December 23, 2015 Comments (0) Adventure Guides

Climbing Gunung Agung – An Adventure Guide

Climb, Agung, Volcano, Clouds
Gunung Agung

At a height of 3,142m above sea level, Gunung Agung is the highest volcano on the island and the 14th highest in Indonesia. The mountain last erupted in 1963 and 1964 and is still considered active with a large and deep crater. This mountain is the hardest on the island and is a true adventure, especially if you decide to go without a guide.

Volcano, Bali, Agung, Summit, Climb

Climbers and guides stand on the summit of Agung just after sunrise – Photo by Ryan Mazure

Guides are available for all routes but with the recent rescue of 2 foreign hikers from the north side the government has essentially made it mandatory for everyone to take a guide. There are ways around this which you can find in the adventure stories section but it is also giving the local people a job by hiring a guide. I understand this isn’t for everybody so take the information below and decide for yourself.

 Besakih route

Agung, Summit, Shadow

Summit shadow  – Photo by Scott Plume 

Besakih is the mother temple on the island and is of great significance to the Balinese people. When there are religious ceremonies on it is forbidden to climb the mountain however many guides will still take you to the top when the ceremonies are happening. This route is one of the longest to the top but also the most popular. With deep volcanic sand and the route being 2 hours longer than from Pura Pasar Agung it’s not ideal for beginners or the unfit. If you are fit and continue up without many stops, it is reasonable to complete a one way ascent in 5 hours or less. If you are unfit then much longer will be required for you to reach the summit. Many people say that the descent is worse than going up due to the deep sand and slippery, sandy path however, if you are sure footed you can just about run down the mountain and be back in under 3 hours. It all depends on your physical fitness and your ability to descend quickly.

Besakih route

Descending the route back to Besakih – Photo by Scott Plume

There are actually 2 routes from Besakih but the best one is on the right side of the temple up near the dam just north of Pura Kiduling Kreteg. From here you go past the dam on the left side and the path continues along before you need to take a right hand turn and head up the mountain. The other path goes from the carpark at the bottom of Besakih temple around to the left and then up the mountain. You just head directly straight up here and you will see the other path going off to the right towards the dam. From here it is impossible to get lost. The path is big and once above the tree line you’ll find sharp volcanic rock with a small path meandering its way upwards. From the Besakih temple many people only make it to the west summit and don’t actually go to the true summit. Once you reach the west summit continue along the ridge line all the way to the furthest point that you can see. There is a huge Indonesian flag flying proudly on the summit and you will have the most amazing view over to Rinjani some 80km’s away.

Summit ridge, Agung

Summit ridge line.

If you continue straight you end up in Besakih but if you look closely you can see the path going down to the left around 50m infront of the climber and thats the way to Pura Pasar Agung – Photo by Ryan Mazure  

Pura Pasar Agung Route

The route from Pura Pasar Agung is by far the easiest route to the summit and a fast person can do it in under 3 hours, with the average time being around 4 hours. This route has plenty of rocks and the ground is hard unlike the super sandy Besakih route. The huge pilgrimage route heads straight up the mountain and if you continue straight you’ll end up at the crater rim. There is a left turn you take and head down a small ravine before crossing around the volcano and joining with the Besakih route on the summit ridge just 100m from the true summit.

Agung, Clouds

Coming out of the clouds and above the tress is an amazing feeling. Often its raining on the lower slopes however after an hour or so you pop above the clouds.

Photo by Ryan Mazure

The route starts at the carpark and head up the stairs to the temple. From here go left around the temple and follow the path up. After around 2 hours there is a huge arrow painted on the ground pointing to where to take the left hand turn and from here it’s around an hour and a half to the summit. There are a lot of markings on rocks and there is a possibility to get lost, however you are above the trees here so visibility is ok. You follow the route to the left side, up and around the mountain before it heads steeply up to the summit ridge. If the cloud comes in and you are lost then you are totally screwed so if you go alone be prepared and take a GPS or if you are in trouble take the Besakih route down as there is no chance to become lost on this route. It is a good idea to take a guide who can help you along the way and also provide a valuable income to the families of these people.

Kadek Budi taking the Pura Pasar Agung route back to the carpark – Photo by Ryan Mazure

Kubu Route

The Kubu route is the most un-used route on the mountain but also one of the best because of the lack of trees and also the great views the entire way along the route. You head inland here from the small village of Kubu and at the end of the road you need to go around the temple on a small path and just follow it upwards. You can take a motorbike 4kms from the temple however the path is quite difficult and probably better to just walk from this point.

Gunung Agung

Gunung Agung as seen from Kubu – Photo by Ryan Mazure

This route is very long as it starts from a very low elevation and a lot of people camp overnight on the slopes of the volcano and head up the next day for sunrise. It is possible to do it in one go however it is very long and it’s a good idea to take one of the other ways as the descent route. If you decide to take this route then some planning is in order related to logistics because if you decide to go down another route then you have to arrange transportation to the north of the island. Guides are best arranged before you get to Kubu because no one can speak english there.

For more detailed information about climbing checkout Gunung Bagging which has every piece of information you need to climb the volcanoes of Indonesia.


Ryan Mazure is an adventure seeker, photographer and creator of the Bali Adventure Guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *