Batur… the lake or the volcano?!

posted in: Bali, Indonesia | 0

Leaving behind the beach and the seashore that are letting my skin with a strong tan, it time to move to the Bali countryside and visit the area of Batur, famous for the volcano (Gurung Batur) and the lake below (Danau Batur).

This is a very touristic attraction, with people coming for climbing the Mount Batur to see the sunrise and others just come here as a day trip to enjoy the views. So what to do?! Lake or mountain?!?!

The answer came naturally… neither of them!!! By change I arrive at Batur on a special Hindu day: the end of the Galungan festival…. and also by chance (or maybe not!) one of the second most important temples in Bali, the Pura Ulun Danu Batur (also known as Pura Batur) is located nearby.

But despite the festival that brought a meaning to visit this place, the mount Batur didn’t impressed, as the top was most of the time cloudy, except early morning, and the lake was most of the time wrapped by a layer of mist that painted the landscape with sad colors. This gloomy feeling spread to the lethargic Kedisan and to the characterless Penelokan, and was able to change also my mood!

Lake Batur and the Volcano
Lake Batur and the Volcano
Lake Batur and the Volcano wrapped in clouds view from Kedisan village
Lake Batur and the Volcano wrapped in clouds view from Kedisan village
Kedisan, nearby the Batur lake
Kedisan, nearby the Batur lake
Gurung Batur early Morning. Bali
Gurung Batur early Morning. Bali

But Kedisan, look like woke up from the sleepy mood to celebrate the last day of the Galungan festival, and the temple nearby was the center of all the activity.

Women caring heavy offerings made form fruits at their head walking in the quiet streets of Kedisan… while the men in groups, play music, grill satay (meat sticks) and drink rice wine, away from the religiosity of the day. But later everybody goes to the temples as the religion has a big importance on the Balinese daylife.

Women caring heavy offerings made form fruits at their head walking in the quiet streets of Kedisan
Women caring heavy offerings made form fruits at their head walking in the quiet streets of Kedisan
Offering at a temple nearby Kedisan
Offering at a temple nearby Kedisan
gongs form the "gamelan" orquestra that plays during the Hindu celebrations
gongs form the “gamelan” orquestra that plays during the Hindu celebrations
Temple nearby Kedisan during the Kuningan celebration
Temple nearby Kedisan during the Kuningan celebration
the Balinese Hindu temples have always complex and elaborate decorations, full of significance according to the religious traditions
the Balinese Hindu temples have always complex and elaborate decorations, full of significance according to the religious traditions
Hindu temple in Kesidan. Batur. Bali
Hindu temple in Kesidan. Batur. Bali

Where to sleep at Batur area:

There are basically 4 different areas around Gurung Batur:

  • Penelokan: this is the best viewpoint of the lake and to Gurung Batur, but isn’t much more than an intersection on the road, with a parking area, a market with souvenirs… a place without character.
  • Kintamani: this village spreads along the road and is nearby some significant temples, as Pura Ulun Danu Batur, with a lot of eateries and a local vibe but didn’t spot much accommodations… and is about 5 km from Penelokan and 10 km from the lake Danu Batur, that makes this place away from the nice views of Batur.
  • Kedisan: located on the west side of the lake, at water level, offer a nice view to the volcano and the mountains surrounding the lake, is very quiet and has a local vibe with a few warungs, but not much more is going on here.
  • Toya Bungkah: located nearby the north shore of the lake is the base point to start the hiking to Gurung Batur.

As the prices are higher that usual in Bali, as Batur is one important tourist destination on the island, the areas that offer cheap option are Toya Bungkah and Kedisan. As I was here more for the views than for the hike, I choose the last option and stay in one of the three options around Kedisan, Putra Mulya Hotel, that is more a homestay.

A super nice lady runs Putra Mulya Hotel, but the rooms accuse many years without maintenance, decadent and dirty, with a strong mold smell. Room for 100.000 Rp that include a horrible breakfast… not even the coffee was good.

Putra Mulya Hotel em Kedisan, Batur
Putra Mulya Hotel em Kedisan, Batur
Look much better in the photo than it rally is... Putra Mulya Hotel em Kedisan, Batur.
Look much better in the photo than it rally is… Putra Mulya Hotel em Kedisan, Batur.

Where to eat in Batur area:

Along the road that cross Kedisai you can find a few sleeping warungs, any of them looking attractive.

At Penelokan I didn’t spot any restaurant or eatery, just a stall of bakso (meatballs soup) but is a good place to buy fruits.

Kintamani has many eateries along the road, nearby the Nusa Ulun Danu Batur; basic and humble places, serving goregan (deep fry tofu, banana, corn, etc…), bakso and the usual rice dishes, mainly orientated to local visitors. A nasi campur (pronounce champur) cost 20.000 Rp.

many warungs nearby Pura Batur
many warungs nearby Pura Batur

How to go from Amed to Batur area:

  • By Shuttle bus:

Everywhere in Amed, you can find agencies offering this service for 200.000 Rp (minimum 2 people). If you are traveling along you can try to arrange a car for a cheaper price at your homestay.

Definitively this is the faster and the more comfortable way to travel…. but I was alone!

  • By public transport:

There is a route along the north coast, from Amed to Tedjakula, where you can find an ojek to Kintamani. But this road crosses dry areas and don’t offer nice views of the volcano.

So the other option is to go first to Almapura, and then to Besakih, and from here to Kintamani; this entire trip is possible to be made by bemo and bus. This was my choice as the road pass by rice fields and a more pleasant landscape, as people in Amed told me it. But… but there are always something unpredictable, and by chance I travel on the Kuningan day, an important Balinese religious celebration, that means that most of the public transport wasn’t working, what make this trip to Batur a very difficult task, forcing me to find another route.

  • Bemo from Culik to Amlapura: 20.000 Rp… just wait on the road for a red old mini-van… it will take around 30 minutes to Amlapura. On the way, you can see the beautiful rice fields landscape of Tirtaganga.
  • bus Amlapura to Gianyar: 30.000 Rp… this bus is not much different from a bemo, just a bit bigger, and also drives very slow. It was difficult to communicate with the driver but he dropped me in a junction near Gianyar, from where there’s a direct road to Batur, passing by Bangli. It took around 1.5 hours.
  • Ojek from Gianyar to Batur (Kedisan): 50.000 Rp… after one hour waiting for a bemo didn´t have other option than getting a moto-taxi. It’s a pretty nice trip along rural areas, and the last part is particularly winding and steep.

How to go from Batur to Singaraja:

  • From Kedisan to Penelokan: bemo 10.000 Rp or just try to hitchhike and give the same amount of money to the driver if he want.
  • At Penelokan junction, nearby the market building, wait for the bus to Singaraja: it arrived before 9 am, but is better to arrive earlier to the bus stand as this service is not frequent and probably just during the mornings. It’s a nice journey trough the hills that took 1:40h to reach the Kerobokan terminal and cost 50.000 Rp. From here you need to take a bemo to Singaraja or any other destination… don’t deal with the guys inside the terminal, as there are many bemos waiting outside on the main road
  • A private car can be arranged by 300.000 Rp to Singaraja… good if you travel in a group!

How to visit Pura Ulun Danu Batur:

At Penelokan you can get a bemo… the price until the temple is 20.000 Rp, too much for just 5 kilometers, but think that the drivers were taking advantage of the festival, as the local people were paying the same.

Ticket to visit the Pura Ulun Danu Batur is 35.000 Rp… and you get a bottle of water for free!

Both men and women must wear a sarong.

Nearby there are many food stalls and eateries.

 

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