My first post-pandemic overseas adventure and I wanted to do something off the bucket list. I had seen amazing pictures on Instagram of the Mt Batur Volcano Sunrise Trek in Bali and decided that I wanted those images on my feed. But sometimes reality really does not replicate what you see on the Gram!
When the alarm went off at 2:45am in our Ubud villa the rain was coming down hard. We ran through what felt like splash buckets at a water park dumping on our heads to get to our driver who collected us at 3am for our magical insta worthy adventure.
Bali Hai tours website refers to the trek as a way to enjoy "Glorious sunrises and stunning morning views" - we were in!
A one hour drive through heavy rain and then thick fog was a miraculous feat by our driver - I closed my eyes and just hoped we would get there alive! At least there was very little traffic on the road which is an insta worthy moment in Bali of itself.
By 4am we had met our trek guide, donned a plastic poncho and a head torch, and the adventure began. The rain had reduced to a drizzle and we held hope for our sunrise as we took off in a single file along with hundreds of other hopeful sunrise seekers.
For two hours we ascended in the dark, one step at a time in a single file with anticipation for the summit. The climb is not for the faint hearted - it was definitely a steady challenge with uneven surfaces and a rudimentary track. At no point did I think I was not going to make it - but it certainly put a burn in the legs.
We passed a 20 something who perhaps had been out on the local cocktails the night before who had ended up in a bush just off the track - not sure her or her group made it. A boozy night before this trek is not something I would recommend.
When we arrived at the top our guide seated us on a bench, prepared us a small breakfast and left us to enjoy the sunrise. It was cold and the fog so thick we could barely see in front of our faces. The insta worthy sunrise was an epic picture of thick fog and me in a plastic poncho!
Our poor guide barely had time to catch up with her fellow guides for breakfast - we knew the fog was not going to clear, it was cold and we were ready to descend. We never imagined a trip to Bali we would regret not packing our thermals!
The track on the descent, in the daylight, was a surprise. I think if we ascended in day light and could see the track we were on we may have thought twice! It was rocky and uneven, no tourist dollars have been spent here on any fancy walkways.
We had a glimmer of a sunrise on the way down, our guide desperately trying to get us an image but by the time we got the phones out it was gone.
We met with our Bali Hai Tour driver at the base and he delivered our weary bodies, along with our non gram worthy photos to the local hot springs where we soaked and debriefed our morning adventure.
So it's not always like it is on the gram! But no regrets - we still have a great story to tell and memories to relive. And who knows - maybe we will try again.
Itchy Feet Family
*Itchy Feet Family were hosted on this tour by Bali Hai Adventure Tours. Find details of how to book this tour, and other Bali Adventures, at their website www.balihaitour.com
Our first post pandemic international travel was to Bali in September 2022. We enjoyed our direct flight to sunshine so much, we have been three times in the last 12 months!
One of the most common questions I have been asked is about the arrival process at Denpasar airport. Here is a quick guide on what to expect when you arrive and how you can prepare for a smooth arrival.
Updated August 2023.
There are a number of steps to the arrival process but if prepared it runs quite smoothly - here they are.
Pre-Departure in Australia
When we checked in for our flight in Adelaide we were required to show
1. Passport only - no requirement for and International COVID certificate
Arrival into Denpasar - Station 1
The first queue is where you will pay for you tourist visa. They will take many forms of payment including Australian Dollars, Indonesian Rupiah, Pounds, US dollar - whatever currency you have. There is a conversion table for each country and it gives you the rate of the day. On the day we went through it was $53 Australian Dollars per person.
If paying by cash - they will only take notes (ie for $53 I had to give them $55 and I received change in Rupiah) You can also pay be credit card so they are happy for you to just tap and pay!
The second station requires you to show 1. Passport 2. Your Boarding Pass (so don't lose that on your flight or leave it in the seat back!3, your receipt from paying for your Entry Visa and 4. You will have your fingerprint taken.
We have found this is always the longest line. In August it took us about an hour at this point. There is a line to the right that is for seniors (over 65) and families.
After collecting your bags you will need to show a QR code from your customs declaration for arrival.
Many people were standing around filling out the online arrival declaration (there is free wifi in the airport so it is possible to do this) or filling out the paper forms - however if you have pre-done it the process is much smoother.
The customs declaration can be completed up to three days before travel and you can complete it online. Click here for the website - you will need your passport number, flight number and know how many bags you are checking and carrying with you.
Once you have done all three stations (queue) you will have access to exit to enjoy your Bali holiday!
A Few Helpful Tips
I always pre-book airport transfers - it is so much easier and cheaper. Your hotel may include a transfer - great! Or you may want use someone like Viator who have cheap and secure options. Click Here for More.
Be sure to sign up for CashRewards before you do your travel bookings if you like to make bookings yourself online. This a great way to save and get cash back on your travel expenses.
I always use cash in Bali - take Australian dollars and simply exchange as you go. There are plenty of money change locations throughout the island and it saves getting caught with a lot of currency left at the end of your trip.
Itchy Feet Family