21 dec Bali Volcano News: part 1
We frequently get questions from customers about the volcano situation in Bali and many ask how we are doing. Here at Joe’s we are all doing fine, fortunately, as our dive center is quite far away from the volcano. Of course we have been worried like many of you what the impact of the volcanic activity is, as it is something we have not experienced before. The last time the Mount Agung volcano erupted was in 1963. Now that we are a few months in though, we find we get great and frequent communication from the government about the volcano which is very reassuring. In fact we get updates every 6 hours, which allows us to plan all our trips easily taking into account the current safety levels.
For those we have not really been following Mount Agung, let’s first have a look at what actually happened and what the fuzz is about.
In September this year the impressive Mount Agung volcano started to become increasingly active for the first time since its last eruption in 1963. There was a substantial amount of earthquakes in the vicinity of the volcano as the magma found its way through. The government raised the volcano status alert level to the highest level for a bit over a month and many people living close to the volcano had to evacuate. At the end of October activity slowed down a bit, but at the end of November an eruption took place. Unfortunately winds were in the direction of the airport and the ash clouds caused the airport to close for 3 days. It took some time for all the airlines to recover from this and many tourists opted for diverting to different airports in Indonesia to return back home.
Many people living in the 8 kilometer evacuation zone are still evacuated and the crops in the mountain area have unfortunately been destroyed which is a disaster for the people involved. If you are interested in donating, have a look at the Kopernik website, they do great work in helping evacuees.
The alert level in the 8-10 km zone around the Mount Agung Volcano remains at the highest level, however earlier this week the government decreased the alert level for the rest of Bali substantially. The main tourist areas are 60-70 kilometers away from the volcano so are outside of the evacuation zone.
How does this impact diving?
We still organize daily dive trips to a wide range of dive sites in Bali including Padang Bay, Amed, Candidasa and Nusa Penida. The famous USAT Liberty wreck dive site though, which is relatively close to the volcano, is not always accessible. We always keep monitoring the updates on the volcano for that. Since a few days ago the government has declared the Tulamben area safe again, so we are scheduling to go there from this weekend. For all our dive trips we follow the government’s advice. If you have booked a trip with us to the Liberty wreck and we are not able to go, we will always contact you in advance offering you the option to cancel or to dive at another dive location. We will refund any deposits in case you decide to cancel.
So what about the air quality and the ash clouds?
So far the main tourist areas like Sanur, Seminyak, Kuta, Jimbaran and Nusa Dusa did not have any ash rain or noticed any ash when the volcano was erupting. The areas closer to the volcano have experienced ash rain when it was actively erupting.
And my flight?
The airport is open and is functioning normally. It is of course always possible that an eruption of the volcano can disrupt air traffic in the future. If that is the case, it is possible to go overland to nearby airports instead. This might result in a delay if you are bound to fly back. The government has buses on standby to take people to nearby airports should it be necessary to make the process as smooth as possible.
To avoid any unnecessary cost, make sure you take out travel insurance. Just make sure it covers you in case of volcano activity which seems to be the case in most instances at the moment.
So what’s nextâ€¦
No one really knows. The volcano might go to sleep again or we might have another eruption in the future. If it erupts and the winds are not in the direction of the airport, you might not notice it at all. As it is over 50 years ago since its last eruption there is not enough data available yet to predict the pattern. However as a nation used to dealing with volcanos, Indonesia is on top of accumulating all the data needed to be well prepared.
While it might sound worrying, as the volcano is such a strong force of nature. It actually plays an important role in Bali and an eruption creates new fertile grounds for the immediate area. On a side note, it has also resulted in the most stunning pictures of the volcano in action, leaving you in awe of the beauty of nature.
If you are on holiday in Bali, chances are high you will not even notice anything and can enjoy all the beauty Bali has to offer.
If you have concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us. We are always more than happy to help and can give you an accurate and honest opinion about the status.
And you are of course more than welcome to join one of our dive courses or dive trips as we still go out every day and dive on some of the most beautiful dive spots in the world :-).
To keep you updated about the developments around Mount Agung, we will be posting a regular blog from now on.