Bali’s biggest volcano – Gunung Agung – is making headlines around the world as it rumbles then subsides, sending out a plume of ash & steam that varies in intensity and may or may not presage an eruption. If the volcano is drawing the eyes of the world at the moment, for the Balinese Gunung Agung is a constant presence, not just physically but in the very way that they conceive the world.
The Balinese belief system is a unique hybrid of Hinduism, animism and ancestor worship – and Gunung Agung is at the heart of this system. It is the abode of the ancestors, the sacred seat of the Hindu god Siwa, or Shiva – otherwise known as Batara Gunung Agung, home to Bali’s most sacred temple, Besakih. Every village temple is built to face it and the Balinese orient themselves by it. Ask a Balinese for directions and they’ll be explained according to the four cardinal points – north, south, east or west. Forget road names! And north usually means in the direction of Gunung Agung.
Gunung Agung is highly active – it last erupted in 1963, at a time when volcanology on the island was virtually non-existent. The response to the volcano’s recent activity has been far more rigorous. Locals living within the exclusion zone (10 kilometres at time of writing) have been evacuated and experts have been laser focused on seismic readings, lava levels within the crater and so forth.
Relatively minor magmatic eruptions occurred on 25 and 26 November – that is molten rock was ejected from the crater. As of December, the volcano has quieted down considerably. What does this mean for those planning to visit Bali?
First of all, it is perfectly safe! Bali’s airport, all of its southern resort districts and Ubud in the central highlands all lie scores of kilometres away from the exclusion zone. And that includes all of Karma’s resorts! Then there is the issue of travel disruption. As you will probably know, Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport was shut for a couple of days and flights were cancelled during the November eruptions, as ash clouds can be dangerous to aircraft. But all the signs right now are that the volcano has calmed down, with no ash reported on the ground in December and little steam emerging. It may well be that the minor eruptions last month reduced the pressure beneath the crater, making a major eruption less likely.
Of course, there are no guarantees – this is mother nature we’re talking about! But for all of us here in Bali life is carrying on as usual and our family of resorts is making preparations for another unforgettable festive season on the Island of the Gods. And we invite you to join us – because there’s another side to all of this of course. You get to witness a once in a generation occurrence – a spectacle to remind us of all the contained energy that makes life on this miraculous blue & green cosmic marble possible in the first place. It makes you realise why the Balinese hold it in such high esteem.
For those in Bali we ask you to show your support #IAmInBaliNow
Update: As the current situation with Mt.Agung is continuously changing, we recommend to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone +62 361 848 2202 to receive the most up to date information. Please be assured we have put in place flexible terms and conditions so you can book accommodation at any of our Karma Resorts in Bali with confidence!