The last time Mount Agung erupted was in 1963 and left a devastating mark on the island with reportedly 1000-1500 people killed. Every day thousands of people flocking to the Besakih Temple (Pura Besakih , or, The Mother Temple), Bali’s largest Hindu temple complex which is located right on the slopes of Mount Agung and offers by the way spectacular vistas over the surrounding valleys. Back in 1963 many people were killed through pyroclastic flows, fast currents that contain a mix of hot gas and volcanic matter. In addition lava was flowing the volcano and travelled as far as 7km over a period of three weeks. What many people don’t know is that the lava missed the temple entirely even sometimes just by a few metres. Whether you’re spiritual or not, but this gives even me goosebumps. For the Balinese this was a miraculous sign by the gods and it was strongly believed that the explosion demonstrated their ultimate powers.
Did you know, Gunung Agung translates to The Great Mountain?
This, however, wasn’t the last time a volcano erupted in Bali. Mount Batur – which by the way is quite close to Mount Agung – last erupted in 2000 and before that in 1968 only 5 years after Mount Agung’s devastating eruption. Back then, the eruption was accompanied by lava emission, causing a giant lava field which looks pretty much like the moon’s surface. It’s now only accessible by motorcross bikes and 4x4s (do a Volkswagen Safari tour if you plan to visit the area).
Should I still go to Bali?
That’s the ultimate questions thousands of travellers facing right now. For those currently in Bali you should take out your travel insurance to cover any possible disruptions caused by Mount Agung. According to experts and officials, an eruption is imminent. If you’re deciding to fly in, here are some important points:
1. Follow your country’s Department of Foreign Affairs, who’ll be most likely having first-hand information. Do note that there is a 12 km exclusion zone around the volcano.
2. Follow the news on the net
3. If an eruption happens while you’re there, you have to deal with the ultimate travel chaos, speaking flights will be affected, the airport could be shut down and your return journey might be delayed for an unknown number of days. This in turn will raise the question whether you can afford to stay longer than planned in Bali.
4. Your travel insurance might not cover you as the status of Mount Agung is a known event which is widely published in the media.
5. Flights are still operating as usual though.
Will my travel insurance cover me?
If you’re trip was already longer planned and you had a travel insurance before the event was published in the media, you should be fine. If you have just taken out travel insurance, you’ll be most likely not covered as everyone was aware of Mount Agung. Many insurance had already their deadlines until end of last week. We highly recommend that you get asap in touch with your travel insurance for clarification.
How about locals living around Mount Agung?
Some 50.000 people living in and around the 12km exclusion zone have been evacuated. People either moved to friends, families and relatives or have been given shelter by random people and families. As there are many farmers living around the area of Mount Agung, it’s a huge challenge to transfer the animals to shelters and other places in Bali, simply due to a lack of available vehicles and people willing to transport them. Some farmers were able to rescue their animals while others were forced to sell them at very cheap prices. We are following the local news on Facebook, especially through our friends and family and it’s just amazing to see how the Balinese helping each other in such difficult times.
If you should be in Bali right now, stay safe and don’t go anywhere near the volcano’s exclusion zone. Be prepared to leave earlier than planned and contact your travel insurance. If you’re trip is already planned and paid for you might try to postpone it or get a refund.