When it comes to sunrise treks, Mount Batur is our most popular trek and for good reason. First of all, the slopes are not as steep and arduous as those on Mount Agung, so even amateur trekkers can tackle them. Second of all, it only takes about two and a half hours to reach the peak of Batur compared to seven or eight hours to reach the peak of Agung. That being said, Mount Batur is still an active volcano, so safety is our top priority. Thankfully the good people at the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides have our backs.
Despite what some people may tell you, it is not possible to climb Mount Batur (or any other volcano in Bali) without a certified local guide. Sure, back in the day intrepid trekkers could forge ahead on their own, but as injuries and fatalities on the mountains began to rise, the government made it mandatory for all trekkers to take a local guide. Today trekkers must check in with the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides before beginning a climb up Batur, and the organisation will assign one guide for up to a maximum of four trekkers.
Made Sukarmi Asih is one of our most requested guides and the first female guide to join the organisation. Today there are over 600 guides in the association but just 10 women. Made says, “We often encounter people who don’t understand why they need a guide, and so we have to explain to them that it’s not just about money. We know the safest routes up and have a good relationship with the volcanologists, so they alert us when they see abnormal seismic activity. We also have first aid training and can help in an emergency, and we can tell people about the history and geology of the mountain.
“Another thing that many people don’t realise is that for Balinese Hindus Mount Batur is one of the most sacred spots on the island, so we have a huge responsibility to respect the spirits and the temples here. For example, if an accident happens on the mountain, it could provoke bad spirits, and then we would have to make a big ceremony. Therefore we try to prevent any accidents from happening for humanitarian and spiritual reasons.”
Like Made, nearly every member of the organisation comes from the Kintamani region and has been climbing the mountain since they were children, so they know the trails and vents of the volcano like the back of their hands. After rigorous training, they can apply for a guiding license and then join the ranks of guides on the mountain every morning. They must also attend meetings every month to evaluate the previous month’s service and to discuss any issues that might have come up.
Ketut Kade is one of the founders of the association and also one of 18 leaders responsible for managing the guides. He believes that their role is much larger than simply guiding people up the mountain. He says, “Before the association was founded, anybody could be a guide and that caused problems with competition between freelance guides and friction between guides and guests. We wanted to create a better image for the area, and also to support the community by creating jobs and income that would trickle back to the farmers and fishermen.
The fees that guests pay to take a guide up the mountain go partly to the government, partly to pay the guides’ monthly salaries, and partly towards social endeavours. Ketut says, “In Bali we follow the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which means harmony between humans and other humans, humans and nature, and humans and God. That is why we also do extra activities like helping people with disabilities, cleaning rubbish off the mountain, and making big ceremonies at least once a year to honour the spirits on the mountain.”
Bali Sunrise Trekking & Tours has a tight relationship with the Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides. In fact, Bali Sunrise founder Gede Mangun was also one of the original founders of the guide association. When you book any trek or tour with us, we make sure that you are assigned a qualified guide who will not only get you up and down the mountain safely, but who will also make your trip as hassle-free and memorable as possible. And the fee for the guide is always included in the total trekking package, so there are no hidden costs.