Photographer Rahim Rahmat treks up Bali’s highest volcano
FOR the locals, Bali’s highest volcano, Gunung Agong, is home to the island’s most sacred Hindu temple, Pura Besakih. But for adventure trekkers, the 3,142m mountain promises a magical sunrise and mountain views, and a challenging climb!
1pm: THE JOURNEY STARTS
It’s already high noon when we land at Ngurah Rai International Airport, about 13km from the exotic island’s capital, Denpasar.
We take a leisurely drive from the airport through the beautiful countryside since our climb is only at night.
We pass vegetable farms at Danau Batur, Bali’s largest crater lake which is a part of Mount Batur’s massive caldera. As our vehicle gets closer to Pura Besakih, the starting point of the trek, the majestic Gunung Agung looms into view. Pura Besakih, the most popular starting point, is the most sacred Hindu temple in Bali. It’s located in the village of Besakih, about an hour’s drive from Danau Batur.
9pm: FINAL BRIEFING
Just before the trek starts, we are given a final briefing and do a spot check on equipment. We are told that the trekking will start at midnight and it will take about seven hours to reach the peak. If we keep our pace, we should be able to see the sunrise from the peak.
12am: MIDNIGHT START
A midnight start is vital for us to reach the summit, to view the sky changing its colours and the sun rising from the horizon.
But it’s difficult climbing in the dark. With only the light from the headlamps, we become easily disoriented.
The first part of the climb is a straight walk with no bends and twists. From lush jungle, the trek continues to forests of pine trees and conifers. But during the final part, from 2,400m altitude, it’s a bare, black and rocky landscape. The final leg to the peaks —- and there are three — is a bit more difficult but the view and the sense of getting there are worth it.
We reach the first peak, then the second about half an hour later. We conquered the final peak at 9.30am. We slowly make our way down at 11am. Since it was dark when we ascended, the descend gives us the opportunity to view the countryside. With a lot of photo stops, we reach Pura Besakih just a couple of hours before the sun sets for the day.
We move from the mountains to the beach. It’s the day we put aside our hiking boots. It’s a leisurely day for us, and Kuta, the tourist-infested beach, doesn’t disappoint.
Just before we bid farewell to exotic Bali, we do a round of last-minute shopping at the busy bazaars. Shopping here may be very touristy but the goods we bag home are all worth it.