Bali sits directly on the world’s ‘ring of fire’, its famous volcanic mountains forming a craggy east-west backbone across the island.
At 3,014 metres high, Gunung (Mount) Agung is Bali’s tallest and holiest mountain, its magnificent summit dominating much of the island. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is the dwelling place of the gods, with Pura Besakih, the island’s largest and most important Hindu temple located on its slopes and attracting both pilgrims and tourists. The Balinese treat this volcano with the greatest respect and even sleep with their heads facing in its direction. Temple shrines are dedicated to its spirit, offerings and cremation mounds are formed in its shape, and water from its sacred springs is the holiest and most sought after for temple rites. In March 1963, after lying dormant for 120 years, Gunung Agung erupted catastrophically and with such force that the top 100 metres was blown apart. The earth rumbled and shook and putrid black smoke shot into the air, accompanied by deafening explosions and blinding white flashes. For more than 50 years now, this sleeping monster has been at peace, presenting a challenging and fulfilling experience for mountain lovers and trekkers. 68 kilometres from InterContinental Bali Resort.
Gunung Batur, Bali’s most-visited and most-climbed volcano, is a still active, and you can often see steam puffing out of vents near the summit. It rests within the gigantic 11-kilometre-wide caldera of an ancient, extinct volcano. The caldera is reminiscent of a huge soup bowl with a serrated lip, a floor half covered in water – Lake Batur, and a set of volcanic cones budding in the centre. At 1,717 metres high, Mt Batur is Bali’s second most sacred mountain after Mt Agung, and has erupted 22 times since 1804. In fact, one side of the mountain is covered with a black lava field that formed during the eruption of 1974. Visitors flock to the locality, known as Kintamani, to enjoy an Indonesian buffet lunch in one of the many restaurants that sit on the ancient crater rim, offering astonishing views of the mountain and the lake. Also positioned on the rim of the caldera is Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Bali’s the second most important temple, dedicated to Dewi Danu, goddess of lakes and rivers. The temple was originally situated at the foot of the volcano but was destroyed by the violent eruption of 1926 and subsequently rebuilt on the rim. The upper cone of this mountain can be climbed in two hours. Upon reaching the top, while you relish the wonderful aerial view of the lake and neighbouring mountains, your guide will prepare a unique breakfast of baked bananas and hardboiled eggs cooked to perfection in the natural heat of the volcano. After the descent, the hot springs on the shore of Lake Batur are perfect for easing aching limbs. 70 kilometres from InterContinental Bali Resort.
Gunung Batukaru (sometimes spelt Batukau) in the Tabanan Regency is the island’s second highest peak and Western Bali’s axis mundi, defining the ‘kaja-kelod’, mountain-sea orientation of the architecture and rites. Located in an area that boasts the greatest biological diversity in Bali, its higher alpine slopes are filled with mountain streams, ferns, wildflowers, creepers and orchids, as well as the rare, black, leaf-eating monkey, small forest deer, butterflies, flying lizards, the landak (porcupine) and the lubak (mongoose). The area is also a birdwatchers’ paradise. Here, local guides lead visitors on anything from gentle hikes through the food forests to challenging treks to the 2,276-metre summit. The breathtaking view from the top extends across all of Bali’s nine regencies. On a clear day, the central and eastern volcanoes make a dramatic appearance to create a backdrop to the stage. High on the slopes of Gunung Batukaru is Pura Luhur Batukau, the‘Lofty Stone Coconut Shell Temple,’ which venerates the deities of mountains and lakes. It is well worth visiting this atmospheric, mystical, and deeply spiritual place, and pausing for a while to contemplate or meditate. 57 kilometres from InterContinental Bali Resort.
Well off the beaten track, Gunung Catur (sometimes spelt Catu) is an extinct volcano that stands on the eastern side of the picturesque, alpine reminiscent, Lake Beratan (Bratan) in Bedugul. This stunningly beautiful area is a well-known destination on the tourist map, with three lakes, waterfalls, and a botanical garden. A mystical temple, known as Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, appears to float upon the waters of the lake; you’ll find images of this temple, often shrouded in mist, on every postcard rack in Kuta. At 2,096 metres high, Mt Catur is the fourth-highest mountain in Bali, and is popular with climbers, despite the dense forest that covers its slopes. The hike takes approximately three hours up with gorgeous scenery during the journey. You will see long-tailed monkeys, as well as passing various shrines, and the remains of sites where the Dutch used to go for their weekend retreats. The view from the summit, looking down over the lake is truly spectacular, and the top is also the setting of a temple called Pura Pucak Mangu, which is still actively visited by Balinese Hindus. 73 kilometres from InterContinental Bali Resort.
At an elevation of 1090 metres, Gunung Seraya towers over Bali’s most easterly coast. If you are interested in a gentle hike, start at the village of Bangle on the mountain’s eastern slope, in the company of a guide, and trek to Toye Masem – the five sacred springs, which are all within close proximity to each other. Each source is guarded by a shrine, and each one is purported to spout a different taste, yielding varying degrees of sweet, sour, and bitter flavours. The ambitious can aim for the summit of the mountain, which challenges even the most experienced hikers, but at the top you will be treated to a breathtaking vista of more of the island’s mountains and the sea. If you choose to take a tour to this area, you will also be able to view the enchanting Pura Ayu temple and take a dip in the spine-tingling cold spring pools of Tirta Gangga. 91 kilometres from InterContinental Bali Resort.
If you wish to trek any of these mountains, or visit the mountain-temples or the areas in which they are located, InterContinental Bali Resort’s unique brand concept ‘In the Know,’ is proud to offer insider destination tips. Treks and excursions can be arranged through the Resort’s concierge.
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