Last week, I told you that part of our summer in Asia was of going to Indonesia. Indonesia is one of my favourite countries and going to Bali brought back memories of my travels all the way back in ’99!
Last week, I told you how I went on a cycling tour and fell in a ditch, but that isn’t all I did. Oh dear me no! I also decided to try my hand on going up a live volcano.
I had heard about how easy it was to climb them from a young American blogger called Ashley. Her blog is called Ashley Abroad and this year she spent considerable time travelling around the world and finding herself. At the beginning of the year, she climbed Mount Batur which is Bali’s most active volcano! She made it sound reasonably easy so I decided to do the same.
Ha! If only I had known….!
I did a little research and found that a local company called Pineh Bali Tours seemed to have the sort of activity that I was looking for and were well organised with various outdoor activities such as white-water rafting, cycling and of course, trekking up the various volcanoes that Bali had to offer. We opted for the Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour.
They weren’t joking about the sunrise part of it.
The Music Producer had taken a turn for the worse and decided to stay behind in the safe hands of the wonderful Alam Shanti Resort Hotel and the blissful quietness of the two level Utari House in the rice paddy. Not the Utari House in the city centre! The staff were great and I arranged for regular cups of tea and slices of cake to be sent up to our house, while my husband slept away and tried to recover from the illness that he had unfortunately picked up in Thailand.
And so it was left for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I to undertake an adventure never discovered before, aka – climb a live volcano in Bali!
What was I thinking?!!
As promised, a car came to pick us up at 02:00. I mean, 2 a.m. in the morning! We hardly slept but I made our 12-year-old son go to bed at 21:00 so that he would get some shut-eye.
It was too early to eat so we just had a drink and then crawled into the car which already had a young American couple in it, who were just as bug-eyed as we were.
Within an hour, we arrived at the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm. It was freezing cold, but we managed to have our included breakfast of banana pancake sprinkled with chocolate sauce. Sigh! And a variety of tea and coffee. I don’t like coffee either so I stuck to the tea.
At about 04.00, we proceeded to the base of the volcano where not far away was a car park and also the licensing office. The volcano is a treasure and is well guarded, it’s also live and therefore dangerous. We don’t have to look far to remember volcanoes that have erupted in recent years such as that in Iceland. As a result of this, one licenced guide is allocated to at least 4 people and 2 guides for 6 people. We were a group of four (4).
We were given a young English-speaking guide who then gave us bottles of water and torches. These torches were very much-needed as it was pitch-black. The volcanic ash was dark and all around were the twinkle of village homes. And so we proceeded upwards and onwards.
Let me tell you. It was awful.
The path was extremely narrow and it was pitch-black. I couldn’t see a thing. Thank goodness, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had on a red-jacket. On one hand, I kept a constant eye on where he was, and on the other, a hand on the rocks in front of us. The young couple travelling with us were quite irritating as they wanted to run to the top of the volcano as apparently, they were leaving for Spain in less than three (3) hours. Er. What!?
I, on the other hand, was just struggling to breathe up there and I had to rest every few minutes. I wish I could have said every five minutes but it was distinctly less.
I wanted to turn around right there and then but that wasn’t an option as there was a long line of people with torches, also behind me, and in the pitch darkness, it just wasn’t an option. Also, the guide has to stay with the tourists so if we split up, we would have a problem. In the end, our guide attached the couple to a group leader that he knew, so that we could again, go on at our own pace.
It was a long hard slog with enough time for me to think of why I was doing it. Why the hell was I climbing up a live volcano when I even had trouble walking up five flights of stairs?
I’ll tell you why.
Because I’m an idiot.
I like challenges even when I know perfectly well, that it’s a rubbish idea!
Honestly, looking around me, I saw lots of 20-somethings skipping merrily ahead and in flip-flops no less! I saw very few people over 50 and even less under 10. I’m in the middle and I have to confess, I found it a struggle.
And The Tall Young Gentleman? He had a blast, sang to the sound of music, and skipped along too!
I tried not to cry and then the guide started giving me words of encouragement, “it’s only 20 minutes away” when it was actually 2 hours away! He held my hand, carried my “city” backpack and made me rest when my eyes began to get blood-shot with tears. He began chatting about the village life of local Balinese people and the stories of why they have a temple in the middle of the hike to remember people who had died from volcano eruptions years before. It didn’t make me sad, it just made me more determined.
At about 06:30, we finally made it to the top of the volcano.
There was an eerie silence as the sky was cloudy and then it happened. The clouds parted and the heavens appeared. It was a “wow” moment and complete and utter silence.
We were on top of the world!
We were completely exhausted and an included breakfast was welcome. We were offered eggs boiled in the steam of the volcano, sliced bread and a banana. I opted for a cup of tea and put down my plate for just a second when I saw a sudden movement.
I hate monkeys.
As soon as I saw it, I realised that it was not only eyeing my breakfast plate but also my backpack which had a bottle of water sticking out of it, as well as my camera bag. I began to shake as monkeys can be ruthless. I managed to slide the bag away from it but left the breakfast, and all of a sudden there were more.
There was a monkey temple on the peak of the volcano and they knew that once people were around, so was the food. I took a few photos and tried to step away from them.
I have a few photos but they are pretty shaky!
Soon, it was time to go back down and it wasn’t any easier. It was worse!
My knees! My poor knees!
Thankfully, there was a view so that we were able to actually see the beautiful valley and lakes, and the temples scattered around the volcano. We also walked through a few villages where people were going about their business and selling fruit, snacks, and live chickens to passersby.
After another hour or so climbing down the volcanic mountain, I gave our guide a hefty tip and we were once again driven by private car, back to the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm, where we could look around the plantation and see that most interesting animal called a Kopi Luwak or a civet. Apparently, the coffee berries are eaten and then defecated out by this creature. The droppings are then cleaned, roasted and ground to be made into coffee. The aromatic falvour and its unusual process make the coffee one of the most expensive brands in the world.
It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee!
However, you do get a chance to have a snack of banana fritters, try some strange fresh exotic fresh fruit, and a wide variety of tea and coffee to taste, ranging from ginseng coffee to ginger tea.
And so to what you’ve all been waiting for – the beginner’s guide to going up a volcano.
Here’s the info:
WHAT IS PINEH BALI TOURS?
Pineh Bali Tours is a local Balinese owned and operated business focused on small organised trips to visit and climb Mount Batur, and other areas around it.
WHAT IS THE BATUR SUNRISE TREKKING TOUR ABOUT?
The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour is a private organised tour and a once in a life-time experience to see the sunrise from the top of Bali’s most active volcano – Mt. Batur.
DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND BALINESE?
This particluar tour was in English but being that the tours are private, I’m sure that they would try to link different guides with different people. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as most of the staff members spoke a multitude of languages, and are dedicated to ensuring that you enjoy your time and experience with Balinese nature and culture.
WHAT DO I NEED?
A pair of good walking shoes, a pair of thick gloves, a warm jacket, a scarf, a torch, a hat, some water, a camera, some snacks, and a huge smile!
Yes, this volcano tour includes a small breakfast, a variety of tea and coffee, as much bottled drinking water as you want, and a small lunch.
The trekking tour costs $40 or €32.60 per adult.
Return transport is included and they will collect you from Kuta, and Nusa Dua at 01:00 and Sanur and Ubud at 02:00.
A tiring day.
It was an exciting challenge and an adventure that I wanted to do.
I ticked off that bucket list but I probably wouldn’t do it again!
My guide, as well as the other guides that I met, were wonderful and so professional. Climbing a volcano isn’t for me but don’t let that stop you.
If you want to do it, then DO IT!
My knees cackled, and my glasses got smudged with ash and tears, but I’m proud that I made it once, up the most active volcano in Bali!
Everyone should go on an adventure tour of sort every now and then, if only to make sure that you’re not dead!
WHAT IF THE PINEH BALI TOURS ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?
Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!
For more information please contact: The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour
This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the large variety of drinks that I sampled, are my very own!
Christmas is coming, with more exclusive productions, and merry-making at German Xmas Markets. Whoop! Whoop!
A week ago, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.
Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:
For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!
December is going to be jolly!
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!