There are a few natural phenomena that truly impress: total eclipses, calving glaciers, avalanches, tornadoes and, yes, erupting volcanoes. Back in November, we were lucky enough to get a front and centre view of Bali’s Mount Agung erupting – complete, for my son who was sleeping on the balcony, with a healthy coating of ash. Frankly, when it’s in action, Bali’s volcano delivers THE BEST views.
Provided you follow official guidance, getting a good view of an active volcano in action should not be dangerous. For Agung, Bali’s volcano, as of December 2017, there are two key elements. You should stay out of the danger/evacuation zone, which is clearly marked from the main roads, and you should stay well away from rivers. That’s because, besides ash and steam, the mountain is currently emitting fast-moving mud flows known as lahars or “cold lava”. When they get going, these things can carry boulders that take out bridges, and come in as fast as a flash flood. You have been warned.
If you want to keep an eye on what Agung is up to, not to mention whether it’s even visible, you can visit a webcam here (and check whether it’s safe to travel to Bali here). In the meantime, here’s a few places to get the best views of Mount Agung, Bali’s very own and most sacred volcano:
The picture above is one of the best shots of Agung from Pura Lempuyang I’ve seen (thanks to Brian Crawford for the image: follow him on Insta at @briancrawfordphotography ). The temple is perfectly positioned for the gate to frame the volcano. It’s an easy day trip from Amed, and doable from Ubud and South Bali, but I’m not aware of any nice places to stay in the immediate vicinity.
Now is a lovely time to visit Ubud, with the streets devoid of traffic and coach parties, even if the transport touts are getting rather desperate: so why not use the volcano as your excuse? There are all sorts of good positions to view Agung from around town, but both Indus Restaurant and the vegetarian Elephant Café offer lovely views across the gorge, not to mention stylish spaces and good food. If you wanted to stay over, Taman Indrakila has spectacular volcano views and very pretty bungalows, although the bathrooms let the side down: or check my post on where to stay in Ubud.
Check for discounts at Taman Indrakila on Agoda (or visit their website)
Sidemen is one of my absolute favourite places on Bali: exactly how the island is supposed to be, and Ubud used to be. Tiers of rice terraces pour down into a sweeping valley, with Agung dominating the skyline: patches of jungle stop it all looking too tame. The pic above is the view from one of the terraces at Kubutani, a trio of great value, quirky and characterful little villas, just before the eruption of November 2017. If you prefer the comfort of a hotel, Teras Bali is an excellent choice, with classically Balinese rooms, a gorgeous little pool and a solid Western-Indonesian menu.
Visit Kubutani’s website
Book Teras Bali at a discount on Agoda.com (or visit their website)
I’m far from a fan of mainland Lombok’s tourist capital, Senggigi: think Sanur, with less charisma. However, if you’re exploring the more interesting parts of Lombok and fancy some beachfront cocktails with sunset views of an erupting volcano across the ocean, then swing by Qunci Villas. The cocktails are excellent; the rooms are stylish and solid value; and I’ve heard good reports of the food as well.
Check for discounts on Qunci Villas at Agoda (or visit their website)
The unremarkable little town of Rendang is where the volcanologists who monitor Agung are based, and it’s command central for a whole range of volcano activities. The view from Mahagiri is absolutely spectacular, with a patchwork of rice terraces that are beautiful even on a cloudy day. When Agung appears behind them, they’re jaw-on-the-floor stuff: even if it’s not erupting. You can stay here, come for their (pretty average) buffet lunch, or simply enjoy a drink with an amazing view.
Check for discounts at Mahagiri on Agoda.com (or visit their website)
While Agung is at level 4, I would not recommend staying in Tulamben. The Amed-Lipah strip of this diving area is safe, however, although there is the potential for road blockages in the event of an explosive eruption. If you stay here, you can enjoy spectacular volcano views and, sadly for the local dive industry, have dive sites including the world-class USAT Liberty wreck pretty much to yourself: now is a great time to learn to dive in Amed. Bali Villa Coral has two lovely, two-storey bungalows right on a shallow beach in Jemeluk; Coral View Villas has very stylish bungalows, many with freestanding baths, in Lipah, close to the excellent EuroDive.
Check for discounts at Coral View Villas on Agoda (or visit their website)
Check for discounts at Bali Villa Coral on Agoda (or visit their website)
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Source: Escape Artistes