Mount Agung

indonesia

Hike with the gods in Bali, if the gods permit it.

Mount Agung is the home of Balinese gods, and any one of its 3 regular ascents can be a challenging and exhilarating distraction from Bali’s more laid back and less wholesome attractions.

Country
indonesia
Height
3,031 m (9,944 ft)
Climbing Height
3,031 m (9,944 ft)
Rank
  • 10th highest in Southeast Asia

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Natural Form and History

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - History

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Geological history

Located in the district of Karangasem, in north-eastern Bali is the island nation’s higher mountain - Mount Agung. Standing 3031 metres above the sea level, it is believed to be the home of the Gods by the Balinese who revere it deeply. It is also the fifth highest volcano in Indonesia. After almost a century in sleep, it erupted in 1962, leading to the most fatal volcanic event in Indonesian history with 15,000 being killed. Even though geologists had considered it not to be a threat anymore, it has been volatile even up to this year. It’s now said to be in ‘deflation mode’ and there is a Level 3 warning issued, meaning no climbing beyond a 4km radius from the crater - the whole summit, for all intents and purposes.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Modern climbing history

Being home to Bali’s Hindu mother temple – the Besakih temple, which is located in the west of the summit – Mount Agung, until very recently, saw Hindus and several pilgrims from Asia and beyond trek to the summit daily, to offer their prayers. Being a demanding yet unforgettable climb, Mount Agung has always been a favourite of visitors - since the 14th century to the present day. Most tourists choose the guided day trip package (bargaining is usually involved). The climb is serious, arduous and involves some risks that can be avoided by using the right clothes and gear. Climbers avoid Mount Agung in January and February as it is very wet. The northern ascent route will need you to camp too.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Current popularity as a climbing destination

Despite its violent history and recurring eruptions, Mount Agung is still a crowd-pleasing mountain that is often climbed by locals and tourists. Around 30,000 people gather every year to summit the mountain due to its popularity and relatively accessibility (before it started erupting again, the caldera was reachable by road). Among all the trails, one from Besakih is the safest and opted by most. No one climbs the mountain in April as religious ceremonies are held then.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Overview of the Trail

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Overall Assessment

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Summary of trail accessibility

Expert mountain climbing skills or specialised equipment is not necessary for climbing Mount Agung. The climb will take anywhere from 7-12 hours depending on the trail. Most trekkers of good fitness levels will be able to tackle the climb. However, trekkers with prior training and dedication would more efficiently be able to tackle the higher altitudes and demanding terrains of dense rainforests and desolate volcanic rock landscapes. The route from Besakih to the summit is especially challenging in the last hour, where you might have to climb on all fours.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Trail options

Number of options
3
Summary

There are 3 different trails to choose from depending on the experience, fitness level and preference of the climber. Climbers wishing for a shorter (yet more demanding) trek taking 3-6 hours can opt for options 1 or 3 whilst climbers looking for a longer but less physically demanding trek can opt for option 2 (this trail takes 10-12 hours).

Walking distance of this trail is approximately 23 km. This trail takes 5-6 hours to complete (with the final hour being the toughest) starting from Besakih temple to the west of the summit. The climb is demanding yet doable for amateur climbers with determination. During the last hour of the route, the terrain is notably rough, often forcing climbers to reach the summit on all fours.

This is the longest yet less physically demanding route starting from the north of the summit and is known to take 10 – 12 hours. This route is mostly recommended for less technically experienced climbers. It starts from 300m altitude and involves a necessary overnight camp at 1700m. Climbers can walk around the crater rim by following this trail.

Walking distance of this trail is approximately 8 km. This is the shortest yet most physically demanding trail starting from the south of the summit and it takes climbers an average of 3-4 hours to complete. This route firstly takes climbers though steep, dense rainforest. The rainforest gradually gets less dense and transitions into a desolate landscape of rocks and boulders. The final leg of the route is a steep slope which finally leads climbers to the top of the mountain.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Most popular trail

Starting from Besakih temple (West)

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Standard itinerary

Number of days
1
Summary

The climb from the Besakih temple is the most popular one at present, though it is quite challenging. It takes 6 to 7 hours for the climber to arrive at the summit, and the trek usually begins at 11pm so that you can reach the top in time for sunrise. One can also start at 4am and come down from the summit before the night sets in. The reason for this trail’s popularity is that the trail from Pura Pasar Agung Temple is dangerous, strewn with slippery rocks. Solidified lava, sharp rocks and fog add to the risk. The route from Duku Bujangga Sakti is also rarely used and adequate information on it is lacking.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Day 1
  • The most preferred climbing trail starts from Besakih temple which is situated to the west of the summit. The climb is demanding and will take 5 to 6 hours to complete.  
  • 10.00 PM: Check your equipment, eat, change into suitable clothing and leave your hotel/ room (assumedly on the south side of Bali).
  • 11.00 PM: Arrive at Besakih temple starting point, and begin the ascent.
  • Throughout: Take a break if necessary, drink water and eat high energy snacks.
  • 4.00 – 5.00 AM: Arrival at the summit. Savour the majestic landscape and sunrise. Rest your legs and take some photographs.
  • 6.00 – 7.00 AM: Begin the descent back to Besakih temple.
  • 12.00 PM: Arrive back at the starting point.
  • 1.00 PM: Go back to your hotel/ room, eat lunch, take a shower and get some hard earned rest.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Climbing Difficulty

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Terrain

Number of distinct sections
2
Summary

The terrain of Mount Agung can be split into 2 distinct sections: the terrain of lower altitudes is mainly tropical forest, whereas the higher altitudes and summit mostly consist of rocks and less vegetation.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Rainforest at low altitude of 1500m
From the beginning of the ascent climbers will go through dense and lush rainforests. The beginning of the descent is seen as somewhat of an obstacle-course with climbers constantly having to watch their step for winding tree routes and slippery stones. It will often be necessary for climbers to hold on to branches for support during steep sections. Wild pigs and monkeys are often spotted in the dense forests along with many species of birds.
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Volcanic rock at higher altitudes
When the rainforest thins out, climbers will witness the terrain transition into a desolate landscape of volcanic rocks and ashes. The climb to the summit is over sturdy volcanic rock surfaces and often includes slippery stretches. There are no safety barriers at this section to prevent any falls, so ample body strength or prior training becomes an advantage at this point.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Weather

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Overview of climate

Mount Agung influences the climate of the surrounding area. During the months of January and February, heavy rains, floods and landslides are common. At lower altitudes, the climate is tropical and generally the temperate is around 20-25°C. The weather becomes colder at higher altitudes, so packing a warm layer is advised.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Best time to climb

The best time to climb Mount Agung is during the dry months of May to October. Although the weather during the dry months is generally pleasant, do note that small showers can still be experienced from time to time due to the tropical climate. The weather in the morning is generally cooler and less humid than the rest of the day.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Common weather challenges
  • Rain: Due to the tropical climate of Mount Agung, random showers (even during the dry months) are common. For climbers, the biggest task they will come across on the trek will be slippery paths. Bring hiking boots with a good treat, and consider poles.
  • Wind: Wind-speeds and gusts become strong at higher altitudes. Consider a wind-breakers and a warm layer.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Safety tips

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Climbing safety
  • Altitude: Climbers should ascend and descend at a steady pace instead of hurrying their way through the route to prevent altitude sickness, which can occur even in fit people. Headache, fatigue and nausea are common symptoms.
  • Falling hazards: Climbers are always recommended to wear suitable hiking boots to tackle the terrain and especially during rainfall when the trails becomes very slippery and wet. It is highly advised for climbers to take rest till the rain stops. It is also appropriate to have a climbing partner or group to ensure help is at hand.
  • Cuts and scrapes: A first-aid kit containing antiseptic wipes, muscle pain relief cream and band-aids can also come in handy in case of falls, scrapes and acute pain.
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Personal safety
  • Be cautious when finding guides. Ideally, they should have plenty of local climbing experience and knowledge, and first aid training.
  • Do not leave your personal belongings such as cameras, phones passports unattended.
  • Climbing in groups (especially at night) is sensible and recommended.
  • Camping and climbing of Mount Agung is not allowed during some religious ceremonies, so best ask your tour provider.
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Safety for women travelers

Women travellers should feel relatively safe in Bali. However, to feel more safe, consider travelling and hiking in groups, and taking your dress cues from the locals (even when swimming).

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Recommended equipment

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Footwear
  • Steady hiking boots
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Clothing
  • Waterproof windbreaker
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Lightweight thermals for inner lining at high altitudes
  • Scarf and gloves (for protection against cold at high altitudes)
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Bags
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Waterproof camera bag (optional)
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Weather protection
  • Waterproof raincoat / anorak
  • Waterproof backpack
  • A hat/ cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (if necessary)
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Climbing support
  • Hiking poles (optional)
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Navigation tools
  • Headlamps
  • Flashlight
  • Compass
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Medical equipment
  • First-aid kit
  • Altitude sickness or headache medicine
  • Insect repellent and bite cream
  • Muscle-ache relief cream (tiger balm)
  • Antiseptic cream or wipes
  • Band-Aids
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Food
  • Water
  • Energy drinks (optional)
  • Lunch (optional)
  • Dry food items (chocolate bars, energy bars, etc.)
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Hygene sanitation
  • Hand sanitiser or antiseptic wipes
  • Tissues or wet wipes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Plastic bags for garbage (please do not litter on the mountain)
  • Towel / sweatband
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Connectivity
  • Mobile phone
  • Portable charger
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Documents
  • Passport or other form of ID (driver’s license) for emergency situations

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Support facilities

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Resting stops and facilities

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Rest stops

There are several unmarked rest stops on the mountain.  All rest stops offer sheltered areas while some offer seating. The rest stops are suitable places to catch your breath and rest your legs along the way, wait out spells of rain and eat lunch or have snacks.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Base camp

There are many villages all over Mount Agung, and hotels and homestays could be considered as base camps. For example, the Bukit Artha Homestay is an option in Sidemen. Alternatively, camping is permitted, but do remember that Mount Agung can be very wet.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Guides and porters

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Do you need a guide?

Hiring a guide is optional, but recommended to ensure a safe and pleasant trip, especially for those with little or no climbing experience.  Each mountain guide can take a group of up to 5 climbers on a trip. It is sensible to book a guide several days before the climb.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - How to find a guide?

There are numerous tour operators advertising their guided services and specialisations online. Local tour operators and agents are plentiful in the urban areas in Southern Bali.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Tips while working with guides
  • Read reviews about the guide or speak with climbers who have used them previously if possible.
  • Keep in mind that sharing a guide or climbing in larger groups will reduce the cost.
  • You can ask to see the guide’s ID proof before beginning the trek if you have doubts about them.
  • Give them feedback after the climb or write a review.  

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Porters

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Do you need a porter?

Porters are not required for most climbers since Mt. Agung is mostly climbed in a day or less. It is not necessary for you to take large luggage or heavy equipment on the trip.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - How to find a porter?

If needed, porters can be arranged via tour operators or guides.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Tips while working with porters

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Food & water

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - At the start of the hike

A few restaurants offering hot and cold meals and shops selling snacks, refreshments and bottled drinking water can be found situated around Besakih temple (starting point).

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - During the hike, along the trail

Climbers can carry water bottles and refill them at the natural drinking water sources which are available at rest stops.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - During the hike, at base camp

The base camp located at 1700m has a small restaurant which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner to climbers. Most, if not all, Balinese villages have at least a small convenience store where basic food items can be bought.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Network connectivity

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Phone and data (3G) connectivity

There are several networks offering phone and data (3G) connectivity along the trails, including at the higher altitudes of the mountain. However, the signal can be weak in certain areas and may completely drop in some areas during the trek.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Accessibility

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Getting there

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Nearest airport
Ngurah Rai International Airport
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - From the airport to the starting point

Taxis or shared minibuses will take you just about anywhere on the island.

The distance covered from Bali Airport to the starting point of Mount Agung is around 23 km. The journey can take between 1 and 3 hours to get to the southern reaches of Mount Agung, depending on the traffic (particularly getting through Denpasar). Getting to the Northern side of the mountain could take between 1 and 2 hours longer.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Climbing permits

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Is a permit needed?
It is required to obtain a climbing permit beforehand. When hiring a guide, climbing permits are mostly included within the price.
Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - How to get a permit?

Tour operators and guides will assist you in obtaining necessary permits at the time of booking.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - Special Tips

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - For amateur climbers

Although all of the trails offer a unique experience of Mt. Agung, taking the longest and less wandered trail starting from Duku Bujangga Sakti (North of the summit) will take you through a range of unforgettable landscapes. Be sure to catch the majestic sunrise and don’t forget to bring your camera. For a more authentic experience, hiring an experienced and recommended guide is a sensible move.

Climbing Mount Agung Indonesia - For advanced climbers

Taking the vigorous and challenging route, starting from Pura Pusar Agung temple (South of the summit) is recommended in fine weather. You will come across slippery stones, steep angles, rocks, solidified lava, and dried up stream beds on the way. With a guide, it will take around 3 hours to reach the summit and you can catch the sunrise from the crater rim if you start at 2.30am.    

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