Mount Agung Hike In Bali: Trekking Gunung Agung Volcano + Tours

The Mount Agung Bali volcano is the biggest and baddest mountain peak on the island of Bali, Indonesia, and the hike to the top is out of this world.

This brutal trek takes you up the steep slopes of an active volcano until you’re staring into the massive crater itself. I did the Mount Agung hike in 2020, and it was one of the most difficult and thrilling things I’ve ever experienced.

Sunrise trekking at the Gunung Agung volcano is especially popular because you can catch amazing views of the sunrise from the top of the mountain, usually in a sea of orange clouds.

This guide will explain how you can hike Mount Agung, with or without a guide, and everything else you need to know before you go!

Quick Facts
  • Distance: 4 miles (8 km) return
  • Elevation Gain: ~5,000 feet (1,500 m)
  • Top Elevation: 10,308 feet (3,142 m)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Duration: 8-12 hrs return
Where Is Mount Agung?

The Mount Agung volcano is located in Karangasem regency, in the northeast corner of Bali island.

It’s about 2 hours’ drive from Kuta, Canggu, and Sanur, or about 1.5 hours’ drive from Ubud.
 

Mountain view from Sidemen, Bali
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Mount Agung volcano as seen from Sidemen village

About The Gunung Agung Volcano

Mount Agung (also known as Gunung Agung in Indonesian) is the highest point in Bali, and at 3,142 meters it’s one of the top 100 prominent peaks on earth. My wife informs me that the name means ‘The Great Mountain’.

Gunung Agung was long considered the ‘navel of the world’ by Balinese, and it’s still sacred in their beliefs. If you do this hike with a local guide, he’ll make a few stops along the way to burn Hindu incense and pray.

Balinese respect mountains as the dwelling place of the gods, and in old times you couldn’t climb Agung without a Hindu priest present.

Sunset by Mount Agung in Amed, Bali
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Gunung Agung sunset as seen from Amed village
Mount Agung Eruption History

Mount Agung is an active volcano that’s had some major eruptions throughout history. In 1963, a catastrophic eruption wiped out the nearby villages and killed 2,000 people.

The last Mount Agung eruption was in 2017-2019, when it exploded with a giant 4 km tall ash cloud that caused mayhem in Bali. More than 100,000 locals in Karangasem were evacuated, and hundreds of tourist flights were canceled or diverted.

Any signs of impending volcanic activity at Agung are constantly monitored by the Indonesian government, and if there are tremors sometimes the mountain is closed to hikers. As of 2020, Mount Agung is at Level 2 status (‘stay alert’).

Mount Agung eruption in Bali in 2017
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Mount Agung eruption in 2017 (© Shutterstock)
Mount Agung eruption and sunset in Bali in 2017
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Mount Agung eruption in 2017 (© Shutterstock)
Mount Agung Sunrise Trekking
What To Expect

Mount Agung sunrise tours start with a very early pickup (maybe 11 PM-ish) so your guide can drive you to the trailhead for a hike to the top of the volcano in time for sunrise.

This means you’ll be operating on very light sleep (if any at all), compounding the difficulty of the whole trek. Ever tried staying up all night while hiking for 8-12 hours on an extremely steep, rocky volcano in the dark? Chances are, probably not.

The Mount Batur sunrise hike is a good warmup for this one because the mechanics and terrain are similar, although Batur is much shorter and easier than Agung.

The Mount Agung trek can be broken down into 3 phases:

  • Part 1 — A dirt path winds through fern trees, pines, and vegetation. There are no real switchbacks, so the entire trail is uphill and strenuous, but this is the easiest phase of the hike.
  • Part 2 — Exit the treeline and weave your way through boulders, scree, dirt, and dust as the trail gradually gets steeper. This is the longest leg of the trek. It feels like it lasts forever.
  • Part 3 — Scrambling up the rest of the mountain on all fours. This is the hardest part of the Mount Agung hike, and some spots are steep enough to be very dangerous if you’re not careful. A good headlight and guide are essential here.

My wife, bless her heart, gave up shortly after we exited the treeline. She was too exhausted to keep going, the path was getting more sketchy, and the wind that day (late August) was terrible. We agreed to keep the guide with her for safety, and I pressed on to the summit alone.

The fact that my headlight was weak and I was running late for sunrise added some more urgency. I’ll never forget that moment: I was clinging to the side of a steep volcano, half asleep and beat to pieces, when the sky turned orange and I realized I was high above the clouds.

It was a special moment.

Sunrise on Mount Agung in Bali
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First peep of sunrise on the Mount Agung trek
Hiker on Mount Agung in Bali
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High above the clouds. This was one of the less steep sections near the end.

Ahead, you have the huge smoking crater of Agung, and you get to look straight down into it from the crater rim. Watch your step, because there’s not much walking space at the top and people have fallen into the crater. You don’t want to be a sacrifice to the gods.

The views at the top are otherworldly. To the east and west, you can see the far off peaks of Mount Rinjani and Mount Abang, respectively, along with the giant Batur caldera in Kintamani. To the south, you can see all the way to Sanur.

The beauty of the Mount Agung hike is only outweighed by the difficulty and sense of achievement when you reach the summit.
 

Hiker at the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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Looking into the crater of the Gunung Agung volcano.

Drone picture of the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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Drone picture of the Agung crater.
How Hard Is It?

The Mount Agung hike is very, very hard. It’s brutal. Mount Batur is a joke by comparison. The Agung hike is several times harder than Batur.

You don’t have to be an expert mountaineer to do this hike, but just being fit is not enough. You also have to be determined. Depending on which trail you take (see below), the hike can take up to 12 hours roundtrip, and you’ll gain up to 7,000 feet (2,150 meters) of elevation. That’s insane.

The last part of the hike is very steep, and in some places you’ll be climbing almost vertical in the dark. There were times when I seriously considered turning back, which is an unusual feeling for me.

For reference, I’ve done the Mount Everest Base Camp trek, Hawaii’s illegal Stairway To Heaven, and other famously difficult hikes, but this is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

After the Mount Agung trek, we ate two meals each, collapsed at our hotel in Amed, and slept for 16 hours straight. We could barely walk for days.

Hikers at the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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On this day, the crater rim was packed with locals doing the Mount Agung trek.
Drone picture of the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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The wind kicked up so much dust and smoke it almost looked like the volcano was erupting!
Hiker on the Mount Agung volcano in Bali
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High above the clouds on Gunung Agung
Hiking Route – Besakih Temple vs. Pura Pasar Agung

There are two main routes for hiking Agung. One starts from the famous Besakih Temple, while the other starts from a smaller temple called Pura Pasar Agung:

  • Besakih Route: This is the longest route. There’s an absolutely massive elevation gain of 7,000 feet (2,150 meters), and the hike takes 12 hours roundtrip. This route takes you to the true summit of Mount Agung at 10,308 feet (3,142 m).
  • Pasar Agung Route: This is the shortest and most common route. The elevation gain is 5,000 feet (1,500 m) and the hike takes 8 hours roundtrip. This route doesn’t take you to the true summit, but instead takes you to a false summit on the south crater rim at 9,944 feet (3,031 m).

Both routes are very difficult. The Pasar Agung route gives better views of the inside of the volcano crater, while the Besakih route ends on a tall ridge with great views of the whole landscape.

From the Pasar Agung trail it used to be possible to reach the final summit using a side path that joins the Besakih trail partway up, but apparently this path was ruined in the 2017 eruption.

Pagodas at Besakih Temple in Bali
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Pura Besakih temple pagodas
Main gate at Pura Pasar Agung temple in Bali
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Pura Pasar Agung main temple gate
What To Bring
  • Jacket: Bring two extra layers for the Mount Agung trek. You won’t need them for most of the trek, but at the top it can be very windy and cold before sunrise.
  • Footwear: Sturdy hiking shoes with good grip are a must for the Mount Agung hike. You’ll be walking on slippery gravel and steep inclines or declines.
  • Poncho: Weather can change on the mountain, so you might want to bring a rain jacket just in case.
  • Water: Bring at least 2 liters per person. The elevation gain is massive, and near the summit you’ll also have a bit of mild altitude sickness making you dehydrate faster.
  • Snacks: Energy bars for when you feel like you can’t take another step.
  • Headlight: This is absolutely essential for finding your way up safely in the dark. Mount Agung trekking tours for sunrise will provide cheapo headlights, but a quality light of your own will be even better.
  • Camera: Duh! Drone pictures here are amazing too, if you can bear the extra weight.
Drone picture of the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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The Mount Agung Bali crater. On the left, you can see the final summit.
Drone picture of the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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Another drone picture from the Mount Agung Bali hike.
When To Go

You could theoretically do the Mount Agung hike any month of the year, but this is already an intense hike and it would be 100% nightmarish (and unsafe) in the rain.

The best trekking months are definitely April to October, when there’s less chance of rain and the mountain visibility is best.

Hikers at the Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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Mount Agung sunrise at the crater rim.
Mount Agung volcano crater in Bali
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Inside the volcano crater you can see red lava imprints in the rock layers.
Agung false summit in Bali
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The crater rim elevation is 3,031 meters, about 100m shy of the actual summit.
Mount Agung Tour Guide / Mafia Requirement

Just like at Mount Batur, there’s a local trekking group (mafia) that doesn’t let anyone climb the Agung volcano without paying for a local Balinese tour guide.

This time around, a guide definitely makes sense for safety and navigation both. There are several steep spots on the Mount Agung trek where you can be killed or seriously injured if you fall, especially in the dark. Having a guide to show you the easiest paths helps a lot.

Our Agung tour guide was Gede Arsana and you can contact him via WhatsApp (☎ +62 852-3900-1424) or Facebook. The normal price is about 600k Rupiah per person, not including transport, although you can usually negotiate this lower.

I didn’t notice any ‘guards’ enforcing the guide rule when we went, but that was during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic when all the tourists were gone from Bali and things were quieter, so your experience may vary.

A lot of Russian hikers climb Mount Agung without a guide, and they routinely injure themselves, go missing, or worse.

Jungle and forest on the Mount Agung hike in Bali
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Flowers near the start of the Mount Agung trek.
Jungle and forest on the Mount Agung hike in Bali
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Foggy forests on the way back down from the Gunung Agung trek.
Jungle and forest on the Mount Agung hike in Bali
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One of the last pictures I took on the way back from the Mount Agung hike.
Mount Agung Without Guide – Directions

If you’re resolved to hike Mount Agung without a tour guide, the first hurdle is finding the trailhead at night. You’ll need to follow the directions below carefully.

Park your vehicle at Pura Pasar Agung and start walking up the concrete steps until you see the main gate of the temple. It’s the pointy Balinese gate shown earlier in this guide.

When you reach the gate don’t go inside, but instead turn left and walk around the outside of the temple. Go down a small flight of stairs, and then straight across the flat concrete foundation near the side of the temple.

At the edge of the trees, you’ll see a small path leading into the jungle. Follow this path and keep going up, up, up the slope until you emerge from the treeline hours later near the mountain top.

When you get above the treeline, the path becomes harder to follow. Some of the boulders are marked with white spray paint arrows and Indonesian words, but these are almost impossible to see in the dark.

The best advice I can give for the scrambling section is to take a right turn any time you encounter a fork in the path. To reach the crater rim, you’ll have to cross a trough by climbing up the rocks on the right side.

Again, I would strongly advise against hiking Mount Agung without a guide.

Entrance directions for the Agung hike from Pura Pasar Agung
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Entrance directions for the Agung hike from Pura Pasar Agung
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Entrance path for the Agung hike from Pura Pasar Agung
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Where To Stay

There aren’t really any homestays near the Mount Agung trailhead, so you’ll have to base yourself elsewhere in Bali.

The closest place to base yourself is Sidemen, Candidasa, Amed, or Kintamani. Of course, you can also do this hike from the touristy areas like Ubud or Kuta, but there’s a bit longer drive in each direction.

Personally I’m a big fan of Amed, because it’s also a chill place to relax after the hike and you get awesome views of the Agung volcano from the beach.

Happy travels!

Sunset at Amed Beach in Bali
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Gunung Agung sunset at Amed Beach
Ubud Hotels
 
More Bali Travel Tips

I hope you were helped by this Mount Agung trekking guide.

Don’t forget to check out my complete Bali Travel Guide with free tips, info, photos, and more!

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