Volcanoes in Bali: The Ultimate Guide

Alexis
Modified on January 21, 2024

Volcanoes are a must see in Bali. But there is more to see than Batur and Agung. Here are all the volcanoes in Bali.

Some reminders and advice about the volcanoes and mountains of Bali

Before discussing the different volcanoes and mountains of Bali, it is essential to recall certain facts about the volcanoes of Bali and their ascent.

Not all volcanoes in Bali are active

Indonesia in general, and Bali in particular, are located on the Ring of Fire. Therefore, there is a plethora of active volcanoes in Indonesia. There are a total of 128 mountains classified as volcanoes in Indonesia, and 80 of them are still active.

In Bali, there are "only" two active volcanoes: Mount Agung and Mount Batur.

But the other volcanoes and mountains of Bali are often the result of the volcanic activity of the island. And the lakes are also very often calderas.

Not all volcanoes and mountains in Bali are marked

Most Balinese live away from the volcanoes and mountains in general, which are the least populated areas of the island.

Consequently, except for Mount Batur, which has been marked and organized for tourism, and to a much lesser extent Mount Agung, some volcanoes and mountains on this list are not at all touristy and climbed very little, even by locals.

What may seem nice at first glance is much less so when you take into account that the less touristy ones do not necessarily have marked paths, that you have to cross the jungle or rivers, with all the possibilities of problems that can entail.

Dangers on Balinese volcanoes are numerous

Remember that climbing a volcano, like going to the mountains, remains an activity that can be dangerous, especially in a country like Indonesia.

The risks and scenarios that turn a hike into a nightmare are quite numerous:

  • Sudden weather changes (especially on Mount Agung)
  • Severe falls and injuries
  • Bites from snakes or insects (many volcanoes involve crossing the jungle)
  • Landslides and landslips in the rainy season
  • Getting lost and not finding the way
  • Being exhausted and unable to descend
  • Being in the middle of an eruption (very unlikely in Bali, but it has happened elsewhere)

In short, on the volcanoes of Bali, just like in the mountains, you have to stay humble, choose mountains adapted to your level, go at the right time, be minimally prepared, and know how to turn back when things don't go as planned.

Unfortunately, there are accidents every year, especially on Mount Agung.

Recently, an American died during a hike on Agung for his birthday, a few years ago a Swede fell into the crater of Batur, and others got quite scared after attempting the ascent of Agung, getting lost, and ending up exhausted and without supplies on a volcano that was then off-limits due to an eruption!

Keep in mind that every time there is a serious problem (someone unable to return alone), locals organize and send a team to bring the injured down.

It is also important to remember that the Indonesian healthcare system is not a universal system, and it is essential to be well insured if you start climbing volcanoes.

You cannot always climb volcanoes or mountains alone in Bali

The risk of certain volcanoes or their popularity means that some volcanoes can only be climbed with guides. This is especially the case for Mount Agung and Mount Batur.

The goals are multiple:

  • Avoid serious or fatal accidents
  • Avoid unnecessary rescue interventions
  • Provide employment to locals in the area

For less touristy volcanoes, there are, of course, far fewer guides to accompany you. But since they are poorly marked, or not at all, it is better to have a guide anyway.

Getting lost in vertical jungle at 32°C is really not funny! I know people to whom it happened, and since then, they prefer to pay for guides.

Bali's volcanoes are best climbed in the dry season

The last point not to neglect when it comes to volcanoes or mountains in general in Bali is the period in which you want to climb. If you are unsure, read this article.

In the rainy season, most volcanoes will be very muddy, slippery, with heavy rainfalls and significant risks of slips and landslides. All this, for views often not great due to clouds.

While most of the time this is not a big problem for small volcanoes like Batur, avoid climbing Mount Agung or venturing alone on lesser-known mountains in the rainy season.

Mount Agung: the largest active volcano in Bali

mount agung bali

Mount Agung is the main volcano in Bali, and it is still active.

The volcano is simply massive, extremely impressive. It is visible from almost everywhere in Bali when the weather is clear. When you approach its feet, you realize the size of the beast and the consequences of an eruption for the surrounding villages, but also for the rest of Bali.

It is an explosive volcano that is particularly dangerous. During eruptions, Mount Agung projects hot clouds capable of burying entire villages and sends tons of rocks into the air for kilometers. Its lahars, the muddy flows, are also very feared.

The Balinese elders who experienced the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 can tell you that the color of Bali's sky completely changed for weeks after its eruption. The world climate had also dropped between 0.1 to 0.4°C. Just like that.

Mount Agung is a sacred mountain in Bali, a deity that you better not anger, otherwise, it quickly makes you understand that you are nothing compared to its power.

The Pura Besakih, the mother temple of Bali, miraculously spared by the 1963 eruptions, is located at the foot of Mount Agung and is one of the starting points for its hiking trail to the summit.

Ascent of Mount Agung

Mount Batur looks like a dwarf from Mount Agung

There are two main ways to reach the summit of Mount Agung:

By the main route starting from the Pura Besakih temple (approximately 7-8 hours)
By the South slope, starting from the Pura Pasar Agung temple (approximately 6 hours)

The one from Pura Besakih is longer but a bit less steep. The South slope route doesn't take you to the true highest summit (you're still at the crater), but it is shorter and steeper.

In both cases, the ascent is very challenging, and many experienced trekkers describe it as tough and dangerous. The ascent is usually done at night to witness the sunrise, adding significant risks.

The path is very steep, taking you through the heat of the jungle at the beginning and then over rugged stones and cold during the second phase of the ascent.

If the jungle part is relatively safe on the ascent (much less on the descent), the rocky part is much less safe, especially at night, and involves a lot of climbing. During my ascent, I saw people accidentally falling with somersaults from 3-meter-high rocks to other rocks... quite frightening.

To give an idea of the success rate of the ascent via Pura Pasar Agung, barely 25% reached the summit on the day I climbed it. Personally, I wanted to give up 20 times.

The 3-4 hours of ascent sometimes mentioned on certain sites are overly optimistic. I took a solid 5 hours, and I am athletic, even though I am not an experienced trekker. To do it in 3-4 hours, as I sometimes read, you need to be Kilian Jornet!

The view at the summit is, of course, absolutely incredible if you still have enough energy to appreciate it.

Technical details of Mount Agung

  • Volcano type: Stratovolcano, explosive
  • Active / Non-active: Active, last eruption in 2019
  • Altitude: 3,031m (prepare for warm clothing!)
  • Possible to climb: Yes, when not erupting
  • Experience required for ascent: Very athletic and/or good trekker
  • Trek popularity: Relatively popular, but not many people at the summit due to difficulty

Location of Mount Agung

Mount Batur: The most climbed volcano in Bali

Mount Batur Bali

Mount Batur is another active volcano in Bali but much less impressive and massive than its brother, Mount Agung.

However, Mount Batur is smaller today primarily because a massive eruption occurred between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago.

The current volcanic complex is, therefore, mainly a set of two calderas with a lake and a volcano in the middle.

But the volcano in the middle (Mount Batur) is still active and is the one that is climbed!

Its last notable eruption was in 2000 when volcanic ash was expelled more than 300 meters into the air!

Today, Mount Batur is by far the most climbed volcano in Bali, almost on the to-do list of every traveler.

Ascent of Mount Batur

Similar to the ascent of Mount Agung, the ascent of Mount Batur generally begins early in the morning, with a flashlight, to witness the sunrise from the summit.

Unlike the ascent of Mount Agung, the ascent of Mount Batur is very easy, much shorter, and clearer. I know people who have even done it in flip-flops (although I do not recommend it)!

In 2 hours from the starting point, you will be at the summit after a relatively moderate effort, even for those who are not very athletic. If you are neither an athlete nor an experienced trekker, the ascent of Mount Batur is perfect for you.

You won't scare yourself; there is little chance of getting hurt, and you will still have an absolutely splendid view from the top.

The major drawback of Mount Batur is that its ease of ascent, safety, and view inevitably attract a crowd. As it is very touristy, you will definitely not be alone. But it's worth it anyway.

Technical details of Mount Batur

  • Volcano type: Stratovolcano in the middle of one of the two calderas
  • Active / Non-active: Active, last eruption in 2000
  • Altitude: 1717m above sea level, but only 700m above the caldera
  • Possible to climb: Yes
  • Experience required: No experience required
  • Trek popularity: Very popular

Location of Mount Batur

Mount Abang: A less crowded trek in the Batur caldera

mount Abang bali

Mount Abang is not a volcano per se. It is, in fact, the highest point of the Batur caldera.

Mount Abang is, moreover, higher than the volcano located in the center of the caldera (Mount Batur itself) as it peaks at 2,152m.

The significant advantage of Mount Abang is that the trek is much less known and therefore much less traveled than the trek on Mount Batur in the middle of the caldera.

The ascent of Mount Abang is relatively easy and does not require exceptional mountaineering skills or impressive physical condition. It usually takes around 4 hours.

In short, it's quite accessible, and you have a view of Mount Batur and its lake, with far fewer tourists around.

At worst, since both are nearby, you can even do Batur AND Abang when you are in the area.

Technical details of Mount Abang

  • Volcano type: Batur caldera ridge
  • Active / Non-active: Not active as such, but Batur is
  • Altitude: 2,152m
  • Possible to climb: Yes
  • Experience required: Not much experience required
  • Trek popularity: Fairly unknown

Location of Mount Abang

Mount Catur / Bratan: a (former) volcano that left a huge caldera... and other volcanoes

The Mount Catur, also known as Mount Bratan, has a history quite similar to Mount Batur but much older.

An ancient volcano named Catur erupted cataclysmically between 500,000 and 1.3 million years ago (yes, the range is wide).

Result: the Buyan Bratan volcanic complex in the Bedugul region, a huge caldera that includes Lake Bratan and its Ulun Danu Beratan temple, Lake Buyan, and Lake Tamblingan.

The original volcano, Mount Catur, which caused all this trouble, is located in the Northeast of the caldera. You can also find it under the name Pucak Mangu.

It can be climbed if you feel like it.

It will only take 3 hours to reach the summit, and the ascent is quite feasible for the average person, even without a guide.

Smaller stratovolcanoes around Bratan are also available near this main caldera: Batukaru (2,276m), Adeng (1,826m), Pohen (2,063m), Sengayang (2,087m), and Lesung (1,865m).

Except for Batukaru, the other volcanoes are rarely climbed for several reasons:

  • The trails are not well known
  • They are in the middle of the jungle
  • The vegetation prevents clear panoramas like Agung or Batur

But if you go there and find people to guide you, you could have a very pleasant hike with very few or no tourists around.

Technical details of Mount Catur

  • Volcano type: Stratovolcano, now a caldera
  • Active / Non-active: Not active
  • Altitude: 2,096m
  • Possible to climb: Yes
  • Experience required: Little with a guide, better to have experience alone
  • Trek popularity: Little known to foreigners, a bit more popular among Balinese

Location of Mount Catur

Mount Batukaru: the second-highest volcano in Bali

Mount Batukaru Bali

The Mount Batukaru is not the most well-known volcano in Bali, yet it is the second-highest on the island at 2,276m.

It is located at the southern end of the Mount Catur caldera. The volcano is not considered active.

Mount Batukaru is a sacred mountain for the Balinese. The Pura Luhur Batukaru temple, located at its base, is one of the most important on the island. Once a year, a pilgrimage takes place from the temple to the summit of Batukaru, where thousands of Hindu devotees gather on its slopes simultaneously.

Mount Batukaru is not the most climbed volcano in Bali, mainly because it is covered in vegetation, and therefore, the visibility at the summit is not as great as for other volcanoes. Nevertheless, it remains the second-highest peak in Bali, making it an interesting ascent for amateur trekkers.

Technical details of Mount Batukaru

  • Volcano type: Ancient stratovolcano
  • Active / Non-active: Not active
  • Altitude: 2,276m
  • Possible to climb: Yes
  • Experience required: Yes
  • Trek popularity: Popular among Balinese, little known to foreign tourists

Location of Mount Batukaru

Mount Merbuk: the least known volcano in Western Bali

Photos of Merbuk are rare, but this video should settle it

The Mount Merbuk is arguably the least known volcano in Bali.

Unlike still active volcanoes like Agung or Batur to the Northeast of Bali, or the Bedugul-area volcanoes mentioned earlier, Mount Merbuk is located to the West of Bali, near the national park.

As it is much lower than the other mountains on this list, it is much warmer, meaning that its ascent is not as straightforward as it may seem.

The place is also known to be an important haven for biodiversity, both friendly and less friendly. It's better to go there with a guide!

Technical details of Mount Merbuk

  • Volcano type: Ancient stratovolcano
  • Active / Non-active: Not active
  • Altitude: 1,386m
  • Possible to climb: Yes
  • Experience required: Yes
  • Trek popularity: Very little known / climbed

Location of Mount Merbuk

Volcanoes of other islands near Bali

Several volcanoes are more or less close to Bali, even if they are not directly on the island.

Among the most popular, we can mention:

  • The Kawa Ijen (2,769m), located on the neighboring island of Java, known for its crater with its acidic lake and sulfur mining.
  • The Mount Rinjani (3,726m) on the island of Lombok. A particularly popular multi-day trek.

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