Mount Agung is the most sacred mountain in Bali and is a popular spot for hiking and camping. Much loved by the adventure community as a challenging yet rewarding destination for outdoor activities, officials are warning hikers not to camp near the summit. Mount Agung is an active volcano, and Bali is at the height of the rainy season. Local leaders are reminding adventure seekers to respect Mother Nature’s unpredictability.
Speaking to the media, the Head of the Observation Post of Mount Agung, Dewa Made Mertayasa, urged hikers not to camp near the summit of the sacred peak. He said, “If you want to stay overnight, we urge you not to get too close to the top of Mount Agung because it is very dangerous during extreme weather like now.”
Across Bali, communities are struggling to cope with flooding, landslides, and damage to homes and village buildings caused by heavy storms. Mertayasa said campers should not pitch tents any closer than one kilometer from the summit. He added, “The point is that you are equally vigilant. If it is not possible to stay overnight, you should not.”
The Coordinator of Mount Agung Climbers, I Wayan Widi Yasa, said that it is not all that common for hikers to want to camp at the summit but that, nevertheless, the warnings should be heeded. He said that most hikers summit the impressive peak, pause for rest and reverence, and quickly begin their descent. He said that the majority of those who camp on Mount Agung are domestic tourists. Yasa said he feels that international tourists do not camp in the Mount Agung area due to the limited nature of their trips to Bali.
@abd.wah Gunung Agung 3.142 mdpl #agungmountain #mountagungbali ♬ Right Now speed audio – 1D Audioz
Yasa said that even in low season, around fifty people camp on Mount Agung, especially at the weekends. He said that visitors should honor the warnings but didn’t feel it would impact the overall experience for hikers to camp lower down the volcano.
@pendaki.pribumi Mount Agung, you have truly taken my breath away ❤️ The best views indeed come after the hardest climbs. Video by @stegunova #mountagung ♬ suara asli – Pendaki pribumi 🌎
The warnings come as all those who decide to visit any of Indonesia’s sacred peaks are being urged to respect the land they are visiting. On the 23rd of February, a video went viral in Indonesia of a domestic tourist holding a smoke flare at the top of Mount Gede Pangrango in West Java. Not only did the use of the smoke flare dishonor the sacred summit, but it also caused distress to other climbers.
Back in Bali, the provincial government is working in partnership with spiritual leaders to draft new policies to heavily limit tourist activities in, on, and around the island’s mountains. In light of a series of serious incidences that impacted the sacred nature of the mountains, Bali Governor Wayan Koster has committed to ensuring the island’s sacred landscapes are preserved and celebrated as such.
Speaking last month, he said, “Earlier, I followed the directives of the regional regulations. First, there are aspects of sacred areas, including the mountain, which is arranged from the bottom to the top of the mountain, to be used as a sacred area. [The details are] in line with my expectations because the Sulinggih [High Priests] have made decisions for a number of mountains in Bali to be made holy areas.“
The decision comes as both domestic and international tourists have been caught taking part in activities that disrespect Bali’s mountains, sometimes intentionally and at other times by accident. In November 2022, an American tourist died during his descent from the summit of Mount Agung. The man, known by his initials KLH died shortly after Karangasem Search and Rescue teams reached the precarious position that he had fallen into.
A Canadian national was deported from Bali last year after he posted a video of himself naked and doing the Haka atop sacred Mount Batur. Despite a tearful 18-minute video posted on his Instagram, Jeffrey Douglas Craigen was swiftly deported and blacklisted from Indonesia for his deeply disrespectful behavior.
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