I hiked up Mt. Agung today, my second mountain in 5 days in Bali. This is an active stratovolcano and the highest point in the island of Bali at an elevation of 10,308ft. To avoid an obstructed view from the top, and the crazy heat of the day, we began the hike at around 2:00 am with plans to reach the top before sunrise. We climbed a total of 5,280ft in 3.5 hours! We took the route from Pura Pasar Agung, where the trail begins with a series of staircases near a temple and continues through open forest and beautiful and lush green jungle. The last 3,000 feet or so are on very rocky terrain and super exposed. Speaking a bit about the religious significance of this mountain… it all starts with Mt. Meru; which is very important in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmology in which it is seen to be the center of the universe in a spiritual, physical, and metaphysical sense. Mt. Agung is considered to be a replica of Mt. Meru. A legend says that this mountain is a fragment of Mt. Meru brought to Bali by the first Hindus. Pura Besakih, the most important temple in Bali is located in the slopes of the mountain. Many come here to worship the gods. At the top of the mountain you find a beautiful shrine with different statues of gods with offerings of incense sticks, different colored petals (for the different elements), and nicely woven tiny palm-leaf trays. I wanted to pay my respects and say thank you to the mountain for allowing me to climb it. I had never hiked a mountain so steep and in the dark. In a way, it was better to not see beyond a few feet in front of us to avoid realizing how exposed we were. We had yet another fantastic sunrise in Bali with no clouds at the top of Mt. Agung and a perfect view of Mt. Rinjani on the island of Lombok and other nearby islands.
I enjoyed and had the pleasure of meeting Iza and Hampus from Sweden and Lana from New Zealand. After the hike we went to have lunch at a restaurant with a spectacular view of Mt. Agung and rice paddies.
This hike was definitely one of the hardest ones that I have done in my life. It was a good mental and physical challenge and one that I would recommend to any traveler and nature lover. Mt. Agung is important, not only for its religious significance to the Balinese, but also for its geological importance for Indonesia, as one of the five highest mountains and active volcanoes of the archipelago.