Mount Batur Trekking in Bali Island Indonesia13 March 2014
According to volcanologists a caldera is formed when the magma chambers of a volcano empty, causing the area that was not blown out to collapse. This happened not only once, but twice, -30,000 and 20,000 years ago. The highest point of the first caldera’s rim is Gunung Abang (2152 m). Inside the double caldera is a new volcano, Gunung Batur, a beautiful and tranquil crater lake at 1000 m.
Scientists may have their theories and hypotheses on volcanoes, the Balinese have their own story on how Mount and Lake Batur were created.
The Balinese, in their would view trying to balance good and evil, were tolerant and forgiving probably knowing that not all evil could be eradicated-up to a point….
Breath-taking views of the sacred Lake Batur and the surrounding region combined with a choice of four craters to visit makes Kbo Iwo’s mound a trekker’s paradise. Early morning is the best time to reach the summit, in time for the sunrise (around 6 a.m.). From the top, there are views of the highest Balinese volcano, Gunung Agung (3142 m), poking out from behind Gunung Abang.
There are a variety of trails which lead to the summit, so trekkers can pick and choose to meet their own needs and abilities. There is never any shortage of people offering their services as trekkers, it’s best to take a local guide. The shortest climb, which leads to Crater I (the highest crater) is from the north. Transportations should be organized to Serongga. There is a clearly marked turn off on the road from Songan to Toya Mampeh. From the parking lot it is around 45 minutes to 1 hour to the summit. There are no guides this starting point.
The most common trails to the summit are from the east. Two options are available. On the first, start from the parking lot in Toya Bungkah and set off in a south-westerly direction. For about an hour fallow a forested trek which leads onto a ridge which will eventually take you to the summit near Crater I. The last 20 minutes of this trail are rather soft sand so progress is slow. Be prepared for “two steps forward and one step back.”
About 30 minutes from the top a new path has been opened up apparently in order to avoid the sandy stretch. It zigzags up the slope until you reach the summit somewhat further to the north. At the ends of the two paths at the summit there are bamboo stalls serving tea, coffee and soft drinks, quite nice on a chilly morning. Roughly one to two hours are required for and ascent and 60 to 90 minutes for the return trip.
An alternative and much easier path starts from the village of Pura Jati, located between Toya Bungkah and Kedisan. It is difficult to miss the starting point as it is clearly indicated by a large billboard. This trails wanders through the 1963 lava flow, which is still conspicuous on account of the lack of vegetation, and leads to Crater II, the middle crater.
From the western part of the middle crater area, there is pleasant view of the active Craters III and IV; the latter recently formed in 1994. The hike from Pura Jati to the middle crater takes over an hour.
From the Crater II area you can hike up the steep southern slope of Crater I and then walk up the rim to the northern side. This part is only for fit trekkers not suffering from vertigo. A stretch of this rim is only 30-40 cm wide, with nothing really to hold on to and 150 m of very steep walls on both sides. Do not attempt this in wet conditions.
From those seeking a longer and more adventurous trek of about 7-8 hours, the east-west approach is recommended. Prior to starting out, it is essential to check that this entire route is open again since it was blocked following the November 1997 eruption. Starting from Toya Bungkah with a knowledgeable guide head towards Crater I as described above. Once at the summit, descend in a westerly direction to Toya Mampeh where there is another lava field, the result of a phreatic (side vent) crater with came into existence in 1964. This pitch black lava field is now mined for the porous pumices. From Toya Mampeh a trail winds upwards to the caldera rim and the mountain village of Kintamani from where you have a tremendous view of what Kbo Iwo had once created.
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