I was ready to defy Mt Batur. My head torch was strapped, the extra water bottle was in my bag, my compression singlet on, which although made me look like a pancake, I knew would be good for the physically draining trek I was about to embark on. I had mentally prepared myself for this to be an excruciating but ultimately rewarding morning. I was more focussed on the climb than the sunrise – I didn’t expect the sunrise to be any different to a sunrise on the ground.
The morning started with a banana pancake breakfast and a cup of coffee at a coffee plantation at 3:00am. I was pleasantly surprised by this ‘pancake’ which I’m pretty sure is a crepe. It was delicious! The coffee, however, was not. Note: This is not your local cafe and if you don’t ask for milk you won’t get it. Stay tuned to find out what you do get when you ask for milk.
Once our driver reached the starting point I could see a herd of people scrambling out of vehicles. The driver handed me over to the guide and I was joined with a group of six others – a family consisting of a mother and two teenage kids, and three girls who were on a working holiday in Australia. The climb began and at the pace we were going I was feeling quite confident and could hold a conversation with the guide.
Half an hour in, the walk began to become a climb and my quads were beginning to burn. I loved it! The temperature was cool unlike the Bali heat during the day, which made breaking into a sweat somewhat rewarding. Before I knew it we were having another break where the guide reassured the group that we were half way there. My response to this being, “You’re joking!!!” was not well received by my guide (“Why would I joke about something so hard?”) or the others in my group (“Is he really joking? I can’t do this much longer!”). In my defense, I really thought he was joking because I had read online that the guides lie make you feel better about the climb and also because I felt like we had just started! Just to make it clear – he was not joking.
Soon we were high enough to see the lights below glisten n the early morning darkness. It made for a beautiful background as we kept on climbing up. My bag was starting to take a toll on my shoulder – I did not invest in a backpack – so the guide took my jumper and a bottle of water and carried them for me. I was very grateful for this, and looking back I’m regretful that I did not tip him for being so fantastic just because I felt cheated on by the high price I had paid for this trip – something he had no control over.
Our group made it to what they called the sunrise viewing platform before sunrise but I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment. At this point, the guide asked whether anyone wanted to go to the peak – an opportunity I jumped at! The climb from the viewing platform to the peak was the hardest of the day, it was very steep and it was black sand so slips and trips were a common occurrence.
Within minutes of reaching the peak, the sky began to give off beautiful hues and started showing signs of a cloudless and clear sunrise. I was in awe of how spectacular nature could be. I had a big grin on my face as I walked around just admiring the sunrise. I’m now still lost for words to describe how I felt, and the photos don’t do it justice. I had never before just sat somewhere and waited for a sunrise nor had I witnessed the few seconds that it takes for the sun to come up before. For this reason, I urge you to experience this. Of course, you may not be able to do this climb but if you could just get up early one day and climb a local hill or go to some place where you can experience the sunrise. Take it all in. Sit there in silence and take it all in.
Trekking from the peak to the viewing platform meant facing black sand again. This is particularly fun when you take it upon yourself to ski down it and just slide all the way. I have never skiied but if this is what it feels like, then I know what I’m doing in the winter! I wasn’t wearing hiking shoes and for most of the climb it was fine but I really wish I had them for the sole purpose of sliding down the black sand as it gave me ankle pain for the next few days. The light made it easier to trek down the rest of the hill which was all dirt and rock and a few sneaky monkeys!
As part of the tour, after the trek we went to do a coffee and tea tasting at the same cafe we had breakfast at. I ordered myself a cup of Luwak coffee, which is made from coffee beans that have been digested and defecated by civets. The ‘poo’ coffee didn’t taste pleasant so I asked for some milk and was handed a can of condensed milk. I’m not too sure why anyone would add condensed milk to their coffee but I was intrigued and proceeded to add some to my coffee. It made it sweeter, not at all creamier or tastier. At this point, the flies were having a party on the top of the condensed milk can so I did not think it was hygienic to pour anymore out. I finished the coffee just because it is said to be the ‘most expensive’ coffee in the world, primarily because only a few hundred kilograms are manufactured per year. I also bought myself a packet of vanilla coffee for 50,000 IDR and have been enjoying it at work ever since I have gotten back.
So there I was lounging by the pool at 11:30am and I had already been up for over nine hours – I felt so alive!! Overall, I personally found the climb to be easy yet fun and a great experience. I think next time, I would challenge myself and perhaps try a harder trek but I also believe that as a solo traveller this was the most appropriate trek. However, it wasn’t the climb that I would do this experience for, it is experiencing the sun rise when you’re atop a 1717m active volcano. Challenge yourself!
Disclaimer: I have not edited any of my photos. I’m a firm believer in Photoshop but I just couldn’t bare to mess with nature and alter them- it’s just so beautiful without any filters!