Mount Agung


Mount Agung or Gunung Agung is a volcano in Bali in Indonesia, located south east of Mt Batur volcano, also in Bali. Gunung Agung stratovolcano is the highest point on Bali. It dominates the surrounding area, influencing the climate, especially rainfall patterns.

Bali’s highest and most revered mountain, Gunung Agung is an imposing peak from most of south and east Bali, although it’s often obscured by cloud and mist. From the peak of the mountain, it is possible to see the peak of Mt Rinjani on the nearby island of Lombok, to the east, although both mountains are frequently covered in clouds. Gunung Agung last erupted in 1963–1964. It is still active with a large and very deep crater which occasionally belches smoke and ash. From a distance, the mountain appears to be perfectly conical. Many sources say it's 3142m, but some say it lost its top in the 1963 eruption and with subsequent erosion and is now only 3014m. The summit is an oval crater, about 700m across, with its highest point on the western edge above Besakih Temple.


As it's the spiritual centre of Bali, traditional houses are laid out on an axis in line with Agung and many locals always know where they are in relation to the peak, which is thought to house ancestral spirits. Climbing the mountain takes you through verdant forest in the clouds and rewards with sweeping (dawn) views. More than 3000 tourists make the ascent each year.


Balinese believe that Mt Agung is a replica of Mt Meru, the central axis of the universe. One legend holds it that the mountain is a fragment of Meru brought to Bali by the first Hindus. The most important temple on Bali, Pura Besakih, is located high on the slopes of Gunung Agung.


Climbing Agung

It’s possible to climb Agung from various directions. The two shortest and most popular routes are from Pura Besakih, on the southwest side of the mountain, or from Pura Pasar Agung, on the southern slopes. The latter route goes to the lower edge of the crater rim (2900m), but you can’t make your way from there around to the very highest point. You’ll have great views south and east, but you won’t be able to see central Bali. If you want to say you’ve been to the very top, climb from Besakih.

To have the best chance of seeing the view before the clouds form, get to the top before 8am, or preferably before sunrise at about 6am. You’ll have to start at night, so plan your climb when there will be some moonlight (for religious reasons, many local guides don’t want to do it on the night of the full moon, but a day before or after is OK). Take a strong torch (flashlight), extra batteries, plenty of water (2L per person), snack food, waterproof clothing and a warm jumper. The descent is especially hard on the feet, so you’ll appreciate strong shoes or boots (and cut your toenails before you start).


You should take a guide for either route. Before you start, or early in the climb, the guide will stop at a shrine to make an offering and say some prayers. This is a holy mountain and you should show respect. Besides, you will want to have everything going for you.


It’s best to climb during the dry season (April to September); July to September are the most reliable months. At other times, the paths can be slippery and dangerous, and you probably won’t see anything of the View. Climbing Gunung Agung is not allowed when major religious events are being held at Pura Besakih, which generally includes most of April. No guide will take you up at these times, from either Besakih or Pura Pasar Agung, and there are horror stories about those who defied the ban and came to a sticky end on Gunung Agung.


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