Photo by Brad Hile
After visiting Bali 19 years ago, thinking that I would possibly never return, I decided to go back and explore a different side and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I stayed at a wonderful little retreat set amongst the villages up in the mountains near Ubud and used this as a base to explore some of the natural wonders of Bali. Everything from hot springs, rice terraces, mountains, waterfalls, lakes and volcano's. The most impressive being Mt Batur which is an active volcano standing at 5,633 feet (1717m) high, it's last eruption being recorded in 2000.
If your an energetic traveller looking to do something a little different while in Bali, I can highly recommend climbing to the summit of Mount Batur to watch the sunrise, which is what I did!
My experience of Mt Batur began at 3.00am in the morning where I was driven to the starting point, along with others to meet the guide. The trek begins in pitch black at about 4.00am, so a torch is essential, although personally I would recommend a headlamp, keeping both hands free. (or at least one hand free and the other with a firm grip on a walking stick/bamboo pole). After scrambling up the so-called path which is really just a series of lava rock footholds, I would have to say that this ascent is not for the faint hearted, but certainly worth it! Once at the summit it didn't take long to put the tedious 2 hour ascent behind me and admire the most spectacular sunrise while eating a freshly boiled egg. Yes....either take an egg or ask the guide/tour operator to take an egg up for you, as they can cook it for you a steaming hole on top of the volcano. It gets cold at the top, so a nice warm boiled egg and a cuppa is very welcoming!
Best time to visit is between April and November, but no matter what the weather is like, make sure you have sturdy shoes, as it is slippery near the top. Wear long pants and a warm sweater, windbreaker, or sweatshirt. Take sunscreen & hat to prevent sunburn, take water, don't forget your camera and a small amount of money for that cuppa.
Also make sure that you reserve a hotel in Bali in advance if possible. The process of going online to find a suitable room is actually very simple, meaning there is just no excuse not to at least look into what's available beforehand. That said, there's plenty to check out in this small area. The Indonesian Cuisine is unlike any other, and Bali's arts are a unique departure from what many are used to, from elaborate plays to exotic dance and music, the experience is one that you won't forget soon.