Bali – Mt. Agung spared a solo woman traveller’s life
Travelling solo to a new destination can get a little scary and intimidating, especially when you realise that you are visiting an island that has a mountain that could erupt at any moment. Yes, when I visited Bali on my first ever solo trip in 2017, there were a lot of speculations about the famous Mount Agung erupting! To be honest, I am an introvert, and I was very scared to go on a trip all by myself. And these speculations only added to that fear.
I had booked my tickets to Bali well in advance, and ten days before my flight, the news of the eruption began to do rounds on the internet. My friends and well-wishers suggested I cancel this solo trip and plan some other time. Because of this, I even spent a few days overthinking the whole situation, whether or not I should cancel my plans. But the courage I had gathered to plan this trip to Bali was not something that had come easy for me. So I decided to go ahead with my plans.
Crazy thoughts that I had before going ahead with my travel plans…
I had a number of thoughts that ran through my head while I was on the flight – “what if Mount Agung erupts and I end up being on streets with no food and place to stay?” or “ what if I am run over by hot lava?” or even worse “what if the lava shoots out of Mount Agung while I am still in my flight?” lol.
I know these are very crazy thoughts, but when something on such a large scale is about to happen, you cannot help but think about all the things that could happen to you. However, I trusted my gut feeling about completing the solo trip to Bali (and honestly, it was a beautiful experience). To keep my mind off of these thoughts, I also worked on my travel blogs. Writing has always helped me, and my travel blogs turned out to be a saviour in such situations!
Contemplating my decision of not cancelling my plans…
The day of my solo trip to Bali arrived in no time. Even though I had decided to go ahead with my plans, somewhere at the back of my head, I was still a little unsure. The solo trip was six days and five nights. Everything was set, bags packed, but I was still a little hesitant.
On my way to the Chennai International Airport from my home, the weird thoughts kept popping up, making me feel uneasy and unsure. But I had no choice but to continue my journey.
At the airport, I boarded my flight which landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, for the connecting flight to Bali. The layoff time lasted for about four hours, which was honestly not very easy on me. But my parents and friends kept calling to check on me to make sure I was okay. This kind of helped me keep my mind off of the crazy thoughts. But in a few hours, it was time for me to board my connecting flight to Bali.
When I landed in Bali, I had a weird sense of relief. I guess it was because of the fact that I had checked off the first thing of my itinerary (landing in Bali). I realised I had no time to worry about what might happen if Mount Agung erupted.
Considering Bali was my first ever solo trip, I had to make the most of it, and worrying was not going to help me in any way. This was when I decided to stop thinking about what might happen and just live in the moment and enjoy the first stop of my dream of solo travelling – Bali!
My Mount Agung Trek
Home to the mother temple of Besakih, Mount Agung holds a lot of spiritual importance to the people of Bali. And also, legend says that Mount Agung was created from a fragment of Mount Meru by the Hindu God Pasupati.
Part of why I was so scared was my Mount Agung Trek. Since I had decided to continue my trip and not worry too much about whether or not there were going to be eruptions, I shoved the crazy thoughts out of my mind and got ready for the trek.
Selecting an experienced trekking guide
Now, this is the most important thing that you need to consider when it comes to trekking to Mount Agung or any mountain for that matter. You want to stay away from a guide who is lazy and is best described as someone who keeps saying, “I cannot wait to finish this trek,” “the trek is taking too long than I thought,” or worst, “let’s take a break” after every 20 minutes or so. The thing that I realised about taking too many breaks on a trek is that it can make you lazy. There is no harm in making sure you take adequate breaks while trekking to let your body get on the same page as your mind, but three breaks in an hour can only hinder your trek.
I have a few tips for you to keep in mind before you go about selecting a trekking guide.
- Always book a trekking guide from a reputable agency. This will ensure that you get a guide who is experienced and motivated enough and takes his/her work seriously.
- Beware of small street agencies that make their trekking guides look professional. In most cases, the agencies will tell you that the guides they have are their own. But in reality, most of them will be guides hired through third-party agencies.
- While selecting a trekking guide, I would say the word of mouth technique works the best. You can check out travel forums online to source information about the guides.
- A very important point, you can figure out whether an agency is genuine or not if it keeps you updated on weather conditions before the trek. A good agency will always care about its customers and ensure they have a great experience.
The Sunrise Trek
My trek started from Pasar Agung Temple, which is 1,700 metres above sea level. Since Mount Agung is 3,000 metres above sea level, reaching the summit from the starting point (the Pasar Agung Temple) took us about four to five hours.
Here is something I want to share with you all that I realised on this trek. Although there is no shame in not having a fit body, trekking to Mount Agung can be quite demanding. I am not fit either, but I do a bit of exercise every day at home, and I was able to complete the trek without getting too tired. There were a lot of other travellers too who were running out of breath every now and then.
If you feel confident about completing the trek, you can go ahead with it. But if you want to have a leisure climb, then Mount Agung is not for you. However, you can try out the trek available to Mount Batur. The sunrise and views of the island from Mount Batur are quite gorgeous, too, so you would not really be missing out on much!
Hiking up Mount Agung
The path to the summit was quite dark. After trekking for a while, the path even got narrower. I had a headlamp that helped me keep my hands free. I would suggest you do the same too. The night was very silent and looked even more beautiful. I was surprised at how quiet the jungle was (although scary, it was totally worth trekking in the dark).
After a few hours of continuously trekking, we came across a few people who lived up in the villages near the path we had chosen for the trek. Some people were kind enough to speak to us and even gave us motivational cheers. I found these tiny gestures very comforting.
We reached the summit at around 6 in the morning, and the view was breathtaking. Fortunately, we had a very experienced and friendly trekking guide who made sure we all had a great time. The best part about reaching the top was the cold wind blowing into my face. It all felt very surreal. Combined with the stunning view, the fresh cold wind acted as the cherry on top!
The trek to Mount Agung is far more difficult than Mount Batur, which is why it is less touristy also. At the summit of Mount Agung, there were hardly any shops around. Good thing I packed some refreshments and lots of water with me. Again, our trekking guide being the professional he was, made sure we all packed snacks and food with us before beginning the trek.
Descending down Mount Agung
After spending almost an hour on top, it was time for all of us to bid goodbye to Mount Agung and descend down. Since the descent was in daylight, I was thinking about how we all managed to hike up the mountain. Because honestly, if I had seen the steep steps while hiking up, I don’t think I would have made it! I would consider trekking in the dark and not being able to see the path clearly was surely a blessing in disguise.
Even though while descending down, you are less breathless as compared to hiking up, I would still consider the descent to be more challenging. This is major because the path feels more slippery while descending down. Luckily, I had worn good trekking shoes with a good grip. But it still did not help much.
The whole descent from the summit took us about eight hours. After which, we were all so tired that we all thanked the trekking guide for such a lovely experience and went our ways.
As soon as I reached my hotel, I took a quick shower to clean myself. During the shower, the crazy thoughts about the volcano eruption popped into my head again. And I was surprised by the fact that I did not think about the eruption even once on my trek! This made me glad that I decided to shove my fears aside and go ahead with my travel plans. After the shower, I ordered food to my hotel room and went to bed with a big smile on my face!
Tips for trekking to Mount Agung
Now, I have some tips for you all if you want to go ahead with the Mount Agung Trek. Remember, it will not be easy, and there will be many times where you will wish you hadn’t opted for this trek. But trust me, the view is going to be worth it!
- A walking stick can be a life saviour when you trek in the dark. It will come in handy when you start to feel breathless and want to take a moment or two to relax.
- Carry a pair of light gloves with you on the trek. These will be helpful when you descend down as you can balance yourself by holding onto a branch or something.
- Try to wear sweat-absorbent clothes for the trek. Chances are you will be sweating a lot when you do the hike. And when you reach the summit and sit down, the sweaty tops and shirts will make it difficult for you to feel warm.
- Carry sunscreen with you. You will be descending down in daylight, and the sun can be pretty harsh on your skin.
- Do not forget to pack plenty of snacks and water bottles with you. Like I mentioned earlier, Mount Agung is not very touristy, which is why it lacks shops on the top.
Bali – my perfect first-ever solo trip
I am so glad I went ahead with my solo trip, even after all the speculations doing the rounds on the internet. Although I was pretty scared to make that decision, it surely turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made so far.
I regret overthinking so much and wasting my time, and having all those sleepless nights before taking the trip. But like they say, “all’s well that ends well!” and this ended very well too.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.