Bali’s mountain lakes are sacred to the Balinese, who worship the Goddess Ida Batara Dewi Ulun Danau (Goddess of the lakes). The lakes trap rainwater and feed Bali’s rivers year round, allowing for constant food production, a factor that has been central to the strength of the Balinese society. Danau Batur is the largest mountain lake and sits inside a caldera (blown out crater), that was created 30,000 years ago. The present day crater is 13km long and also contains Gunung Batur, the fierce looking volcano.
Visitors to Bali will be offered trips to Kintamani, which is a small village on the crater rim. These days trips will allow you to look down from the rim and view the lake and volcano, from a place called Penelokan which means ‘place to look’. Inside the crater there are other villages, some with accommodation.
•Getting to the Batur area:
The Batur area take around 3 hours to get to from Kuta, with various routes available. Hiring a car with driver is a good option and can be arranged in Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Sanur in the space of a hour, from one of hundreds of local car rental places. You’ll have to negotiate, but should be able to get a Kijang (4 door) and driver for 200,000rp per day. The newer the car, the higher the price so shop around. You can stay overnight with a car and driver too and the Batur area has plenty of cheap accommodation.
There are operators offerings day trips to the Batur area, which will get you to Penelokan for a quick view and some buffet food. Its not much of an experience in my opinion as you do not experience what this area has to offer. It is possible to make it to the Batur crater using public transport, with twice hourly buses from Singaraja and Batubulan near Denpasar. For those staying in Ubud, the Kintamani bemos can get you to the crater via Tampaksiring and Payangan. To get the most out of the experience having your own local transport is the go. You’ll have to pay a small admission fee to access the road along the Batur crater, which is 3,100rp per person, 2,000rp for cars and 1,000rp for motorbikes. The main fee collection point is where the road from Bangli meets the crater. It is possible to avoid paying if that’s your goal by driving through an looking confused. Once on the crater rim you can take the 11km drive north to the villages of Batur and Kintamani. In truth these are some of least appealing places on the entire island, but amazingly, 5 minutes NE around the corner from Kintamani is a beautiful forested mountain area.
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Penelokan is the best place on the crater rim to get a view of the lake and volcano. Across the lake Gunung Abang (2153m) sits on the SE rim. As soon as your arrive in Penelokan you’ll be mobbed by handicraft vendors. This is the main tourist spot. There is a tourist office (0366) 51730, open daily from 9am-3pm in Penelokan, and a wartel and post office on the way to the village of Batur. The climate on the crater rim is cool and mostly cloudy. The low light makes the area seem a dull grey, but the cool air is refreshing.
There is some good accommodation in Penelokan at the Lakeview Hotel (0366) 51394. Rooms go for $30 per night for a Superior room and $50 per nigt for a Deluxe room. Hot water and great views. Windu Sari (0366)52467, which is located on the way down to Kedisan is a quality place with rooms for 250,000rp per night with hot water.
•Pura Ulun Danu Batur & Pura Puncak Penulisan:
Two stunning temples are located on the western rim of the Batur crater, Pura Ulun Danu Batur & Pura Puncak Penulisan. About 1km north of the village of Batur, sits one of the most important temples in Bali. Pura Ulun Danu Batur is a kayangan jagat (directional temple) and protects Bali from evil spirits from the north. For visitors this huge temple offers a lot of shrine and structures to check out. Located next to the main road its easy to find. Make sure you bring a sarong and sash, if you plan on entering, otherwise you can buy one fairly cheap close by.
Pura Puncak Penulisan is supposedly the highest temple in Bali and the 333 steps straight up from the road may have you agree. The temple features stone carved figures from the 13th Century. These are the highlights of the rim of the Batur crater.