Climbing a Volcano….

One of the many things that I had wanted to do on my previous Bali trips but never found the time or the energy to get around to doing it is to climb the volcano. My trip started at 1.30am from my hotel. I needed to get an early start if I wanted to reach the peak for sunrise. Most of the pictures you see here will have been taken after the sun rose cause in the morning it was just pitch black and so foggy I couldn’t even see what’s right in front of me… no way could I take any pictures.

My guide is a certified mountain climber who has done many years of climbs in different mountains of different difficulty level… so to him this climb was going to be a piece of cake. Silly Renzze however, didn’t even bring a torchlight for a night climb! Thank goodness he brought spare. It must be a common mistake for city tourists like us.

The volcano air was crisp and fresh with a tinge of sulfur and it was rather cold. But as with all mountain climbing… your body exerts so much energy climbing that you feel hot rather than cold so a simple jacket is more then enough to keep you warm. In the photos… the roads look rather smooth… but this was only at the top end of the volcano… at the lower half… there were many steep rocks to climb. It’s too dark to see so I relied a lot on following the footsteps of my guide. He supported me for the last 1/3 of the climb when it got really steep and hard to climb because of the loose volcano earth. It’s quite easy to lose your footing on the black ash.

We made it up early enough to catch the sunrise which was just beautiful. It’s quite a feeling to be on top of a volcano… looking down on lakes and land that God created. In the middle that is a crater that still has hot steam rising from the valley even though this volcano has been dormant for many years.

There is a little shed at the top part where they had a little makeshift kitchen for some breakfast and drinks. Instant noodles were cooked over the charcoal stoves and hot steamed bread was distributed.

Since I wasn’t moving much it got really cold so the best place to stay is close to the kitchen where the fire brings much welcomed warmth. You can still feel the presence of the might of this dormant volcano… just dig a hole in the ground and hot air comes rushing out from the heated magma in the inside… You can easily hard boil an egg with that small little heat! Or if you get stuck on a volcano it’s one good way to keep warm! Free sauna!

The volcano in Bali are considered sacred and the rocks harvested here are not for sale. They are only to be used for the purpose of building the many temples you see in Bali to revere their God. Many holy man climb up the volcanoes and meditate in the many caves for divine inspiration.

Many villages and family still live near to the volcanoes cause the land is fertile and brings them good crops. When I asked it the locals were afraid they’ll be caught in a eruption the guide laughed and told me that the locals believed God will take care of them. The birds and the animals will abandon the villages when the volcano is about to erupt. It seems the animal senses the danger even before the modern equipment used to monitor the volcanoes can detect any change. So for the last couple of eruptions ( last one was in 2000) … villages were abandoned way before the volcano showed signs of eruption.

There is no animals on the volcano except for some monkeys near the summit. So there is no need to worry about wild bears or snakes on the climb up. There wasn’t even any mozzies! I guess the sulfur kept most animals away. In fact I believe the monkeys are up there due to human intervention rather then a natural occurrence.

The guide was very dedicated and knowledgeable…. he explained the various eruptions and the workings of a volcano to me. I would love to do a way longer trek the next time I head to Bali… but I also need to make sure I do much more training first!

This one day climb has drained me out… I would need to have much more stamina to do the 3 day one!

The walk down was less taxing then the climb up but it wasn’t exactly easier cause the paths were steep and slippery… you need to watch where you step cause one wrong one can cause you to slide and twist your ankle.

I guess in a way it was a blessing in disguise that I had to climb in the wee hours of the morning in total darkness. Because on the way down I realized that I climbed some really scary paths that were rather narrow… in between cliffs and one wrong footing could easily resulted in fatal consequences down the valley.

There are temples at the foot of the volcano that I could only admire when there was sunlight!


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