My Wonky Knees and I Tackled Mount Batur and Survived


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I’ve just woken up from a two hour nap in my hotel room. It’s three o’clock in the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful sunny day and I can’t bring myself to get out of bed! Knees aching and bruises beginning to form, I’m absolutely exhausted after the day/night we just had…but what a night it was! We climbed Mount Batur in Bali, an active volcano standing at 1,700m tall, and watched the sunrise from the top.

In order to make it to the top on time to see the sun come up we had a very, very early start! Picked up from our hotel at 2.30am, we were on the road an hour and beginning our assent of the mountain by 3.40am. 

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We had prepared enough time for maybe some briefing or safety talks, but in true Bali style, there was no such thing! All the guides are local men from the village below the volcano, who make this trip up the mountain on a daily basis! There is no sign of safety equipment, proper footwear, walking poles or high-visibility clothing…just a flashlight, water, and away you go trudging vertically to your destination!

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I’ve heard mixed reaction from friends I met while travelling who have experienced Mount Batur. One good friend explained it as the “most challenging thing” of her life. Others said it was hard but manageable, and others said they couldn’t walk for days afterward. But one thing they all had in common? They all finished it and agreed it’s an experience of a lifetime. 


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While I would have considered myself very athletic, there’s nothing like a good hike to bring me crashing back down to reality! My time travelling has diminished any fitness levels I may have had! Over the half-way mark the trek gets extremely steep and the ground turns to ash and hardened volcanic matter. It’s slippery and extreme care must be taken.

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However, I still had determination, and in under two hours Darren and I had passed out a few hikers and made it to the summit in good time. If you are worried about your fitness levels, what the guides lack in preparation, they make up for in experience. They will show you the safest resting spots, give a helping hand (literally) in tough spots, and set the walk to your pace. 

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Our guide told us that unfortunately some people stop before they reach the top and watch the sunrise mid-way. If you are feeling you can’t go on, I promise you it is so so worth it at the top! The sense of accomplishment with other hikers is great and the views are simply phenomenal.


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Once we caught our breath at the top, the body temperature dropped quickly and our guide brought over piping hot coffee to sip on. We boiled eggs in the volcanic steam and there was chocolate, bread and bananas to tuck in to also. No sooner had the food arrived, we were joined by a few furry friends! 

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Wild mountain dogs, mountain rats (which were oddly very cute!) and monkeys showed their faces to nab some breakfast. While the dogs were naturally obedient and begged for food, the monkeys were cheeky #%**!s and made a bolt for any food that wasn’t firmly held in hand! 


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We had a great laugh with the monkeys who are wild but are more than used to humans on their mountain. They bounced from shoulder to shoulder as we snapped selfies and screamed like children!


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Our time on the volcano was amazing, watching the sky change colour, interacting with the animals and taking in the breathtaking scenery. Our guides never rushed us and offered to take picture after picture for us (although I had bags the size of Ireland underneath my eyes!).


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While most welcomed the descent and found it a lot easier than the climb, here is where I struggled. An old football injury has made one of my knees very weak and walking down hills/stairs can aggravate it. I took it very slowly and let other hikers pass me by. Darren and our guide were patient and took my hand where I needed it. I lost count of the amount of times my knee gave way and I came skidding down the shale on my bottom! But we laughed every time and I was picked back up!


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We arrived back to base camp at roughly 9am, all thoughts of sleep deprivation gone as we were so ecstatic with the morning we just had. If you are in Bali, please put Mount Batur on your bucket list, it is truly one to remember!


  

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Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Based in Sydney, Australia she loves to blog about all things travel-related specialising in budget travel, ethical travel and off-the-beaten-track itineraries!

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