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Wherever you stand in Bali in the morning, you can spot the magnificent 3154m high Gunung Agung volcano. It is not only a volcano that last erupted in 1963 it is also a holy place where all spirit of Balinese Ancestors dwell. This mountain is also of great significance in the Indus religion. I have been watching this mountain for the last 5 weeks, waiting for a perfect day and some people who would attempt the climb without guide with me. I finally find 2 Yoga friends, Steven and Rebecca that are willing to wake up at 04:30. We drive at the foot of the mountain (1500m) and from there start the 1600m climb. It is a 4km, 40% straight-shot without switchbacks. The first part, up to 1800m is very lush. The second part until 2400m is mostly pine trees and other conifers. The last part reminded me strongly of Lanzarote: a bare, black, rocky landscape. The last meters are a bit more difficult but the reward at the top is great. A beautiful large crater of ochre and reddish rocks. At the bottom a few pools with muddy water. It is 10:30. We are at the top with a great feeling of satisfaction. The air is fresh & crisp. A welcome change from the constant high humidity back down in Ubud  .

The climb was in many ways rewarding. Yes there was this beautiful crater, but it was also a fantastic day to spend with friends, talking about nothing and everything. Last but not least a great fitness training to strengthen my knee and although going down was taxing for the knees, it felt good to know that it can hold again this type of effort.  Another 3 weeks and I will be able to start running again!!!

I look every morning at Gunung Agung from our veranda in Ubud. It is not an objective anymore, it has become part of my world, a kind of acquaintance. I am quite sure everyone feels this way with mountains. Once you have been on top of it you look at it differently, knowing the price and the reward.

(The Gunung Agung Pic is not my own)

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The first issue is to find a map with marked hiking paths. I found none. The second issue; even Garmin Connect has literally no GPS courses mapped beyond Ubud centre. The third issue; coming down from the North are multiple but bridges on the contrary are quite scarce, so you might end up going up or down a stream from some kilometres before being able to cross it. All those constraints should not prevent anyone to go and discover the countryside and the mountains/volcanoes of Bali. The impossibly green rice fields, the jungle (and sometime pristine rain forest), the scenic rivers, the friendly people along the way, the fresh air up in the mountains, all are great rewards for the effort made. It is the second time after Lanzarote that I travel with sport gears and I do not regret it a bit. It is a new way for me to discover a region, far away from any touristic path. Hiking in Bali is meeting the true spirit of this island, if you ask me.

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The first hike was around Ubud, the second one on the 2nd highest peak of Bali, the extinct Gunung Abung volcano. On the second hike, I did not meet a single tourist. The only encounter I did was on the top of the volcano. 4 Balinese from Denpasar were picnicking after making some offerings to the gods at the temple erected at the top of the mountain.IMAGE_077

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