Seminyak, 1.30am, and my driver has just picked me up from my hotel, we head north with a 2-hour drive to the bottom of the active volcano, Mount Batur. We arrived around 3.30am and I met my guide, I was shocked to see hundreds of people up at this silly hour meeting their guides ready to trek to the top to watch the sunrise. My guide was 55 and didn’t speak much English, but what he did do was just about run up the mountain. I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, it was bloody freezing, school boy error, why didn’t I pack a jacket!

But once we started walking, jogging, running up the mountain I soon warmed up. We passed many people along the way, my guide was on a mission and I wasn’t going to ask a 55-year-old man to slow down, for a younger, 40-year-old. The climb is very steep in places and the path is very narrow so you do get stuck behind people who are slower than you. Due to it being a volcano there is molten rock and due to lots of people walking up this volcano, there’s lots of crushed volcanic rock which is very slippery under your feet. We arrived at the top in 1 hour 20 mins, the average time is 2 hours, I was soaked in sweat.

The problem with going up so fast is that we had to wait 2 and a half hours until sunrise and it was so cold, don’t forget to take a warm jacket in your backpack if this is in your plans. The clouds were thick and we only had glimpses of the mountains, sky and Mount Batur Lake below. The skies would clear, show us an amazing landscape and within seconds, full cloud again. It was so dense you couldn’t see in front of your face. But they did clear just enough to get a stunning photo of the beautiful sunrise. You forget about the cold for a few minutes when you see such beauty. It was jaw dropping and makes you really appreciate the earth we live on.

My guide said it was time to go as lots of people were heading down, he took me to the edge of the crater which is huge, I can’t really describe it other than to say you could fit a cricket pitch inside, and out of the crater from one side came the hot steam. Rising up and mixing with the clouds that surrounded us, it’s then that you really realise the mountain is only sleeping and is very much still alive. You can feel the hot steam coming from many of the small holes along the path and after 20 mins of just enjoying the crazy view and the monkeys that live alongside the crater, it was time to head down with the other people.

It’s very steep in places and soft under foot as well, as your climbing down it can be unstable and dangerous in parts. My guide, however, thought it would be fun to run down, I don’t recommend this, but with my heavy camera backpack, I didn’t really have a choice. So we ran down, passing many people, I guess we slid down in places, or fell down in some cases. We arrived back at my car around 8.30am, and what a morning it was, stunning landscape and a very interesting trek up a volcano.


Simon’s main passion is photography and to take a picture, the click of a button that can transform a simple image into something extraordinary, excites him the most. His images are caught while he’s travelling and you can follow along with Simon’s adventures over on his blog or Instagram account @xankai3333.

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