There are two routes up the mountain, one from Besakih which
proceeds to the higher western peak and starts at
approximately 1,100 m (3,610 ft). The second route which is
reputed to take four hours (one-way) proceeds to the
southern peak and commences higher from Pura Pasar Agung,
near Selat. A path connecting the southern ascent with the
western ascent is available during the dry season. Cecilie
Scott provides an account of the ascent from Pura Pasar
Agung to the southern peak. Greg Slayden describes a climb
from Besakih claimed to have taken a remarkable four and
a half hours to the peak and Ken Taylor that took much
longer and which included getting lost.
Guides are available in Besakih and also in Pura Pasar
Agung. The mountain can also be climbed without a guide. The
climb from Besakih is quite tough. It is sometimes tackled
as a single climb generally starting about 10.00pm for a
dawn arrival at the peak and sometimes with an overnight
camp about three quarters of the way up. The climb from Pura
Pasar Agung generally starts around 2.30 am for a dawn
arrival. It is far harder than the more popular Balinese
climb up Gunung Batur. It is not a mountain that needs ropes
and not quite high enough for altitude sickness but adverse
weather conditions develop quickly and warm waterproof
clothing is required and should be carried. A dawn arrival
at the top is recommended in order to avoid clouds that
typically cover the top from approximately 9 am onwards.
There is no water available along the route.
For the Besakih route proceed through the temple complex
then continue on a path that travels continuously upwards on
a steep narrow spur through open forest and jungle most of
the way. There is little potential to get lost until the
route opens up towards the top where the correct route
doubles backwards. Many climbers miss this turn and continue
up a small valley which can be climbed out of with some
Mount Agung or Gunung Agung is a mountain in Bali,
Indonesia. This stratovolcano is the highest point on the
island. It dominates the surrounding area influencing the
climate. The clouds come from the west and Agung takes their
water so that the west is lush and green and the east dry
The Balinese believe that Mount Agung is a replica of
Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe. One legend
holds 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.
Gunung Agung last erupted in 1963-64 and 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, despite the existence of the large
From the peak of the mountain, it is possible to see the
peak of Mount Rinjani on the island of Lombok, although both
mountains are frequently covered in clouds.
On february 18, 1963, local residents heard loud
explosions and saw clouds rising from the crater of Mount
Agung. On February 24, lava began flowing down the northern
slope of the mountain, eventually traveling 7 km in the next
20 days. On March 17, the volcano erupted (VEI 5), sending
debris 8–10 km into the air and generating massive
pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages,
killing approximately 1500 people. Cold lahars caused by
heavy rainfall after the eruption killed an additional 200.
A second eruption on flows which killed another 200
The lava flows missed, sometimes by mere yards, the
Mother Temple of Besakih. The saving of the temple is
regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous and a signal
from the gods that they wished to demonstrate their power
but not destroy the monument the Balinese faithful had
Flora and fauna
Wild pigs and macaques abound on the forested slopes of
Mount Agung. Birdlife is impressive including frequent
sightings of hawks and eagles, but is not as obvious and
easy to observe as in the West Bali National Park.
Mount Agung dominates the surrounding area influencing
the climate. The clouds come from the west and Agung takes
their water so that the west is lush and green and the east
dry and barren.
The best time to climb Mount Agung is in the dry season
of April to October. January and February should certainly
be avoided if possible due to heavy rain, possible flooding
and even landslides in the area.
At lower elevations it remains tropical but becomes
distinctly cold and often very windy on the high bare rock
Mount Agung is most commonly approached from the south
via Klungkung and Candidasa, from the west via Besakih, or
from the east via Tirta Gangga and Karangasem. The east
coast road north from Amed through Tulamben and onto
Singaraja provides some awe-inspiring views of the mountain
across flat rubble plans.
Mount Agung is viewed as sacred and for that reason is
off limits to climbers during important ceremonies. Your
guide will know and will also be able to obtain any
necessary permissions from temple administrators for which
some nominal donation may be required.
Guide fees may vary between about Rp 400,000 and Rp
1,000,000 depending on how you arrange the guide, the route
taken and the level of English expected. Generally it is
possible to put all arrangements in place once you reach
Bali, but for peace of mind you might want to make contact
with guides before you leave home. Some guides speak far
better English than others.
There are three climbing routes up the mountain, all are
difficult and unless you are physically fit and have some
serious trekking experience, do not even attempt any of
From Besakih (west). This is a demanding climb starting
close to Besakih temple. The ascent will take about 6 to 7
hours and ends at the very highest point of the mountain.
The final hour or so is exceptionally demanding often
requiring ascent on all fours. A sensible start time is
about 11PM, so that you arrive at the top before dawn and
wait for the sunrise. Allow as long to get down as it took
you to get up.
From Pura Pasar Agung (south). A three to four hour climb
in which time you ascend about 2,000 metres. Not so stiff as
the Besakih route. The route ends about 100 metres below the
actual summit, but the views are still excellent in all
directions, as well as down into the actual crater. A
sensible start time would be about 2:30 AM, again with aim
of reaching the peak just before dawn.
A new way turn left at the middle of the climbing to
reach the summit in 4 hours. Only experienced people can
follow this road.
From Duku Bujangga Sakti (north). A seldom used route but
one which is most appropriate for less experienced trekkers
and the slightly less physically fit. The ascent starts at
300 metres and involves an overnight camp at 1,700 metres,
before the final ascent in the pre-dawn hours the following
day. This route also allows you to walk around the rim of
the crater to the absolute summit of the mountain. Mount
Agung viewed from the east Mount Agung viewed from the east
The service of a local guide is absolutely essential.
Guides can be arranged in advance via your hotel (especially
if you are staying in Candidasa or Amed), at the Pura Pasar
Agung temple close to the time of your planned climb, or via
the following contacts.
Wayan WIDI YASA is a local guide who first discovered the
new road to the top from Pura Pasar Agung. Tel: +62 852 372
Gung Bawa Trekking. Gung Bawa is an experienced local
Balinese guide with great reviews since 1996. He will guide
you on the Besakih or Pura Pasar Agung route. Has an office
in the village of Selat close to the the start of the Pura
Pasar Agung trek route. About Rp 500,000 per person.
Pondok Wisata Agung is a simple losmen in the village of
Selat and they offer guides for the southern ascent from
about Rp 400,000. Tel: +62 366 23037.
MG Trekking at Balina Beach in Candidasa specialise in
the little used northern ascent from Duku Bujangga Sakti.
Pura Pasar Agung is one of Bali's nine directional
temples and it sits at the start point of one of the ascent
routes up Mount Agung. It is close to the village of Selat
on the main road from Rendang to Karangasem.
The Sidemen/Selat area is stunningly beautiful. It
incorporates several valleys in the foothills of Mount Agung
on the route between Karangasem and Rendang. The drive
through this area is most scenic and one of the very best in
Bali. Stunning rice terraces, lush forested hill-sides and
the mountain itself, all combine to make this a magical area
to visit. If you stop in the village of Selat it is easy to
find local guides for undemanding hikes in the area.
Besakih is known as the Mother Temple of Bali. Besides
being the most important temple for the whole of the island,
another attraction of Besakih, actually a complex of
temples, is its dramatic location on the southern slopes of
Mount Agung. Part of the Besakih Temple complex. Part of the
Besakih Temple complex.
The usual way to get to Besakih is from Klungkung.
Besakih is about 20km north of the town centre. The road is
not too bad, if a little winding at times. There is also a
back road to Besakih south from Kintamani, and the hour-long
drive is beautiful as you pass through forests, villages and
fields. The road meets the main Besakih-Klungkung road just
before the entrance to Besakih. If you are coming from the
eastern end of the island, such as from Amed, Tirta Gangga
or Candidasa, you can also get to Besakih by taking a
smaller inland road from Karangasem. The road goes through
small villages such as Selat and the Bukit Putung lookout,
and meets the Besakih-Klungkung road at Rendang, where you
turn north (right) to head up to Besakih. The official car
park fee at Besakih is Rp 5,000 per vehicle.
Bemos run to Besakih from Klungkung. They are most
frequent in the morning. You may have to change bemos at
Rendang halfway between Klungkung and Besakih.
Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, causing devastation in
the eastern part of Bali and beyond.
Ancient Balinese texts demand that the most important of
Balinese Hindu rituals, the Eka Dasa Rudra, is performed
every 100 years to purify our world. Such a ceremony was
scheduled at Besakih temple in 1963. In February of that
year Mount Agung started to rumble, and high priests argued
that this was a bad omen from the Gods and that the wrong
date had been scheduled for the ceremony. By this time
though President Sukarno had arranged to attend with a group
of foreign dignatories and he ordered that the event must go
On March 8th the mountain was in a full pre-eruption
phase and on March 18th it blew with such force that the top
100 metres or more was blasted away. Lava spewed over much
of eastern Bali, a devastating gas cloud swept across
villages and ash destroyed all crops. Up to 2,000 people are
thought to have died and tens of thousands of homes were
destroyed. Quite remarkably, the mother temple of Besakih
perched high on the slopes of the mountain was relatively
untouched by this event, fuelling the local spritual
reasoning for the eruption. Further, many Balinese argued
that this eruption was a portent of dreadful things to come
and felt vindicated when the whole nation was plunged into
civil crisis in 1965.
The cleansing rituals from the 1963 ceremonies were
finally finished at Besakih in 1979.