With any road travelled in Bali you’ll need two things; an Alexander Supertramp passion for adventure and two packets of Oreos. You’re going to get lost, you’ll be told to go in the opposite direction and Google maps isn’t really a map so much as a rough guide. It feels very cliché to say the adventure lies in the journey, but it really is.
Mt Agung is the highest and most spiritual point in Bali and because of this, all Balinese must take this pilgrimage once in their life. It’s home to the Gods. I have figured out why the Gods live there – because it’s SO HIGH and there is no reception therefore no one really bothers them (these Gods are smart). It’s also about 20 degrees colder than anywhere else in Bali.
My solo adventure started out as friends bailing on the trek at the last minute however my spirits were not dampened and I decided I would carry on with the climb. Seemingly hostage style, I get into a car with two men at 10pm and off we go up into the mountains. We stopped on the way to “pray” at which point I thought I was a goner. It turns out they really were praying. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive…so be sure to take headphones and a sarong to wrap around your face if you want to nap.
Arriving in a deserted carpark, I am dropped to what I am convinced is a rural version of Bate’s Motel with a single lightbulb swinging from the roof and all men sitting out front. Cue Wayan, an insanely fit guide who takes on the climb four times a week. It’s no wonder his calf muscles are bigger than me! His two dogs “Blacky” and “Whitey” join us on the pursuit. Wayan says the dogs pick and choose the mornings they join him on the trek so I feel quite honoured.
It’s 20 minutes in and I am sweating up a storm. As we stop for some water and a snack, I ask Wayan if it gets much steeper. He laughs hysterically and explains that we haven’t yet cleared the tree line and that once we reach the base of the summit I will be crawling on my hands and knees. At this point I am not sure if he is joking… but he said summit which sounded really mountain-y.
It’s a test of not only your physical ability but will power. I’m the girl that eats a whole block of chocolate and forgoes a morning alarm to “run” which in actual fact is just walking briskly snap chatting. So at this point it’s a godsend when I meet a girl, Liz from Sydney, at the very spot she gave up four years earlier and waited for her group to return. All of a sudden there are forces joined and it’s a “get Liz to the top” campaign. I would have made signs if I had a texta.
Be aware that Mt Agung is not your friend if you give up easily. You are your own worst enemy on the climb. I think a few times I fantasised about breaking my leg so that I could have been airlifted out. However it’s worth all the sweat, as no words or photographs will prepare you for how mind blowingly beautiful life is at 3031 metres.
I breathe in the crisp air and incense as the guides around us bless our safe arrival. We drink hot chocolates waiting for the sun to wake up. Liz looks euphoric. I have a moment where I want my unborn children and their unborn children’s unborn children to do this climb. I feel alive as I watched swirls of colour I have never seen before perched quite literally above the clouds.
The road back down is hell and maybe that’s because I’d eaten all my Mentos, but I promise by the time you get to the car Mt Agung will be back up from two to five stars on your own 'My Bali Bible' guidebook. It took 11 hours in total. But if you have a moderate level of fitness it would be less. Anyone will return from this experience with a stronger passion for adventure (and sweet glorious sleep). Next trek (yes I would do this again) is the bad boy of Lombok, Mt Rinjani sitting at a Godly 3726 metres.
If you feel like a challenge hit up Wayan via firstname.lastname@example.org or browse the link below. A guide, breakfast, head lamps and trekking poles are provided. There are three treks to choose from, with the newest way up only being found a few years back and taking you higher than the rest. The treks run like clockwork every day (dry season favoured) and are shared between 28 guides. Prices start from 750,000k and don’t forget to tip your guide.
Written by Laura Buck, a good friend of The Bali Bible.
Enjoy more of our up and coming articles written by Laura Buck. Each post features Laura and her travelling companions heading to various parts of undiscovered Bali, to relatively unplanned and beautiful locales – experiencing the sights, sounds, and culture of the Balinese people.