We don’t usually get up very early. When I say early, I mean we almost never catch a sunrise. Neither Giddi or I are morning people and maybe we’ve just always had a mattress thats too comfortable or something because most mornings we have to peel our sleepy bodies off of it.
On this particular morning, it was different. We had made plans two days previously to hike to the top of Mt Batur in Bali. We arranged for a hiking package with Bali Group Trekking Tours to take us to the top. Mt Batur is a protected area on government owned land and it is illegal to hike without a guide. The tour company arranged for a driver to pick us up from our rented place in the southern part of the island and drive us two hours up north to the trailhead.
This was a sunrise hike, meaning we would be at the top to watch the sun come up over the horizon. This meant, you guessed it, waking up early. Like, super early. 1 in the freaking morning to be exact. I was stoked though and so it wasn’t so much of an issue to get out of bed. I say that, but really I just never went to sleep. Giddi and I stayed up late working on a video we were making that had a deadline for when it needed to be submitted. In fact, Giddi decided to stay behind to finish working on this project and had to miss out on the hike. (We will be back).
I don’t remember any of the 2 hour drive to be honest because I passed out in the front seat. I remember waking up on a really bumpy dirt road and shortly after we came to a stop and he said “this is it. We’re here.” Our guide, Jarru, was there to meet us with a smile, some trekking poles, water bottles, and flashlights. Stepping out of the vehicle was a little colder than I thought it would be. We had spent the last two months living right next to beach and rice fields, where it got to the upper 80s during the day. Luckily we prepped for this, figuring we would be hiking with no sunshine and at a much higher altitude than what we had been at recently. I threw on my hoody, grabbed my pack, and was ready to go.
We didn’t leave right away, however. Cees and Madison had packed a little morning snack in their bag before leaving our villa and upon arriving to the trailhead and opening up their bag, they noticed their yogurt had broken up and spilled over everything. Literally everything in the bag was covered in yogurt. The package isn’t even that big so its kind of mind-blowing how much got onto the clothes, diapers, camera, etc. They spent a good while cleaning that up and then threw their packs on to get going. BUT (speed bump number 2), little baby Theo crapped his pants in excitement. And it was a big one. Needless to say, once that was all taken care of we got going up the trail pretty quickly because we didn’t want to miss the view of the sun peaking up to say hello. We filed in behind Jarru and used our lights to see the rocky path we were heading up on.
Jarru is 30 years old. He was born in a small village at the base of the mountain and grew up playing below this volcano (oh ya, I forgot to mention, Mt Batur is an active volcano but is COMPLETELY safe to visit and hike). He has been guiding tours for over 10 years. When I asked him how many times he’s been to the top he had no idea. He replied “countless” and shrugged his shoulders with a smile on his face. This guy was awesome. He was super happy, easy to talk with, absolutely hilarious, and extremely knowledgeable about the area and the other nearby volcanoes. I cannot recommend him enough if you’re planning a trip to Bali and want to visit Batur. If you do, tell him Jace from Our Home on Wheels sent you, he’ll get a kick out of it.
The hike to the top is really not very difficult. If you are in decent shape at all, you will go up just fine. Its not very long (not sure on the kilometers) and took us under 2 hours to go up and around an hour to get back down. Although its not long, it is very steep. A leg burner on the way up. Hiking shoes or boots would be recommended (we all wore Chacos) because some areas are tiny, loose rocks and it wasn’t fun to step on those once they got between our shoes and the bottom of our feet.
We stopped a few times to rest on the way up, each time taking a minute to look at the horizon for signs of the sun. Each time we stopped the sky would be a little bit lighter with a little hint of orange and pink starting to appear. When we were about 7 minutes to the top, on our last resting spot, the colors were starting to pop. I got worried we would miss the best parts of the sunrise, so I booked it up to the top. Drenched in sweat at this point, and out of breath, I turned and stood there for a few minutes watching the sky explode into color and light. It was AMAZING! Seriously epic. There were no clouds in the sky and we had a clear view of the villages, Lake Batur, the entire horizon and Mt Agung in the distance. We all watched in awe while sipping some hot chocolate (ya it was chilly up there).
After the sun had completely risen, we took off our jackets because it was warming up quick. Jarru took us to a spot where steam was pouring out of all these little pockets in the rock. He dropped in a few eggs and waited for ten minutes for them to “boil” in the steam (watch the "instagram stories" video below) while telling us more about the area and agriculture in the valley below. After eating our volcanic steamed eggs (awesome, huh? Haha) we started back down the mountain. It was a little toasty by now, as we were in full sunlight but its not a very long descent.
This area of Bali doesn’t look like what you see in pictures or what you think of when you think tropical island. There were pines and cottonwoods, dry grass and brush, dry soil where the farmers land was planted with onion, tomato, and chili peppers instead of terraces of rice. Once at the bottom, we met our driver again, thanked Jarru and said our goodbyes. The drive home was the same as the drive to the mountain, don’t remember anything because I was so tired from very little sleep and hiking for a few hours. It was such an awesome experience.
We found out while hiking down that Jarru also offers overnight camping experiences. Essentially the same thing we did but you hike up the day before and get to watch the sunset and sleep under the stars on top of the volcano. Looks like we will be saving that one for next visit to Bali…