The Pacific Ring of Fire runs through Indonesia with a vengeance. The country has many volcanoes including Mt Merapi on Java which is quite active, the magical Mt Bromo and Krakatoa which lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra.
Not to be outdone, Bali has a line of volcanoes running along an east-west axis from one end of the island to the other. The largest one is called Mt (Gunung) Agung (3142m).
Located about 22 miles north of Ubud, the most popular volcano for tourists is Mt Batur (1717m). This sits in a giant caldera that contains a lake that is a few miles long and more than a mile wide.
Hiking the volcano at 4am has become something of a “must do” for travelers. When I did it back in ’93 the local ‘guides’ got very salty that I didn’t want to hire them and tag along behind. In recent years their attitude has gotten worse as they consider this their mountain. Anyway, you’ll definitely want to bring a sweater, spare t-shirt, water and a snack. The mornings are cold but hiking uphill in the humid air you’ll sweat. Upon reaching the summit rim you’ll cool down in a few minutes and feel cold.
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The rim has a little tea shop selling drinks, plus there are many young kids in flip flops balancing buckets of Cokes on their heads scampering around the rim. The rim itself starts out at about 12 ft wide but narrows to 1 ft and if you want to reach the other side you’ll have to engage in some ‘free soloing’ around the outside edge. I thought it was entertaining and scary watching local guides hussling their group around the outside rim using handholds…safety, what’s that?
As dawn arrives you get an amazing view of Lombok and other islands in the chain. But soak up that view in a hurry as it soon disappears behind clouds that race up and fill the caldera.