Ligaya in Indonesia

A trek up Mount Batur, Bali.

Mount Batur is the most active volcano on Bali. Indonesia has literally dozens of volcanos, many of which are classed as active.

Mount Batur is a volcano within a volcano; it is more or less at the centre of a caldera almost 14 kilometers long and some 10 kilometers wide. This is said to have erupted 29,300 years ago to form the main caldera. Judging by the size of it, it must have been a cataclysmic eruption, perhaps on a par with Indonesia's most famous volcano, Krakatoa.

The second major eruption, which formed Batur itself, occurred just over 20,000 years ago. There have been many eruptions since then, with the last serious activity in 2009.

Mount Batur is considered by the Hindus to be a holy place. Apparently it is a very spiritual thing to climb the mountain in the night, to be on the top when the sun rises. We decided to try that, so we left the boat at 2 am and arrived near the lake at 4 am to begin the trek by torchlight. We did just over 10 kms and reached a height of a little more than 1,700 meters (about 5,600 feet)

Our GPS track is shown in blue. We started at the bottom left and then went right to left along the ridge at the top.

Unfortunately there were too many clouds to let us see the sun actually rise. The day just slowly got lighter.


It was quite an eerie feeling, standing on the edge of an apparently bottomless cliff, with the clouds swirling up around us.

Down on the coast, the temperature has been in the mid 30s with high humidity. Up at this height, in the pre-dawn chill, it was bitterly cold. We had taken jackets but could have used sweaters as well.

There was a small shelter at this summit, and the inevitable miniature temple. I thought it was clever that this temple was made from slabs of lava.

The Hindus must place offerings to the various Gods three times a day. There was quite a selection of offerings already placed here.

The guides put together a breakfast, but it was not to our western tastes. As soon as our guide had finished his breakfast, we carried on to visit the crater itself.

The crater is very steep-sided. It is quite overgrown, so obviously has not erupted recently. However, there were several vents blowing off steam around the edge of the crater. The whole crater was full of steam, or maybe clouds that had drifted in. When the world was being made, it must have looked a bit like this. All that was missing was a dinosaur or two.

The guide would not let us get too near the edge. We found out later that a tourist had fallen to his death just a few weeks before.

We were surprised that there is no smell of sulphur that you get with most volcanos.

As we walked westwards, towards the newer craters, the clouds began to lift. We could see the Batur lake, in the outer caldera. Hiding in the clouds is Bali's highest mountain, Gunung Abang, and peeping through the clouds in the distance, is the volcano on Lombok.

At the western end of the ridge are several small craters. These are the ones that have erupted most recently.

The small patch of green to the left of the large lava field is called Lucky Hill, because as the lava engulfed the valley, the people were able to flee to the higher ground. The lava stopped short of covering the hill and the people survived. Obviously there was no pyroclastic flow, otherwise they would have died in the hot gas.

Here, a small crater is forming on the rim of the larger crater. It was billowing steam continuously.
Edi, our guide, brought along a couple of eggs. He tucked them into one of the hot vents and left them there while we wandered about exploring the ridge.
When we came back, the eggs were cooked, so we had "hard volcanoed" eggs for a snack.
Edi also showed us how you can listen to the hot lava. Using a stick, he pulled a piece of lava from a vent and had us listen to it. As it cools, the lava crackles and pops as trapped gas escapes. It sounds just like a bowl of Rice Crispies after you add the milk.
Some of the paths were not for the faint-hearted, as they skirted the rims of the various craters.
Most of the lava flows were jet-black, but a few were a deep red colour.

Eventually it was time to head back down towards the lake.

At one point a small troupe of monkeys came to follow us. We did not feed them as we did not want them to pester us all the way down. There did not seem to be much for them to eat on the mountain, so I guess they come up hoping for handouts from walkers.

There were many vents spouting steam beside the path. As before, there was no smell of sulphur at all.

Edi borrowed my camera and was clicking away for most of the trip down. He was scuttling too and fro taking pictures with gay abandon. Here he caught us slip-sliding down a steep path through powdered lava.

Once we got back to the car, we drove up to a restaurant built on the rim of the main caldera. We were amused by the sign. We certainly did have "Great meals and a pleasant time".

The view from their terrace was stunning. We could look across the caldera to "our" volcano. Our first stop for the sunrise that did not happen was in the notch at the right-hand side. We then walked over to the craters that are on the ledge towards the left side.

Although we could indeed see the lake from there, our gaze was fixed on the volcano.

Once breakfast was over, we drove back down to the lake and had a well-earned soak in the hot-springs on the lakeshore.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple - one of the most famous temples in Bali
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