North Bali Round Trip – Up and Over Mt. Batur

One of Bali’s greatest attributes is its compactness.

In only a few hours one can travel from the island’ s sandy southern shores to the spectacular rim of an active volcano, 1,50 meter (4,750 feet) above sea level, and in so doing observe a broad spectrume of natural and historical wonders.

Up and Over Mt. Batur: In bali there are two passes over the scenic central mountains, via Kintamani and via Bedugul, and the two roads rendezvouz on Bli’s secluded north coast. Most tours simply take you up to Kintamani and back in a single day, but it is more fun to leisurely circumnavigate the island. The entire round trip is ideally accomplished in three stages, with overnights in Ubud and Lovina Beach (just west of Singaraja). Indeed, the journey can easily be stretched out over a week or more, and many people find this to be their  most memorable Bali experience.

Get an early start for the ascent of Mt. Batur, to arrive before the inevitable mountain mists descend to obscure the view. After Tampaksiring (see previous section), the road climbs sharply until bursting finally upon one of the most dramatic sights in Bali: expansive Lake Batur, 100 metre (328 feet) below with the smoking black cone of Mt. Batur rising in the background. This is the village Penelokan (the lookout), perched on the lip of an immense, 20 km (12,5 miles) wide caldera. Lava Laden Batur is a much younger, active volcano set in the centre of the old volcano basin, and the adjacent a third of the basin’s area.

From Penelokan the main road follows the rim of the crater northwards, but there is also a small road that winds down to the lake’s edge. If the mists have not yet rolled in, descend and hire a motorized canoe across the lake to the curious village of Trunyan, one of the few pre-Hindu Bali Aga (original Balinese) enclaves on the island. These mountai people still maintain many ancient customs, the most famous of wihich is the practice of exposing their dead to the elements in a skeleton filled graveyard by the lake. On the way back, stop for a hot sulphur – spring bath at Toya Bungkah, by the foot of Mt. Batur.

Continue north along the caldera’s rim to Kintamani, the village closest to Batur’s menacing cone. In 1917, the volcano erupted violently, claiming 1,000 lives and destroying a village that clung to its slopes, but miraculously leaving the village temple intact. The survivors took this as an auspicious sign and continued to live there. In 1926, another eruption buried the village and the temple, sparing only the shrine to Dewi Danu, goddess of the lake. The villagers resettled higher up at Kintamani, where the shrine now stands in the Pura Ulun Danu temple.

A short distance past Kintamani, the road veers left and begins the precipitious descent to the north coast. Before descending, however, stop and climb up a long flight of step visible on the right, to the peak of Mt. Penulisan. This is the site of Bali’s highest temple, and is believed to have been the mountain sanctuary of the kings of Pejeng. The temple is almost always shrouded in fog, but on a clear day you have a spectacular view all the way to Java.

–> Read Also : North Bali Round Trip – The North Coast

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