(Mount Batur). Of course, I was going to conquer the top of it, especially since the ascent to this mount is considered to be one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.
Generally, many holiday makers come here straight from the nightclubs, and in the afternoon they return to their usual tourist spots; the beaches on the island. Tours to Mount Batur are oriented on a tourist flow and provide good income to the locals in this part of the island. There are plenty of tourists here every day, but still, Batur is beautiful in its pristine beauty and worth the attention, even of the experienced traveler.
In order to understand the unusual nature of this volcano, it will be enough to see how it looks from above. In fact, it looks like a really big caldron. Literally, it is translated from Spanish as caldera, a scientific name for volcanoes of this type.
About 30,000 years ago, the powerful explosion and big eruptions of the volcano had created a wonderful contemporary landscape in this part of the island of Bali. A more or less smooth plateau with a diameter of about 6 miles (10 kilometers) was formed inside the old, ruined volcano. However, the surface torn by the lava may be hell for car tires and shoe soles.
In one part of this "lost world", there's the biggest lake in Bali, which has the same name as the volcano. This lake is called Bitang Batur. Next to this lake, there's a new volcano, also called Batur (Gunung Batur). It had already partially ruined the area during one of the eruptions about 10,000 years ago.
Batur is active at the present time. One local village was destroyed in 1965, when it erupted. Moreover, the volcano was belching ash only 15 years ago.
It seemed that the locals have adapted to this life. Especially as the land is particularly fertile there. Around the lake, there were many small villages, called "bitang danu", which means lake stars.
During a night ascent to the top of Mount Batur, the plateau at the bottom of the volcano is illuminated with thousands of lights from the streets and houses along the lake. We stopped overnight in one of these villages.
Among the locals, there's a kind of mafia that controls all the visits to the volcano. They tried to impose guides on all the visiting tourists, without the opportunity to explore the volcano on their own. The price of their escort services (by local standards) is rather high - between $20 to $100, for 1 ascent.
Usually, the ascent begins in total darkness, at about 4 a.m. and it takes 2 hours. Almost anyone can walk the distance of 1.8 miles (3 km) to the top with a vertical drop of 1968 feet (600 meters). Moreover, it is impossible to get lost in the nearby forest. The main thing is to continue going up all the time. Although, it is difficult to ignore the services of the guide.
You can be offered a minimum package for $20, which includes breakfast at a base camp on the edge of a volcano, and a flashlight as a bonus. For $35, local guides offer to take you around the whole crater in a circle. I was very naive to think that I could do it on my own.
Our group headed into the echelon toward the woods. The flashlights were very helpful. After we came out of the woods, I looked back and saw this fascinating view.
Numerous flashing lights were visible along the steep slope. These were groups of tourists storming the heights of Batur, shrouded in darkness. The dark surface of lake Batur could be seen in the distance. The life here seemed very distant and almost ghostly. Unusual southern constellations were flickering in the sky between the clouds. There was a feeling that we were somewhere on the border of different worlds.
Then, after a short steep climb, our group arrived at the so-called base camp on the edge of the crater. There were about a hundred people by sunrise. It was difficult to concentrate and collect my thoughts being in constant motion.
Soon, missing for a while, our guides brought breakfast. The price of the tour included several sandwiches with a couple of eggs, cooked over the volcanic steam, and bananas. Coffee and tea had to be paid for separately. As soon as we were served the snacks, suddenly a band of hungry monkeys appeared out of nowhere.
At the sight of the rising sun and in the heat, I tried to slip out of the camp and go further along the crater.
I managed to climb to the highest point of the volcano's edge when I suddenly caught up with the Balinese boy. It turned out the guides carefully watch all the tourists. The guy said that I had to go back because another guide was waiting for me to descend. I asked him to give me another 10 minutes.
For a while, I was alone with
There were breathtaking panoramas. The adjacent wall of the volcano, with dozens of small figures of tourists on the crest, was visible at the bottom. Almost identical silhouettes of two other neighboring volcanoes, Abang and Agung, were easily distinguishable in the distance. The first one is, in fact, the edge of the outer wall of the caldera of Batur, the second is the highest point in Bali, at 10308 feet (3142 meters). For comparison, I was at an altitude of 5633 feet (1,717 meters).
That morning was not spent in vain! I was overwhelmed with emotions, and most importantly, I felt much closer to the island . . .