Bali is known all over the world for its breathtaking scenery, the beaches, the diving, the surfing and fun. People don’t come to Bali to climb mountains. But when they hear they are overshadowed by a mountain which is in truth a volcano, and that this is also the highest peak in Bali, they soon change their mind and venture out on the slopes.
Agung story starts before the climb
Our story begins on the morning before our venture. Tony, Caty and I have been talking about climbing the Agung for a few days. Since this was our penultimate day in Bali, we had to climb it the next morning. At first we could not find an agency with a reasonable price to organize us a tour. We continued searching until we ran into a guy who gave us a good price. While Tony and I were discussing if we should accept the price, he lowered it a bit more and, of course, who could say no to that. We had a deal, and were to leave around 11pm.
We split up and went for a rest and some sleep. You can be sure we did none of that. We roamed around Amed and found a good party, which is extremely rare for the place. We decided to stop along and have a beer, I had two. Unwillingly we left the party, got our bags, while I packed some extra stuff that I did not want to reach the top without. We waited for a car and Tony, Caty and me were on the way to conquer Bali.
A little bit of sleep, a few conversations with the driver, and we were there around 12 o’clock, at the place where the climb begins – the Pura Pasar Agung temple. We have prepared all of our gear and while waiting for our guide, we looked up and saw the stars – it was beautiful and everything around us was pitch black. I started thinking about how amazing it must be at the top.
The guide arrived and we started walking, and were soon at the temple entrance. The guides stopped us so they could say their prayers. They were praying we would arrive at the top safely and for the gods to forgive us if we do any warm to the mountain.
During the eruptions 1963-1964 Pura Besakih was missed just by few meters. Locals claim it was simply gods displaying their powers
There is another temple from where the climb also begins – the Pura Besakih, which was spared during the eruptions of 1963-1964, when the lava missed the temple just by a few meters. Locals claim it was simply the gods displaying their powers by not destroying the temple.
The guides finished their prayers and we started the ascent. Along the way we overtook several people, and had the feeling that our group was the fastest one. I have to say that during my travels I has been eating and drinking too much, and did not have enough activities. Where did I feel it the most? While climbing the Agung, of course. At the beginning it was easy, but later it would get steeper and steeper, dirt paths changed to rocks and the temperature was getting lower.
While we were climbing we joined another group of people, and in that group there was this really obnoxious girl from America. Every conversation that I tried to have with anybody else she would jump into, and explain how she did this and how she did that. Maybe I would not hate her as much if she had not destroyed my photo at the top of the mountain with her photobomb. I noticed it while I was checking it on my computer – ooops, too late.
While we were walking I checked the sky a few times and noticed something strange and thought to myself: “impossible”. But yeah, it was the milky way! It didn’t look like what you see in photos, but a lot weaker. The rest of the people said it was just a cloud but when they looked at it a bit better they agreed with me.
As time passes every step is heavier and heavier, and I felt more and more tired. I have to admit one thing: I was the slowest one in our group. As trouble never comes alone, my flashlight decided to slowly die. When the rest of the pack turned around it was hard to see me and they started yelling “Milooo” (although my real name is Miloš, pronounced Meelosh) as I was going through the trail with the little light that I had. I switched my flashlight and continued our journey, and again I continued to be slow. When they saw I was a long way behind, they started yelling and I would yell back telling them that I’m still there and alive.
Reaching the top of the volcano
During the trip the guides stopped at a few more places for more prayers. It’s really nice to see that, it is not done for the tourists, it’s done because they really believe.
After 5 hours of walking we came out of the woods onto the rocks where there is almost no trail, you just need to find an optimal way and this is really difficult. On the way up we noticed a few people who started the climb a lot earlier, and now they were sleeping near the top because they started up too early.
After 5 hours of walking we came out of the woods onto the rocks where there is almost no trail
We could see the top, but it seemed like the 15 minute climb was more like a one hour climb. Some more climbing and then we noticed we are almost at the top, and you get this rush of adrenaline while you look all around. We were above the sky! This was the first time I was up this high, not in an airplane! The guides prepared us breakfast and tea, so we could replenish our strength and get a bit refreshed. The sun was coming out, a magnificent sight, and it was going up relatively quickly. The color of the sky changed from black to dark blue, blue, purple, orange and the very known yellow! You could hear the sighs all around and finally everybody was rewarded for the trouble they went through. We noticed a few monkeys around, who seemed to live there, and they didn’t look surprised to see us. From the top you can see the Rinjani mountain on the island of Lombok, mostly through the clouds, and on the other side you can see the lights of Denpasar.
The guides started their prayers at the miniature temple at the top. When our guide finished the prayer, I showed him what I had in the bag – 4 cans of Bintag (Indonesian Beer). First he could not believe the fact that I carried it to the top, and then started yelling “BINTAGAAAANG” and all of a sudden there were more guides around us and everybody started yelling. While we were drinking they explained that “bintang” means star.
I thought ascend was hard but descend is nothing easier
When the sun warmed us a bit and all the guides finished their prayers, we started our way back. I was thinking it’s was going to be much easier than going up, but boy was I wrong. Every step was a knee killer – step by step. Again I was last in the group. I went to this trip with about 85kg and was in shape, and I came home with almost 100kg and in no shape at all. Well, it was mostly a pear shape. There are no excuses for not training. Too much of the travel life.
On a few occasions I noticed I recognize parts of the trail, and I thought we were close and was hoping that at every moment we would reach the Pura Pasar Agung temple, but that happened in little over an hour.
Slowly I could see parts of the temple and finally we had arrived.
What was the best part of this venture?
When did it feel the best? When we reached the temple at the bottom. Why? Because the view of the top of the mountain was amazing, looking at it through the temple entrance. Thinking that a few hours ago we were at the top, at the top of the vulcano above the clouds! That feeling gave me a sense of accomplishment!
We said our goodbyes to the guide, gave him a few extra rupees and started our way back, feeling very happy. Happy that, for us, traveling is not only partying and getting drunk, but seeing places like this, places that will always stay in our memories. Bules went to the top of Bali!
And yeah, I was trying to tell Tony that we should go with our motorbikes to the temple and ask for the guides there, but we were lucky we did not! I could not feel my legs and sitting on a bike after all that night’s climbing would be a stupid way to die.