Don’t get me wrong, the tranquil atmosphere Bali offers isn’t to be discredited. In fact, it’s literally impossible to spend time in Bali without regularly stepping back to stop and admire the sheer beauty of the culture, food and landscape. It should be noted though, that Bali has so many different experiences to offer that aren’t the regular touristic ones!
Ubud, the capital and cultural heart of Bali, exudes this hippy aura made for an eclectic mix of expats, travellers and locals. It’s not hard to find unique streets, unconventional restaurants and impressive temples, making it a very instagrammable (#sorrynotsorry) city.
About an hour (depending on the level of crazy of the driver) outside this city lies Mount Batur., An active volcano with an elevation of 1,717m. In 2012, Batur was declared by UNESCO for its cultural significance and natural beauty. As beautiful as it is, I wasn’t exactly prepared (or warned) for the vigorous climb! Booked through a tour website online, we were informed that we needed athletic clothing and walking shoes for long, moderately strenuous walk.
The first twenty minutes of the trek is pretty effortless. As, even though it is pitch dark, you can walk with ease as the road is solid, wide and there is no rough ground to tackle. This ease soon changes as the path becomes more rocky, steep and uneven. Our guide, who knew every wrong and right step to make, regularly gave us a helping hand to avoid certain rocks and warned us ahead of slippy ground. Very often, we were on our hands and knees to scramble up larger rocks whilst balancing to avoid falling off the side!
In the darkness, it’s impossible to tell how far up you are, and none of us asked how much further to go, as we were afraid of the answer! The key is to follow the steps and flashlight in front of you listen for your buddy’s step and breath. It is a strange feeling, climbing in the darkness, not knowing what is next to you.
Not a moment too soon, our guide announced ‘five more minutes.’ To my astonishment, at this point we had been climbing for over two hours! When we arrived at the top. Our guide offered us a choice: watch sunrise from here, or climb for another twenty minutes and sit at the very top point of Batur. Naturally, we pushed ourselves to do it and set off again for another remarkably steep climb and battle for balance. By now, we needed no torches as it was light again and we could look back at our view. About a hundred other travellers were following us and we were one of the first to be at the very summit.
We sit for the next hour relishing in the beauty silently evolving in front of our eyes. The sky starts to lift with pinks and blues. And the first gold rays highlight the silhouette of Mount Agung across the way. A thick low mist hangs above Lake Batur and the water is perfectly still – it is paradise! We enjoy our hot chocolates as the sun silently gets higher in the sky, highlighting how far we’ve come.
After a few pictures and monkey admiring, we make our way back down the volcano. Which is every bit as tricky as the way up! It takes much less time as we can see where we are going. However that doesn’t stop us slipping as we climb and pick our steps.
When we arrive at the bottom and look back at what we’ve conquered, I can hardly believe I managed climbing mount batur at night! As a generally athletic and fit girl in her 20s, this adventure was testing! But every single step is worth it.