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Bali bans access to mountains after tourists defile sacred volcanoes, guides despair

New Zealand Herald - June 11, 2023

Thomas Bywater – Access to Bali's 22 mountains is to be forbidden indefinitely following a government crackdown.

The majestic volcanoes are to be put off limits to tourists and locals in a bid to preserve the sanctity of the sacred peaks.

Travellers to the Isle of Gods with dreams of visiting Mount Batur or Mount Agung could be permanently grounded.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the new measures last week as part of a local bylaw (Perda) covering the island's holy peaks.

"The mountains hold a sacred essence, making them revered grounds. Hence, we are prohibiting mountain climbing activities," Koster told Detik Bali.

Unsanctioned activities in the parks are to be prohibited with no exceptions for either Indonesians or international tourists.

Although there would be provisions for essential access to the volcanoes such as ceremonies, disaster management.

There are currently dozens of small businesses and independent guides whose livelihood relies on taking tourists up the mountains. Tours are readily advertised from $75 per person for a private sunrise tour on Mount Batur to $500 for an overnight guided camp on Mount Agung.

Mountain guide Gede Darmayasa said that the governor must find replacement work for those affected by the decree.

"We also have family and our livelihood is there so we hope there is a solution to make a living everyday," he said.

The Perda has immediate effect on the mountains and, many businesses argue, immediate negative impact on tourism.

Wangaya Gede Traditional Village which is near the Mount Batukaru conservation area told The Bali Sun of its concerns.

"I agree to keep chaste but disagree when people should be banned," said a spokesperson for the attraction. The pushback against

"We have been fighting in the village for two years to keep the mountains and temples pure. This is suddenly a ban."

Why are Bali's mountains banning visitors?

The mountains are being placed off limits, less for ecological conservation but as a moral conservation explicitly aimed the sanctity of the peaks

Wayan Koster's climber ban has been proposed for some time and is widely seen as part of a wider crackdown on unruly tourist behaviour in Bali.

Tourists have been accused of disrespectful acts on the sacred mountains including creating pornographic material and behaving immorally.

Last year a 34-year-old Canadian wellness instructor faced deportation after performing a Ka Mate haka on the side of Mount Batur.

The incident came just months after Police in Bali's Bangli regency were reportedly investigating a 'porn shoot' that took place on the mountain.

Source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/bali-bans-access-to-mountains-after-tourists-defile-sacred-volcanoes-guides-despair/VR4HKSZLIBGGFENE2FYZP44ZGY