Many people woke up to see news about the eruption of Mt. Agung in Indonesia on November 21st, 2017. Following this global news coverage, there was a sudden spotlight shifted to the specific island where this volcano resides, Bali. What is this part of Indonesia like for someone who loves travel and photography? For the most part, the news stations were only sharing doom and gloom photos from the eruption. Due to this, it probably didn’t make it seem too appealing for travels unless you’re a photographer who has always wanted to photograph a volcano eruption.
I had the pleasure of visiting this location last year and actually hiked an active volcano just north-west of the one that exploded. I’d like to share my personal experiences with you all in order to convince you that this is a place that you should definitely visit.
Where to Visit
Most people who end up visiting Bali spend most of their time in the southern part of the Island. There are many beaches, restaurants and it’s convenient because it’s close to the airport. I would strongly advise you to stay far away from this area. I believe the worst thing you can do when traveling to a foreign country is getting caught up in tourist traps with hundreds of people. So many people use their precious vacation time and money to travel to a foreign place and end up getting a very fake, commercial experience.
In order to avoid this, you want to make sure to travel as far north as possible. I would say that the town of Ubud is about the lowest south that you would want to go. The real beauty of this island is found in the almost untouched nature in the far north. Find a place to stay as far north as possible and then spend your time taking in a natural beauty.
I would recommend renting a motorbike. Renting a bike is quite easy and affordable but if you’ve never ridden before I would do so with extreme caution. The roads are extremely narrow and not always in the best condition.
Once you’ve booked a nice place and gotten some transportation it’s time to explore!
There are 3 main volcanoes on the island. Mt. Batur, Mt. Agung and Mt Rinjani (all of them you can hike). Even though the recent eruption might scare you, serious eruptions like the one in November are rare. The most active one is Mt. Batur but as long as your check prior to doing the hike you should be totally fine.
Mt. Batur is the easiest and quickest one to climb. I woke up at 4 am and reached the summit for sunrise by around 6 am. It’s a pretty strenuous climb especially if you’re carrying your camera gear but if you’re in decent shape you should be able to do it no problem.
The scenery was absolutely stunning. The variety of plants along with the amazing views are something I’ll never forget. Once you reach the top you sit overlooking a serene lake that sits at the base of another massive mountain. You can also see where past eruptions in the past have charred the ground which is something I’ve never seen before in person. I would highly recommend doing this for the amazing experience and great photo opportunities.
There are many waterfalls on the island of Bali. Of course, you can easily find the ones that will be crowded with people but how can you find those amazing yet secluded places? One way is by using Instagram geotags. My friends and I look through travel photographers Instagram profiles and look at where they pinned their locations. It’s also good to follow Instagram profiles of people who are locals there. You can easily find great locations using this method.
My brothers and I found an amazing location using this method. We borrowed a car from a friend and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere far out in the northern part of the island. Eventually, we came across these barely visible signs and after about 30 mins of hiking, we came across an absolutely stunning location. We had it all to ourselves.
As a person who loves street photography, I found this location to be extremely suitable for this type of style. The locals are incredibly kind and easy to interact with. As long as you go up with a smile and are respectful, they are more than happy to let you take their photo. I don’t think I got denied once. One family even thanked me after I took their photo as if it was their privilege!
The location of Bali, especially in the north, is filled with tons of culture and lush scenery. You come across so many foreign looking structure and fascinating temples. The people also seem like they belong straight out of some foreign documentary. This a place where you definitely don’t want to ever be without your camera.
I would highly recommend this as one of the best spots that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting thus far in Asia. If you ever get a chance, take the opportunity to fully explore and take some amazing pictures!
Keep learning and have fun!