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Bali Axes Ban On Tourist Access To Sacred Mountains

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In June 2023, the then Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, announced a complete ban on activities on all twenty-two of Bali’s mountains.

Koster declared that neither tourists nor local people would have access to the island’s peaks moving forward. Even Balinese Hindu communities would only be permitted to access the sacred landscapes in very specific circumstances. 

Woman hiking in Bali

Koster’s announcement sparked huge backlash across Bali, from tour guides to local communities, from guesthouse owners to tourists themselves; the ban was certainly not well received.

In a post-pandemic era, tour guides and tourism businesses in the area that benefit from activities on the mountains were fearful that they would lose yet more income just as they had started to feel a sense of financial security again.

@tilly.valentine 10/10 🌋 #mountbatur #bali #sunrise #hike #volcano #thingstodoinbali #travel ♬ Sweet Disposition FeelingBlew – Feelingblew

At the time of the announcement, Koster told reporters that the ban was immediate and permanent, but just over three months on the lay of the land suggests something very different.

Koster had suggested that he would be working to create provincial legislative changes that would enable the Bali government to implement a total ban on all access to the mountains, overriding policies in place at the central government level. 

However, despite the Acting Governor of Bali, Sang Made Mahendra Jaya, confirming that he would honor all legislative changes that are in the pipeline during his time in office before the 2024 elections, it seems that Koster’s plans have been scuppered by water-tight policies held by the central government. 

@tilly.valentine 10/10 🌋 #mountbatur #bali #sunrise #hike #volcano #thingstodoinbali #travel ♬ Sweet Disposition FeelingBlew – Feelingblew

It is the case that provincial governments across Indonesia can implement temporary access bans to landscapes like volcanos and mountains in the name of public safety.

Such as in the event of a volcanic eruption, earthquake, landslide, or tsunami. 

Despite Koster’s announcement in June, activities on Bali’s most popular mountains, Mount Batur, Mount Agung, Mount Abang, and Mount Batukaru have continued throughout this period with little to no interruption from the authorities. 

@bali_karisma_holidays Sunrise Gunung Batur Kintamani.. #kintamani #gunungbatur #sunrisebaturmountain #gunungbatur #wisatabali #balitour #balidriver ♬ bunyi asal – musik random – dramadramaqu

The Head of the Kintamani Conservation Forest Management Unit (KPHK), at the Bali KSDA Center, Made Budiadnyana Putra, has spoken to the press about what he and his teams are observing in terms of tourist activity and operations on the mountains since Koster’s landmark announcement.

Putra revealed that the drought and wildfires around the mountains in Kintamani and the wider Bangli Regency have not deterred tourists from wanting to experience the world-famous sunrise hikes. 

He explained that Mount Batur is still averaging 200 hiking visitors a day, with up to 500 people during peak seasons and some weekends.

Putra shared that although the ban looks like an impossible feat given the legislative red tape, this doesn’t mean tourists should be given unsupervised access to the mountains. 


Purta explained that for many reasons, all tourists should be accompanied by a guide, especially during wildfires. 

He said, “Mountain areas tend to be safer. The ones that are prone to fire are on the sides of the highway. Because there are open assets, there are potential causes of fire. One of them could be people throwing cigarette butts carelessly.”

Putra added that his teams always urge climbers not to throw rubbish carelessly and to help protect the mountain area from potential fires. “This appeal was conveyed directly and through banners.”


Putra also explained in detail why Koster’s ban is not a simple idea to implement.

“The Governor (Former Governor Wayan Koster) wrote a letter to Jakarta. The ministry hoped that it would focus more on structuring and restrictions. Because based on PP No: 28 of 2011 it cannot be permanently closed continuously.”

He explained that this piece of legislation only permits the provincial government to close the mountain “either in part or in whole…for example when a disaster occurs or something that endangers society.” 


He continued to share that “based on the Carrying Capacity Document that has been carried out by the Bali Ecoregion Development Control Center (P3E), the peak of Mount Batur has a capacity of 500 people. Currently, the average climbing activity per day is 200 people.”

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Friday 27th of October 2023

Collective punishment never works. Better to just screen the few who might want to mess it up for the rest of us who respect local cultures. Let it be known that deliberate disrespect will be met with serious consequences.


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Typical Drastic decision making without looking at the short and long terms consequences. People livelihood and environment safety should be consider. Between his decision of all electric cars due to air pollution and the lack of tackling the very serious plastic pollution in river , streams and sea , I always wondered where was truly this man’s sense of priority.


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Governor Wayan Koster 🤣🤣🤣🤣


Thursday 26th of October 2023

As usually, always engaging mouth/action before brains. Hopefully Koster will not be re-elected. The current acting governor seems to have more intelligence and sense, elect him!


Sunday 29th of October 2023

As Acting Governor he cannot stand for election.


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Koster was talking crap and no one cared about it. He should stop drinking so much Arak.