Is it Safe to travel to Bali Right Now? By Someone Actually in Bali
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard by now that the largest volcano in Bali, Mount Agung, is expected to erupt any day now. With the impending eruption of Mount Agung a lot of people are questioning whether it’s safe to travel to Bali right now.
Quite rightly so, but unfortunately most of the information that has been being shared about the situation has been sensationalist, to say the least, and if everything were true I would currently be swimming around in a giant pool of lava whilst simultaneously trying to fight off a massive Tsunami (I’m in Bali at the moment if you hadn’t guessed).
Tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are no laughing matter. But some of the news coverage of what’s actually going on in Bali has been laughable at best and wildly inaccurate at worse (there never was an Tsunami alert raised unlike what you may have read in the paper). For those of you thinking of coming to Bali or who already have a flight booked here’s a view from the ground of what it’s actually really like in Bali and how safe it is right now.
Before I go any further, to be clear I am not a volcanologist (yes I had to look that word up). All I am is someone who reads a lot and is here. Having seen some of the panicked questions about whether it’s safe to travel to Bali right now, I think that last part is important. It’s impossible to know what a situation is like unless you’re actually in it.
Much more important than all of that, and irrespective of whether of not it is safe to travel to Bali right now, there are people whose lives have been significantly effected by the predicted eruption and whose lives are likely to be disrupted for quite a while longer yet. Please help support them by looking at the information below and donating to the Go Fund Me Campaign for Mount Agung.
Donate to Help Evacuees From Mount Agung
Even if you're not planning to come to Bali you can help support those whose lives have been thrown into turmoil as a result of the impending eruption. Last I heard 75,000 had been evacuated from the surrounding area of the volcano. There are not enough carbon masks to protect from the ash of the volcano or supplies for all of those effected. Please help support those who have been made to leave their homes with nothing by clicking here to donate.
What is actually going on?
As I write this Mount Agung is currently on level IV, red alert, status. That's the last stage before an actual erupting volcano. Approximately 75,000 people have been evacuated from the surrounding area. The evacuation zone has been increase to 12km from the volcano’s summit. It’s about 3-5km from the base of the volcano to the summit itself. Although people think of Bali as a small little tropical island this ain’t no Koh Phi Phi in Thailand where you can walk from one side to the other in 30 minutes. Bali is 5,780 km². 145km in length. There’s quite a lot of Bali that isn’t in that 12km zone.
So, is it still safe to travel to Bali right now?
In my opinion, and that of the Indonesian government (see image below), yes*.
The volcano may or may not erupt (it’s probably going to erupt) but the actual specific impact zone of that eruption is only predicted to be 12kms from the summit. As mentioned above, there’s a whole lot of the rest of Bali that isn't in that impact zone.
If the volcano were to erupt the only reported risk to other areas is if, and this is a big if, an ash cloud were to fall in the location you’re in.
I say this is a big if because it entirely depends on wind direction and movement as to where the ash cloud will drop. Based on current wind direction it’s predicted to land in the sea.
Obviously if the wind changes direction and if it were to land where you are that would of course then have an impact on you and would come with some risks. There is a great resource here as to what to do in the event of an ash cloud falling where you are . They key things being to wear a carbon filter facemask and cover yourself head to toe if going outside. It is recommended to stay inside where possible whilst the full brunt of the cloud is going strong.
It would therefore disrupt your holiday but it is unlikely to kill you.
Those who have respiratory problems or health conditions are advised to take extra precautions. If you’re in any doubt as to whether this includes you, go see a medical professional to make sure you’re clear on the facts.
But isn’t there a risk of getting stuck in Bali?
Yes absolutely. There is a very big risk you may get stuck in Bali if you fly in before the eruption. I have been in Bali long enough to have seen the airport closed 3 times due to ash clouds from volcanoes going off in Lombok and Java. If Mount Agung erupts it is very likely to close the airport in Bali.
When deciding whether to still come to Bali right now, assuming the airport doesn’t close before you’re due to depart, whether being stuck will be a significant inconvenience for you is therefore extremely worthwhile considering.
One of the factors to take into account with this will also be whether your travel insurance will cover the additional costs incurred by you in the event of that situation occurring.
What’s it like there at the moment?
I’m in Seminyak right now and other than the fact that people have been mass panic buying carbon filter facemasks (so much so every shop on the island has sold out) you would have no idea what is going on if you just arrived. I haven’t felt any tremors, there’s no ash and people are going about their lives as normal. This is the same in other popular tourist areas such as Canggu and Kuta too. In Ubud some people have felt tremors as they’re much closer to the volcano but other than that, again no difference.
When the news reports are saying things like there have been 1000 tremors in a 48 hour time period and it's expected to increase, that is true. But those tremors are located around the volcano and haven't been impacting the whole of the island. Again, it's a reasonably large island.
Should I travel to Bali right now?
This is very different to the question of “can I?” or “is it safe?”. To those first two questions my answer would be yes, the airport is open and unless you have respiratory or heart problems then it is also safe*.
Whether you should travel to Bali right now is a much more difficult question.
There are huge numbers of people who’s lives have been displaced and will be completely turned upside down as a result of this volcano. About 75,000 have been evacuated. At the evacuation camps there aren’t enough supplies and facemasks to go around. All of these people who have been evacuated will also most likely lose their homes and livelihoods as a result of the eruption if it happens. There have already been reports of people who refused to evacuate because they didn’t want to leave their livestock as that is their only means of supporting themselves after the eruption. For the people who live near the volcano this is going to have long lasing and extremely damaging effects on their lives. It already is and the volcano hasn’t even exploded yet (just a littie reminder there’s a link at the top and bottom of this page you can use to donate to support those most effected).
There is another an argument within this that you would also be putting a strain on resources that could go to someone else.
There are however countless businesses in Bali, outside of the evacuation zone, that rely on tourism for their livelihoods and in order to be able feed their families. If everyone suddenly stops coming to Bali then not only will those who have been evacuated have their businesses' and ability to support their families effected but companies all over the rest of Bali too.
As for the question of how someone could enjoy their holiday knowing people are suffering so nearby, you could ask that about anything in life at any time. There is always suffering. There are huge great injustices in the world and yet for the large part those not suffering them get on their lives as if nothing is going on. You could even ask of any normal time period in Bali how people can enjoy their holiday knowing there are those that are struggling to be able to feed themselves so nearby in poorer areas. Cancelling your holiday will not stop someone's suffering, just as eating less will not cure world hunger.
What you can do, other than donating below 👇 *hint hint*, is bring supplies with you if you are going to come. There are no more carbon masks available to buy on the island and as I mentioned the evacuation camps don’t have enough nor do they have enough basic supplies of things such as soap and nappies. There are donation drop of points in all touristy areas so you can bring things of use with you to donate. That way not only will your holiday help prevent the tourism industry from crashing and burning you will actually help bring in valuable resources that are desperately needed.
It’s up to you how you feel about whether you should come to Bali right now, but my view from the ground is that it is safe and if an ash cloud falls where you are while you’re here you’re probably going to live through it just fine.
Donate to Help Evacuees From Mount Agung
Please help support those whose lives have been thrown into turmoil as a result of the impending eruption. Last I heard 75,000 had been evacuated from the surrounding area of the volcano. There are not enough carbon masks to protect from the ash of the volcano or supplies for all of those effected. Please help support those who have been made to leave their homes with nothing by clicking here to donate.
*One more time, I'm not a volcanologist and I take no responsibility for your decisions either way. All I'm trying to do is provide you information on what it's actually like in Bali right now and give a unhyped version of events so that you can make your own decisions. Those decisions are however your responsibility, you are adults afterall.
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I'm Chantell. I quit my job to travel in 2014 and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. I know first hand how hard it can be to get everything in place in order to be able to travel, to know what to pack and where to go, let alone how best to go about your travels once on the road. Here I share everything I've learnt so far so you don't have to learn through as much "trial and error" as I did.
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