The crescent-shaped crater lake of Batur, 1,031 meters above sea level, is seven and a half km long, with a maximum width of two and a half km, and a depth of between 65 and 70 meters. The western side is barren lava rock while the eastern side is lined with trees. The average height of the huge outer rim is around 1,300 meters. Though there are no suface river outlets, the waters of the lake feed underground rivers which emerge as holy springs in the southern part of the island.
     Eight villages huddle along its shores: the ancient Bali Aga settlements of Seked, Prajurti, Kedisan, Buahan, Abang, Trunyan, and Songan, and the newer village of Toya Bungkah. These small fishing settlements are characterized by their archaic layout and unusual, fully enclosed, pavilion-style, single-family houses—steep bamboo shingle roofs, low eaves, and walls of clay, mud, brick, woven bamboo matting, or wooden planks. Fish provide most of the protein for these lake dwellers.      After your three-km corkscrew descent from Penelokan down to the lake (Rp1000 by bemo, or walk it in 45 minutes), turn left and journey two km on the northwest side of the lake through a strange moonlike landscape. Rivers of black lava, a layer of gravelly volcanic ash, sparse scrub, a few onion fields, and scattered houses now occupy an area where villages stood before the 1926 and 1963 eruptions. After seven km, this switchback, undulating road arrives in Toya Bungkah. The road down from Penelokan ends at an intersection—to the left is the way to Toya Bungkah and to the right is Pelabuhan Kedisan for boats to Trunyan and the villages of Buahan and Abang.


The fishing and farming village of Kedisan, the community almost directly beneath Penelokan (three km), has foodstalls, pasar area, extensive gardens (oranges, corn, peanuts), souvenir shops, bemo terminal, a big parking lot, ticket office, and boat landing. The weather is exceedingly mild and enjoyable. Few mosquitoes but some flies due to the extensive gardens. No telephone or fax machines. There are a number of accommodations, several in attractive settings only minutes from the water. These are the best places to stay if you plan to take a boat trip across the lake. The lake is clean and nice to swim in. Sometimes a bit noisy with dogs at night and cocks in the morning. Always park your vehicle within your hotel grounds, where it will be safe. At night restaurants are convivial meeting places.
     The big drawback of Kedisan's accommodations is the swarm of peddlers demanding you buy sarung, shorts, and paintings. They flash you large, sad eyes, show you their guestbooks filled with signatures of satisfied tourists who've bought from them before. Don't fall for it unless you want to buy mass-produced and tacky merchandise and encourage obnoxious behavior in so doing. Kedisan is also full of people trying to get you to pay them to guide you up the mountain. Again, don't do it; you don't need a guide. If you feel you must employ someone, choose I Wayan Pineh, a legendary figure who works out of Surya Homestay. Ask him about the 1963 eruption, when he led a geologist safely away from a fountain of hot lava. His knowledge of the region's volcanoes is extensive and his friendly character and exceptional skills make him the undisputed king of volcano guides.

Cheapest is Segara Bungalows near the ferry terminal and close to the road, next to the bar/restaurant and shops. Turn right after descending from Penelokan and reaching the road along the lakeshore. Five basic rooms with mandi cost Rp8000 s, Rp10,000 d. The restaurant offers the standard menu, though it would be nice if someone taught them the basics of cooking; it's a shame a chicken has to die to be covered in such a vile sauce. North along the western side of the lake toward Seked village is Segara Homestay, separated from the lake by peanut and cabbage fields. The 33 rooms start at Rp30,000 s for bargain rooms with mandi and go up to Rp65,000 for larger rooms. Clean with big comfortable beds, fans, bathtubs, shower, hot water. In some rooms the hotel water exudes fumes—dangerous. Have the roomboy try it out first. The staff is helpful and friendly—the hotel has good vibes. A buffet is offered each night in a nice dining area; people from most of the surrounding hotels come here to eat. The restaurant also serves Indonesian and Balinese food, as well as margaritas and other mixed drinks. Another appreciated feature is the big, secure parking lot. Segara can also provide experienced guides for climbing Gunung Batur.
     A few meters farther on you'll find Surya Homestay and Restaurant offering 22 rooms with private baths, showers, and good views of the lake. Rooms cost Rp10,000-25,000 s or d with cold water; Rp40,000 with hot water. Laundry service. Tariff includes breakfast of pancake, toast, egg, and choice of coffee or tea. The restaurant serves very good food, a mixed menu of Indonesian and Western dishes (fried noodles Rp2000, to cream of asparagus soup Rp200. Particularly good is the fresh lake fish (ikan kapur). The lake is only a two-minute walk.

Getting Away
For the lake trip, buy your tickets at the fixed-price ticket office in Kedisan, near where the motorized kapal bot leave. There are 82 boats in all. Standard price is Rp35,000 (maximum seven people) for a two-hour tour of Trunyan, the hot springs and back to Kedisan. It's slightly cheaper if you just go to Trunyan and back (20-minute passage each way). This ferry is only 500 meters from the Segara Homestay. If you like crowds, Sunday is the best day. Beware of scalpers and independents who try to con you into paying several times the official price. Lying through their teeth, they'll tell you anything—that they're cheaper, that the government boats no longer operate, and so forth. They're also inclined to renegotiating the price halfway across the lake or once they have you captive in Trunyan.
     A self-propelled dugout canoe is probably not a viable alternative, even though it's much cheaper at Rp10,000, unless you're prepared to paddle a hell of a long way across water that could get very rough should the wind come up. Don't try to paddle across unless you're very strong and race kayaks for a living. No matter what kind of boat you take or no matter when you leave, take jeans and a jumper or freeze your ass off.
     Yet another alternative involves no boat across to Trunyan—walk it. Take a bemo (Rp500) or ride your motorbike from Penelokan to Buahan; from there it's about a one-hour (seven-km) hike along the well-maintained lakeshore path to Trunyan. A longer hike runs from Kedisan north to Toya Mempeh, looping around southeast to Songan, then back to Kedisan via Toya Bungkah.

Vicinity of Kedisan
In Buahan, two km from Kedisan on the western shore of the lake, stay at seven-room Buahan Homestay, Rp10,000 s, Rp15,000 d including breakfast—nice, clean, friendly, and quiet. The asphalt road from Kedisan to Buahan to Abang is roly-poly, hugging the land between the lake, the gardens, and the mountains. Abang is about six km from Kedisan, and two km before Trunyan. To walk from Kedisan to Abang and back takes about 2.5 to three hours at a moderate pace.
     The small village of Abang, relocated more than once due to shifts of the mountain slope, offers a small, primitive marketplace and several shops selling cold drinks. Every morning lines of village women from the other side of the mountain climb down the steep slope carrying sweet potatoes and vegetables to exchange for a few fish from the lake. After your visit to Trunyan, return to Abang and negotiate for a canoe or motorboat back to Kedisan or across to Toya Bungkah. From Toya Bungkah, it's about seven km along hair-raising terrain back to Kedisan.
     You can also take the good trail from outside Abang up to the outer crater rim—steep in places, but easy enough to handle. It's on the left about two kilometers from Abang (if heading toward Buahan) emerging on the road from Besakih. From here, walk to the main Denpasar-Kintamani road, a beautiful stroll above the lake. It's an hour's walk from Segara Hotel to the turnoff path up the mountain, then another hour to the main Denpasar-Kintamani highway. Inquire after guides in Abang or at a Kedisan hotel.


Bali's best-known Bali Aga village (pop. 600) nestles under a precipitous crater wall on the eastern shore of Lake Batur. You can walk to Trunyan from Buahan or travel by boat across the lake from Toya Bungkah, taking a motorized boat or canoe from Kedisan. Boats seating seven people leave when full from Kedisan's pier and cost Rp5100 per person; charter boats cost Rp36,000-43,000 for a maximum of seven people.
     The Bali Aga are the island's oldest inhabitants, aboriginals who lived here long before the Majapahit invasion in the 14th century. The first direct evidence of Indic influence on Bali dates from an early copper plate, inscribed A.D. 882-914, referring to the founding of a temple to Batara Da Tonta in Trunyan. His title, Batara, indicates that the Bali Aga's most important ancestor figure was incorporated into the Hindu religion.
     Legend has it the village was established on the spot where an ancient taru menyan tree stood—thus the town's name. It is said that in ancient times the lake goddess Dewi Danu was lured down from heaven by the lovely scent of this tree. The taru menyan is the lair of underworld spirits distracted only by corpses, which may explain the people's practice of neither burying nor cremating the dead.
     Today Trunyan is a real tourist trap, and you may not get to experience much more than villagers clamoring for money. Still, the setting is spectacular—green mountain backdrop and deep blue lake, mist-shrouded Gunung Batur rising up dramatically on the other side. A path from Trunyan zigzags up the inside face of the crater wall on the southeast slope of Gunung Abang.
     Culturally and ethnically outside the mainstream, Trunyan provides evidence of how Bali's earliest people lived. The inbred inhabitants are mostly fishermen, their harsh expressions mirroring a harsh life. Women wearing warm red kain pound padi in giant stone mortars. Although they plant cabbage, onions, and corn in plots near the lakeshore, the Bali Aga have no rice fields. Since ancient times they've relied on begging to supplement their meager diet. Much of the village—houses, walls, alleyways—has been cut crudely out of volcanic rock. Without trees and gardens, their homes present a bleak impression, unlike any other village on Bali. Modern Indonesia is now making heavy inroads, with the construction of new brick, concrete, and zinc-roofed buildings. Except for a massive 1,100-year-old milkwood tree in the center of the village, there's little sense any longer of Trunyan being an old village. The few traditional architectural oddities include special boys' and girls' clubhouses (bale truna and bale daha), a pavilion where married women meet (bale loh), and a great wooden ferris wheel put in motion during ceremonial occasions. The giant contraption is revolved by foot power. Trunyan's bale agung, where married men sit in council, is one of the largest traditional buildings on Bali.
     In contrast to the Bali Aga village of Tengenan with its numerous craftspeople, old interesting buildings, and streets where you are free to stroll and look, visitors to Trunyan are not made to feel welcome. Except for the temple, which seems to take up half the village, you don't really see the ancient ways of the Bali Aga, and there are a lot of hustlers around. A guide will attach himself to you and expect a fee of at least Rp5000. Most visitors just get out of the boat, pay Rp5000 for stepping ashore, go up to a temple (also Rp5000) which Westerners are not allowed to enter, then march right back down to the boat again for a trip to the cemetery (another Rp5000) in Kuburan which is around a rocky point a little north of Trunyan and only accessible by boat.

Pura Pancering Jagat
Trunyan's old temple, Pura Pancering Jagat ("Temple of the Navel of the World"), stands under a massive banyan tree. Unusual architecture abounds in this austere pura—a fossilized relic of aboriginal Balinese society. The Bali Aga never came fully under Javano-Balinese domination, and the Polynesian features found in their temples are not seen elsewhere on Bali. One must cross over a symbolic little bridge (titi gonggang) before entering. Hidden away in a seven-tiered tower inside is Bali's largest statue, the megalithic-style Ratu Gede Pancering Jagat, the powerful patron guardian of the village. Known locally as Da Tonta, this unique 3.5-meter-high stone and clay statue, adorned with ornaments, is considered very ancient, and many magic powers are attributed to it. Every three years virgin boys ceremoniously clean and paint the surface of the colossus with a mixture of water, chalk, and honey. You won't be able to see this august statue, as it's jealously guarded by the villagers. Only they, and only during rituals, may gaze it.

The Kuburan
The Bali Aga prefer exposing their dead in the open air rather than cremating them. Valuable land cannot be given over to the burial of the dead. After complicated rituals, the naked body is first wrapped in white cloth, then placed in a shallow pit, protected from scavengers by a triangular bamboo fence and roof. Those who have committed suicide or who have died of horrible disfiguring diseases are buried.
     The eerie cemetery, full of skulls and bones and bush, might have a fresh rotting body in it. Those selling boat-trip tickets might accost you in Kedisan, screaming "A new body at Trunyan!" Bizarre. Curiously, there is no stench of decomposing flesh—because, it is said the bodies are placed near a taru menyan tree, which smells of incense. But with the scavengers, the maggots, the scattered bones, the cans, plastic, bottles, and other garbage, you may wonder why on earth should you pay to see such a morbid sight.


Lying on the western shore of Lake Batur, along the roller-coaster road from Kedisan to Songan, the resort village of Toya Bungkah features an invigorating hot springs, massive cinemascopic views, and a black-sand beach. Many travelers choose to stay in Toya Bungkah rather than Kedisan because the latter has too many Bali Aga while the former is more a mixture of Balinese and Javanese. Watch your gear in both places—lotsa thieves.
     Toya Bungkah gets busy only during July and August, otherwise there's little traffic or motorboat noise. Just roosters crowing, flies buzzing, children playing, and pool balls socking. There are worse places to stay for a few days. Free of city lights, at night the stars are brilliant and the air fresh, filled with the sound of generators supplying power to the restaurants and color TVs. Electricity only comes on from 0630 to 2400. Bemo run in front of most hotels and it's a very easy matter to get to and from the village to Penelokan, eight km distant.
     Just before the village is a tollbooth where you're hit with another irritating entrance fee: Rp1050 per person, Rp1000 per vehicle, Rp200 per motorcycle. Keep your entrance ticket so you can reenter each day. Popular tourist activities include bathing in the lake, fishing (Rp1000 for bamboo poles and worms), touring the lake via motorized boat (Rp40,000 per hour with boatman), visiting Trunyan and/or the cemetery on the other side of the lake, walking along the scenic shore, getting up at 0400 to climb Gunung Batur, or simply hanging out and enjoying the view and the cool air. At least five small open-air pool halls liven up the evening and somewhat occupy the many shiftless young men of the village. Although Toya Bungkah presents fewer hassles than other Batur communities, the males can be pretty aggressive to single women.

Hot Springs
This sulfurous hot springs is known to soothe muscle aches and pains, as well as cure rheumatism and skin diseases. The volcanically heated water bubbles up from under the lake in several places among the lava rocks. The water is not really that hot, though it becomes warmer as the day progresses. A private hot springs lies north of Amertha's. Admission fee of Rp300 just to look, Rp1000 for hot-tub style baths. Facilities include changing room and toilet. Bring your own towel. Signs ask patrons not to wash clothes, shampoo, or wear shoes in the bathing area. Be warned, the pool is untidy and unappealing, not that private, and swarming with vendors.
     The public air panas is on the other side of Amertha's and free. However, since villagers wash their clothes and cows in these shallow pools, and there's lots of litter around, you don't always feel like bathing here. After a long, relaxing dunk, swim Finnish-style from the mineral pools straight into the chilly lake. Very therapeutic, especially fresh from a hike up Gunung Batur.

The Art Center
Also called the Balai Seni Toya Bungkah. Above the air panas is a retreat for the study of the arts, including a dance academy and amphitheater. Rooms and bungalows spread out among nice peaceful gardens (see "Accommodations," below). If you stay here, you can watch the dances and an occasional wayang kulit for free. Good selection of books available to guests, with the emphasis on painting, from Dyer to the Fauvists. If no visiting study group is in town, the center seems virtually deserted; no one can provide any information on anything other than the rooms and restaurant. When an event is going on, the place is bustling.
     The center (tel. 0362-7802719) was established in 1971 by Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, a North Sumatran novelist, philosopher, and painter. Known as "The Father of the Indonesian Language," Alisjahbana played a pivotal role in developing Bahasa Indonesia as a tool for sophisticated intellectual and technical usage. The old professor now spends but a few days a month here; the rest of the year he's in Denpasar or Jakarta.

Toya Bungkah contains about 15 losmen, most lining the road and surrounded by neatly landscaped gardens. Look around before you settle on one. Except for the Art Center, all offer quite plain rooms for Rp8000 s, Rp10,000 or Rp12,000 d, which includes toilet, shower, and front veranda. Unlike other budget accommodations on Bali, breakfast is sometimes not included in the price; inquire first. Most losmen are located in the west end of the village. If the room doesn't offer a view of the lake, you could probably bargain it down to Rp6000 s, Rp8000 d. Whatever the price, insist upon clean bed linen and a towel or threaten to move to another losmen. Try to avoid places close to the road, as hikers set out at 0400 accompanied by a chorus of dogs; sputtering motorcycles and bemo start up in earnest at around 0500.
     Darma Putra Homestay & Restaurant has 10 rooms and two bungalows with comfortable beds, bathroom, and shower for Rp7500 s, Rp12,000 d; bungalows are Rp20,000 d breakfast included. The owner, I Ketut Narsa, provides good information on trekking and guides. Behind Marini's Restaurant are three nice bungalows run by I Nyoman Mertha; Rp12,000 s, Rp20,000 d (includes breakfast) with nice views and clean tile floors. Fairly quiet, near restaurants. The very reasonable Awangga is just past the Art Center and about 75 meters from the Toya Bungkah-Songan road. Small rooms without showers overlook the lower baths of the hot springs and cost Rp8000 s, Rp10,000 d, Rp15,000 s and Rp25,000 d with hot water. Four bungalows with hot showers run Rp25,000 d. Quiet, enclosed courtyard. Jero Wijaya provides great information as well as maps of the crater area.
     Another good place is Arlina's, tel. (0362) 51165, past the Art Center on the bend of the road, charging Rp10,000-15,000 for economy rooms with one bed, Rp30,000 for rooms with two beds (hot water, separate reading lights). Also included: excellent breakfast, small verandas, phantasmagoric grotto-like mandi, shower, and the clearest and most unobstructed views of the lake. Join the card-playing guides in front of the losmen and banter with them over their "fee" for taking you up Gunung Batur. Arlina's also rents bicycles, motorbikes, and cars with drivers. Tirta Yatra, right on the lake, wants Rp8000 s or Rp12,000 d for very basic rooms—virtual cells separated by bamboo mats. Outhouse in the back. This is like camping, so bring your own soap, drinking water, and sleeping bag. Rooms have a squat toilet, no shower, oil lamp lighting. A fine cheap restaurant overlooks the lake. Despite the noise from children, roosters, dogs, and the nearby road, Nyoman Pangus Homestay & Warung opposite Arlina's is often full because it's the best known. Located right in the village center, Nyoman asks Rp10,000, Rp12,000, and Rp15,000 s or d for clean rooms (no breakfast) in the back with bath, shower, and laundry facilities. More expensive rooms have hot water. A friendly, gentle man eager to please; an okay place to stay.
     Behind Nyoman Pangus Homestay is Mawa Bungalows. The service-oriented owner charges Rp6000 s and Rp8000 d for rooms in front, Rp10,000 s and Rp15,000 d for rooms in back. Laundry service. Asri Inn, tel. (0362) 753645, fax (0361) 754784 in Denpasar, charges Rp15,000 d with mandi. Separate bungalow for Rp20,000 d. Nice location, though perhaps too central. Amertha's Accommodations is right on the lake, overlooking the hot springs. Bungalows for Rp20,000 and Rp25,000 s or d face the lake with private garden bath, walls of volcanic rock, and open verandas. Other, smaller rooms go for Rp12,000 and Rp15,000 s or d. All four classes of rooms have private mandi. Since it's very close to the hot springs, hot water is pumped up for showers. Wide parking lot and good restaurant.
     More secluded than Toya Bungkah's other losmen, the Art Center has more expensive rooms, each with mandi, European toilet. Standard rooms with hot water cost Rp15,000 s, Rp18,500 d. The suites in front go for Rp18,000 s, Rp26,000 d—very nice, they look out over landscaped gardens, near the lake, with attached mandi with bathtub and shower. Family bungalows (capacity four or five) are Rp50,000. The Art Center is often booked by groups. Performances take place when hotel guests charter a dance troupe. The restaurant services American breakfast for Rp7000; lunch Rp8000, dinner Rp10,000. The other high-priced hotel, newly built, is the Puri Bening Hayato Hotelright beside the lake. Huge restaurant which serves tour group-type food.

There's an abundance of small restaurants and shabby small warung that offer the usual tourist fare at cheap prices. Most come with great views of the lake, many specialize in grilled lake fish, small and bony but tasty.
     The Marini Bar & Restaurant, attached to Amertha's and almost hanging over the hot springs, with beautiful views from the veranda, is the best place to eat. The resort's best grilled fish, but some dishes—like the vegetables—tend to be greasy. The Art Center Restaurant asks higher prices than any other eatery (fruit salad Rp2000), but the food is well prepared. Under the Volcano Restaurant is also a good place to eat, and even stocks cold beer. Though the menu's claim to "The Best Fried Fish In The World" is clearly an exaggeratio, the fresh lake fish is indeed excellent. Daily specials, stunning views of Gunung Batur. Only Rp2500 for three fish, grilled to perfection by an excellent cook. Owner Nyoman Mawa buys fish twice daily; the chicken run around out back until you order them.

No telephones. The only official travel agent in town is CV Jero Wijaya Tourist Service, Box 01, Kintamani, Bali 80652, a privately run tourist office that changes money and sells a number of tours—Sunrise Breakfast at the Top (three hours), Bicycling Around the Lake (four hours), and Younger Batur Crater (six hours). After each outing, which range in price from Rp10,000 to Rp50,000, the driver picks you up in the company van and drives you back in air-conditioned comfort. In Ubud, the Jero agent is Mutiara Tourist Service, Jl. Raya Ubud, tel. (0361) 975145.
     The shop in Under The Volcano sells toiletries, mosquito coils, some aspirin. Owner Nyoman Mawa is the closest thing to a tourist information bureau in the village.

Getting There
From Penelokan, there's a good paved road via Seked and Prajurti. Since Toya Bungkah gets little traffic, bemo drivers first want Rp1500; when you get in, the price suddenly skyrockets to Rp15,000, eventually falling to Rp8000. Just wait until a public bemo comes along and pay Rp1000. Alternatively, you can hitch a ride down to the crater from a tourist or a truck, then walk to Toya Bungkah from Kedisan in an hour. Or take a boat from Kedisan.

Getting Away
Hop on a bemo up to Penelokan (Rp1000); they leave from 0400 to 1300. From Penelokan regular buses leave for Singaraja and Denpasar. Public transport is always more frequent in the morning. After 1300, the bemo are more infrequent; you may have to charter (Rp6000 and up) or accept an outrageous price. Have your losmen or hotel owner make return transportation arrangements for you (bring this up before you take a room). Or hitch a ride with a construction truck for around Rp2000 to Penelokan. With a five-person minimum, you can arrange 1030 and 1200 shuttle service with Jero Wijaya Tourist Service to Ubud, Rp8000; Kuta, Rp17,500; Lovina, Rp12,500; Candidasa, Rp12,500. Some of the losmen also provide shuttle services. Ask Nyoman Mawa at Under the Volcano, who can also arrange treks. The short trek starts at 0400, returns at 0800, and costs Rp30,000; a lengthier journey commences at 0400, returns at 1200, and runs Rp60,000. Fees include breakfast. A tour of the volcano area costs Rp80,000 and requires 10 hours; at the end a car waits for you in Toya Mampeh to return you to Toya Bungkah.
     At Toya Bungkah's tiny harbor and concrete pier, boatmen ask Rp10,000 up front for a rowboat across the lake to Trunyan's Bali Aga cemetery; you row. You'll die if you row by yourself, then they'll go through your pockets for the Rp5000 to see the cemetery. Motorized boats to the boneyard cost Rp40,000 for up to seven people. Not worth it.

Vicinity of Toya Bungkah
Walk north to Tirta, where there's only one losmen. The proprietors are desparate for guests. Take the path from Awangga to the north, crossing over black lava rocks; newer lava flows are along the way. Four km in the other direction, toward Kedisan, you'll see a sign pointing toward Pura Jati, a Vishnu temple on the lake shore with exquisitely decorated shrines and entrance gates.
     Many travelers arrive in Toya Bungkah in the afternoon, stay the night, rise early to climb Gunung Batur, then descend from the mountain and reach Kedisan via Prajurti and Seked by midday. Houseboys and "professional guides" everywhere in Toya Bungkah are available for the climb. A guide will approach you with a "thank you" book for their guide services, informing you the fee is Rp50,000 per person roundtrip. then may "lower" the price to Rp30,000. In fact, the fair price for a guide for one person is Rp10,000-15,000. The final price depends on the age and experience of the guide, the size of the group, your bargaining power, and supply and demand.


From Toya Bungkah, walk one hour or drive the single-lane, surfaced road to Songan on the northeast corner of the outer crater, 12 km from Penelokan. Songan is also accessible by boat from Kedisan and Toya Bungkah. This is the largest village on the lake, with a population of around 5,000. The people make their living from fishing and cultivating the flatland beyond the village. The remote hamlet has only one losmen, Restiti Homestay & Restaurant, with simple rooms with bath for Rp12,000; it's located on the road to the temple 200 meters beyond the village. There are no bemo to Songan but you can get rides on gravel trucks; the drivers ask for lots of rupiah but are happy with Rp2000; some travelers wrangle free rides. Many sulfur wells and natural springs in the area. If you need to go back up to Penelokan in your own vehicle, gas up here.
     Turn right at Songan and travel to the end of the road to reach beautifully situated Pura Ulun Danu (not to be confused with Pura Ulun Danu in Batur village on the western rim of the crater). Since the headwaters of Lake Batur are considered holy throughout the whole eastern half of Bali, a ritual drowning of live animals occurs here every 10 years in honor of Dewi Danu, the goddess of the lake. In 1994 two buffalo, a pig, a goat, a goose, and a chicken, adorned with gold, kepeng, and other decoration, were taken out into the middle of the lake and drowned with solemn grandeur. The floor of the lake is no doubt littered with incalculable wealth from the millennia of ceremonies since it's believed Pura Danu Danu was built on the site of a pre-Majapahit temple.
     From the temple, climb 15 minutes up to the remote viewpoint on the crater rim; you can see Bali's east coast. It's a 12 km walk on an old trade road to Lupak on the Amlapura-Tianyar-Tejakula-Singaraja highway running northeast along the east coast. Walking downhill over streams and through little villages and beautiful forest areas, it's about a five- or six-hour hike. Take water, as the more you descend, the hotter and more barren it becomes. The path ends in the middle of Lupak's small local market. Turn left on the highway and catch a blue bemo to Lovina for around Rp3500.
     Right behind Pura Ulun Danu, a small footpath climbs up to the rim of the outer crater. The right path then winds up to Gunung Agang, passing above Trunyan—an arduous climb. The path to the left leads down to the traditional village of Blandingan from where a path will take you back to Songan.


After Agung, Batur is the most sacred mountain on Bali. Most often the mountain's only sign of life is an occasional wisp of smoke that drifts across its lava-blackened slopes. But when this 1,717-meter volcano erupts, it glows red, bellows, and throws out rocks and showers of volcanic debris. If you arrive in Penelokan at night, you'll awaken to an unforgettable sight. The next morning, the mist will lift from the shining lake and roll across the crater like a mammoth white and gray curtain. When the weather is clear there are also spectacular views of Gunung Batur's smoking cone.
     Sitting in the middle of an old volcanic basin inside a gigantic caldera, smoldering Gunung Batur rises 686 meters above Lake Batur. The crescent-shaped lake takes up about one-third of the basin's total area. Measuring 13.8 km by 11 km, this is one of the largest and most beautiful calderas in the world. The crater's outer walls, about 30,000 years old, range from 1,267 meters to 2,153 meters above sea level. There are actually two calderas; the floor of one lies 120-300 meters lower than the floor of the other. Plan on a full day to explore both of them.

Like Krakatoa, Batur was initially formed in the shape of a sharply pointed cone over 3,500 meters above sea level. A terrific explosion blew the point off the cone, atomized a large portion of the volcano, and collapsed the bulk of the mountain into the magma chamber which was emptied by the initial cataclysm.
     Before the present caldera was born, Penelokan and Kintamani lay on the western slope of the "first" Gunung Batur. Now Penelokan and Kintamani are spread out along the top of the caldera's outer crater rim. The present younger, smaller volcano—of the effusive rather than explosive type—gradually grew out of the crater floor over a period of hundreds of thousands of years.
     Batur erupted in 1917, destroying 65,000 homes, 2,500 temples, and 1,372 people. Its last major eruption was in 1926, when the village below was covered in lava. In 1959 a crack in the lakebed emitted poisonous gases, coloring the water green and killing all the fish. There was further activity in 1963 during the Gunung Agung catastrophe, when lava spilled down Batur's southeastern flank. The lava flows from those eruptions can still be seen beside the lake. In August 1994, one of Batur's lower peaks began belching smoke and debris. In Kedisan you could hear the mountain rumble, and from any vantage point the volcano glowed red. Climbers were prohibited from ascending the peak and people all over Bali complained of throat ailments, coughing, and congestion—Batur belched NO3 and sulphuric acid up to 450 times a day.

Guides will approach you everywhere, offering their services for a starting price of Rp30,000. They'll eventually settle on Rp15,000 for two or three people. For six people, most guides won't accept anything less than Rp25,000 or 30,000. Guides you meet in your losmen tend to charge too much. You can easily find a guide if you arrive at the trailhead at 0330. They'll come out of the dark and offer to lead you for as little as Rp10,000.
     Although you don't really need a guide, the fellow can help you find your way out of the clouds that can envelop the slopes of Gunung Batur without warning. If you decide to hire a guide, choose a younger man or boy; it's a difficult ascent. It's unnerving to hike up the mountain sweating and gasping for breath while your nimble guide scrambles up playing the flute, puffing away on cigarettes, and wearing only plastic thongs!
     The guides in Toya Bungkah offer three different climbs. The short one, up and back for the sunrise, is Rp25,000-30,000 (four hours). The medium one involves a walk around Batur's three caters, a visit to the bat cave, and a breakfast of eggs boiled by volcanic steam for Rp30,000-40,000 (five hours). The third option is the more interesting tour. Here you get the volcanically boiled eggs with banana and bread, the sunrise, a hike down to the other side of Gunung Batur, plus a trip to the "lucky temple" (Pura Bukit Mentik) three km beyond Toya Mampeh, where lava stopped just meters before the gateway. From the other side of Batur you can see two other volcanoes. For this tour they ask Rp60,000-70,000 (all day). All these prices apply to a group (maximum four people) and reflect first offers only.
     At least six guides work in Toya Bungkah. Consider I Nyoman Toto ("Charlie"), whom you'll meet sooner or later if you hang around Amertha's. Nyoman Mertha works in Marini's in the village center opposite Under the Volcano. He's very bright, has studied university level history and geography, and speaks good English. Ketut Lanus, a pleasant and honest man, also leads tours. Jero Wijaya (Toya Bungkah, Box 01, Kintamani 80652) is very knowledgeable about the volcanic history of the area. Your losmen can also arrange for a guide.

You can attempt the climb from many different directions. As a rule, always take the widest, most obvious and worn path, not necessarily the most direct.
     The easiest approach is from the northwest, beginning at Toya Mampeh. This climb, by way of the volcano's back door, can also begin from the west at Kintamani. Guides here ask Rp25,000 for one to two people plus around Rp5000 for each additional person. If you start on the path from Puri Astina at 0630, you can climb the volcano, rest in the hot springs, and grab a bemo back to Kintamani by 1200 or 1300. You can also hire horses in Kintamani, more difficult to arrange in Penelokan, Kedisan, or Toya Bungkah.
     It's also possible to ascend the volcano directly from Kedisan, though this is an unrelentingly steep climb. Simply walk 20 minutes out of town in the direction of the mountain and follow signs on the left directing you to the trail. Don't be alarmed when the trail branches off; they all lead to the same place. Just keep walking uphill.
     You can also start from the northeast. Drive or walk seven km on the good road west from Toya Bungkah to Toya Mampeh; on the way climb up through the lava fields on the volcano's northern side, a product of a 1974 eruption. This new track, circling the base of Gunung Batur, allows vehicles to ascend to within a 30-minute walk of the mountain's largest and highest crater, Batur I. To get there from Toya Bungkah, take the road northeast toward Songan, then turn left after about three km. Follow this road for about two km to a track on the left, which then climbs another two km to a parking area at Serongga.
     One of two "tourist" approaches starts from Pura Jati. In this lakeside village, about three km southwest of Toya Bungkah, a big sign marks the start of the trail. Two shadeless hours up and 1.5 hours down. Or go up from Pura Jati but descend via Toya Bungkah, passing through a beautiful pine forest. As your reward, soak in the air panas in Toya Bungkah.
     The hike from Toya Bungkah is the most popular. If you start at 0400, you'll make it to the peak of Gunung Batur in time for the sunrise. The climbs from Toya Bungkah and Pura Jati end in exactly the same spot, so ascend one way and descend the other. From Penelokan take a bemo to Toya Bungkah (Rp1000) or the boat from Kedisan. From Toya Bungkah, walk the gully with the rocky entrance behind the WC on the other side of Under the Volcano's parking lot (follow the sign). The path veers to the left; just keep going up. Half the climb is through a man-made eucalyptus forest. A group of locals—men with sodas in a bucket and would-be boy guides—will follow any tourist who takes this path. Sometimes they block the trail with plywood barriers, hoping to confuse you or force you to hire them. Ignore this behavior. Take the same trail down. Runoffs may lead to cliff edges and deadends and you may have to backtrack.

Climbing It
Though a strenuous ascent, Gunung Batur is the easiest Bali volcano to climb—you can drive to the base and you don't have to struggle through vegetation. Regardless of your approach, tackle the mountain only in good weather. It's coolest when overcast, but the climb is not recommended in the rainy season (Nov.-March). No matter the weather, make sure you have sturdy shoes; it's slippery near the top. Wear long pants and a warm sweater, windbreaker, or sweatshirt. Start up the scoria- and pumice-strewn slope by at least 0600. Take sunscreen and water to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
     As you start your ascent locals try to sell you drinks. When you say you don't need any, they'll accompany you anyway. As you get higher and higher you grow more and more thirsty. When you finally reach the top you realize you've bought all their drinks without really intending to. So bring your own food and water (two liters) or be prepared to pay for the most expensive drinks on Bali—Rp3000 for a soda and Rp2500 for a plastic bottle of water. It always amazes people when they find three warung on top of Batur's north crater, serving pancakes or jaffles (Rp2000) and reasonable tea and coffee (Rp500-700).
     As you climb, the towering mountain is frequently hidden by dense fog and mist, revealing the summit momentarily, then surrounding it again. The way is well trodden, well marked, and well maintained, but if you get lost don't expect anyone to show you the way without exacting payment. And, unless you're a very experienced mountaineer, be sure to hire a guide at Rp10,000-15,000 if you intend to tackle Batur in the dark.

The Summit
There could be 100 people on the summit, but this is likely to occur only in the tourist season. Most tourists are guided to the sandy top of the middle crater. The topmost crater to the north is another hour's climb, along a narrow rim only one meter wide, and the view isn't as fine. At the top there's a small shrine to Vishnu. See the sun slowly lighting the whole lake, catch glimpses of Gunung Rinjani on Lombok to the east. Peer into the volcano's steaming core and sit awhile on warm rocks. Take in the sweeping panorama across the shimmering waters of the lake, spot the rivers of lava diverted by huge boulders. Look for relatively recent, all-black lava flows, lava tubes, and parasitic cones. From the southern rim take the trail down inside the crater to the bat cave. If you intend to stay in the Batur region for just a day, get down in Toya Bungkah by 1300 or you may have to spend a lot of money chartering a bemo up to Penelokan. Allow time to bathe in the cool lake or in Toya Bungkah's hot springs below—just what you need.
     Note: With your own transport, the four-hour up-and-back climb can be made in a single day from Denpasar or Ubud. If you leave Ubud at 0630, it takes just an hour to drive to Lake Batur via Penelokan, then start climbing by 0800 and you're back down to the lake by noon. (Don't pay more than Rp30,000 one-way for a chartered bemo from Ubud to Penelokan.) If you leave Ubud at 0300, you get to the base of the mountain at around 0400 and arrive at the summit just in time for the sunset.