just chilling up there which was an unexpected bonus for me.
After a while, once the sun was fully up, our guide rounded our group back up and we began our descent. The descent was definitely harder than the ascent and both Nathan and I had a fair few tumbles, but luckily just the funny non-painful type. By the time we got to the bottom- the sense of elation still hadn’t left us and the adrenaline had definitely got to my head, I felt like I was the new mountain goat as I smugly overtook our guide.
If you are considering the climb yourself, I would highly recommend it. Although it was definitely not the easiest thing, it was very manageable for those with a medium level of fitness and above, and the spectacular view of the sunrise was a very unique and rewarding experience.
Would I do it again? Probably not! It’s one of those once in a lifetime things, I reckon you only need to do it once. Although, whether I would climb another mountain or volcano is a whole other question and I’m pretty sure I would!
I definitely didn’t think I was the mountain climbing type, so if I can do it and absolutely love it, then anyone should be able to!