We love hiking mountains and we are always looking for a good hike no matter where we go in the world. So we decided to hike Mount Batur, an active volcano in the middle of a massive caldera, instead of a longer and more challenging hike knowing that it would be fairly easy to do with baby on board. Sadly for us Mount Agung will have to wait.
First, I was not that excited about Mount Batur, thinking it would be overcrowded. I wasn’t wrong; it was overcrowded. But it was also well worth it. The view is great and we had good fun with our guide, a young university student happy to practice his French.
Sleeping and organising our hike
We stayed in one of the best homestays we had in Bali. Tiing Bali in Kintamani is a small place hidden in the mountains with only a few bungalows; simple but good food; and especially nice people. We had a terrific view on Mount Batur, as well as the surrounding volcanoes and the lake. Going there with our 16-month-old was like being part of the family. They took care of our daughter for a bit which is always welcome as long-term traveling parents! The temperature was a little cooler which was great.
We hoped we could hike the mountain without a guide as we prefer to hike independently. There is no need for a guide there; the track is clearly indicated and I don’t see how someone could get lost on the mountain. But we were told it’s ‘’illegal’’ to hike the mountain without a guide. How ‘’illegal’’ it is I am not sure and we didn’t make any further research but I understand that guiding tourists is a source of revenue for many people. So despite our disappointment we hired a guide and paid the high price for it. Our guest house sold us an all included tour which consisted into transport return to the mountain; guide; entrance ticket to the park; and a breakfast on the mountain. And we could’ve had a visit to the hot springs as well if we wanted too. We paid 900000 IDR in total for two adults which is a lot more than we had expected. I am pretty sure that we could’ve found a better deal looking around for a transport and going directly to the park.
Hiking the mountain
Most people hike Mount Batur at dust starting around 4 AM to get to the top on time to watch the sunrise. We thought this was a lot to ask our young daughter and decided to watch the sunrise over breakfast from our guest house – which was a terrific idea as we got to see the line up of headlamps going up the volcano in the dark. We left the base of the mountain at about 6:30 AM. Putting the baby snug in the hiking backpack on my husband’s back, we set forth on the beginning of the trail crossing fields of onions, tomatoes, and chilis which makes the area smell like soup! That was just enough to put the baby to sleep – fortunately for us.
On our way up to the first summit it got extremely crowded. We got the usual hello baby! so cute!. This is where I got really annoyed; it was impossible to do 2 metres without someone touching the baby or commenting loudly on the fact that the baby was sleeping. This was not a hike to get lost in our mind and we had to stop fairly often to share the path and lose our pace. We must have passed about 400 people descending the summit, all of them having ascended the mountain early in the morning to watch the sunrise.
The hike was fairly easy – regular hikers will find it easy; others might think it’s a little challenging. On popular hikes it is always funny to see all kinds of people, some of them equipped with proper gear and others in long skirts and sandals. Although running shoes or light hiking shoes are fine, I would say it’s making your life pretty tough to wear sandals and dresses to hike Mount Batur… There were clearly some people who had no idea what to expect; like some lady carrying a giant Dolce & Gabbana purse on one shoulder… at least she did it in style.
When we reached the first summit we saw a few monkeys – all well fed with biscuits, bananas, and chips. There were a few vendors too and a lot of tourists.
We continued further to the real summit – which we made sure to ask for as some guides will apparently stop the hike at the “Congratulations Point” – and did the full loop around the caldera. The later it got in the morning the less crowded it became. About 1 hour after we left the base of the mountain the path started to become clear of people. On our way down we barely saw anyone except for two young Indonesians signing some Indo-pop music chilling there and this Russian man who strangely had lost his group. In retrospect we may have missed the sunrise but it really didn’t matter. On the top of the volcano the view was amazing and we enjoyed some parts of the mountain just for the three of us.
If you are looking for a hike to do with a baby in Bali, this is a good one. We completed the hike in about 4 hours with our 9 kilo toddler in a hiking backpack and a lot of pauses. The hike is well worth it but expect a lot of people, dogs, and vendors.