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Island Life Photography in Bali Part 2: Mount Batur

Mount Batur is known as a sacred mountain according to Hindu beliefs. It's the most active volcano in Bali and its last eruption was recorded in 2000. Located in Batur village, Kintamani District, the peak sits at 1717 metres (5,633 ft.) above sea level and offers breathtaking views of Lake Batur and its mountainous surroundings, as well as black lava remains from the last explosion. Whether you love photography or just want to have the best possible experience, the best way to enjoy this hike is by getting up bright and early. It can be summited by most hikers in around 2 hours; my friends and I did it in 1 hour and 24 minutes. 

mount batur bali - eos 5d mark iv

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM; f/4; 1/160 sec.; 70mm; ISO-640

Setting off before dawn

The sunrise trek is a popular hike for tourists, and as soon as I heard about it, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stand at the top of an ancient volcano and watch the sun rise over the sea. 

bali photography canon eos 5D mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF11-24mm f/4L USM; f/8; 1/800 sec.; 24mm; ISO-640

I left Canggu on my motorbike around 2AM to meet my friends in Kintamani, who spent the night at the foot of Mount Batur. I took almost 2 hours to reach them on my bike. It was a long way from Canggu, and if you don't know the area I suggest to get a package deal for a guided tour and driver. I just like to do things on my own and learn from what I see and hear. 

mount batur balieos 5d Mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF11-24mm f/4L USM; f/4; 1/800 sec.; 11mm; ISO-640

You can expect to change the sunrise from 6-6:30AM, so we started climbing at 4AM. The hike was approximately a 5-km roundtrip. You will walk along some leaves, some dried sandy lava, and rocks. We were hiking in complete darkness, the path was illuminated by nothing more than our flashlights. 

mount batur with eos 5d Mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF11-24mm f/4L USM; f/4; 1/4000 sec.; 11mm; ISO-640

Summiting to the scenic sunrise

Once we reached the top at sunrise, the sky turned from black to blue, pink and then orange. With the light, we can see how far we’ve climbed. I was sitting on a stone ledge overlooking the foggy village rooftops, drinking hot tea and setting my camera up to take some shots. It was windy and cold.

mount baturs eos 5d Mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM; f/4.5; 1/8 sec.; 70mm; ISO-160

Across the valley to where I was pointing my camera, there was an even higher volcano: Mount Agung, the most sacred mountain and highest point on the island. The sun will rise right next to it, and that was the moment I was waiting for. 

mount batur eos 5D mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM; f/5.6; 1/4 sec.; 150mm; ISO-160

Beauty with just the right gear

I shot mostly in low light using the EOS 5D Mark IV. The EOS 5D Mark IV felt very similar to the EOS 5D Mark III, just slightly lighter with simlar  buttons and menu layout. I was surprised at how responsive and easy the autofocus was even in the dark. The ISO sensitivity  was also greatly improved, producing images that looked impressive.

eos 5d Mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF50mm f/1.4 USM; f/5.6; 1/100 sec.; 50mm; ISO-500

Back at the bottom, my friends and I decided to explore lake Batur and the villages surrounding it. We found a cemetery, which you can only reach by boat, with bodies decomposing around scattered skulls on the ground. There was a strange vibe in there and we didn't like how some of the locals were using the dead for money.

trunyan village - eos 5D Mark IV

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF11-24mm f/4L USM; f/5; 1/160 sec.; 20mm; ISO-640 (Trunyan Village)

Beautiful, calm and breathtaking, the Kintamani district is the perfect place to escape from the polluted and bustling parts of bali.

mount batur kintamani

EOS 5D Mark IV; EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM; f/4; 1/400 sec.; 70mm; ISO-640

Want to know my full Bali experience? Stick around for more, my next article on my adventure in Ubud is coming up soon!

Read up on Rafael's adventure in Bukit Peninsula, Bali.

Click the below articles for some tips and tutorials in photographing sunsets:

Capture the Fiery, Vibrant Colours of Sunrise
Step-by-step: Capturing a Cool, Early Morning Landscape Shot
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Morning or Evening?
Early Morning Landscape Photography: To Shoot Before or After Sunrise?


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Rafael Moura

Rafael Moura

A photographer and surfer from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. His motto is: I live the life I love. He is currently based in California, USA.

www.instagram.com/rmbagus