Lake Batur is Bali's largest lake, wrapping around the cone of the island's third tallest volcano. Although the pictures won't show this so well due to the foggy conditions, the scenery was absolutely fantastic. You'll just have to take my word for it.
Getting to the volcano is pretty easy, there's one main road from Gianyar through Bangli that goes all the way to top. Once at the village of Kintamani (which is a toll entrance of a few thousand Rupiah -- about 50 US cents), the road runs along the edge of the tall volcanic cliffs around the south and west sector. There are a number of vistas along the way, with the best one being where I took the first photograph.
In this photograph, you can make out both the volcanic cone and the huge lake to the right. If they look rather far away, it is because they are -- if my calculations on the map were right, the distance from the cone to where I stood was four miles.
The rainy season was a tough time to visit Batur, as the fog was everpresent and thick, but watching the weather patterns was fascinating. Because Batur was in fact an active volcano, there are hot springs nearby that caused clouds to form rapidly around the tip of the cone. The clouds became dark within twenty minutes, slowly moved off the cone to the south and west, and dumped huge torrential rains on me, leaving the cone temporarily clear and visible for a minute or two before the next storm formed.
The second photo came out overexposed, but what it is trying to show was the road leading to the lake and the tiny, heavily condensed village of Kedisan at lakeside. There were five such towns around Batur, each of which seemed to have its own private attraction -- one built up around the hot springs, one near an 'ancient traditional' Balinese town (whatever that means), etc. Kedisan itself was designed to be the tourist base with some small resorts available.
Considering that the drive down (and therefore back) looked hazardous given the rainy conditions, I opted not to go down. Perhaps during a return trip...
Kintamani itself was a fairly typical Balinese village, with a very large Hindu temple perched at cliff's edge. A portion of the Pura Batur is shown in the third photo, its morning offerings of rice and foods scattered all over the place due to the heavy rains that hit earlier. The Pura Batur is one of the more gilded temples I have visited, with fantastically decorated doorways and special offering booths. The complex is fairly large, about the size of a soccer field (though it still pales in size to the magnificent complex at Besakih).
Lake Batur is a destination to try during the dry season, I don't recommend it in rainy season. Tours exist that allow you to go up to Batur to witness the sunrise, and certainly the dry season would make lakeside activities available and enjoyable. The rainy season was just too foggy and wet to enjoy to its fullest.
Trip taken 4 January 2003 -- Page last updated 28 October 2006