Imagine golden sunrises, misty unpaved roads, and lushly forested trails that lead to a mystical waterfall.
Even for a top tourist destination, Bali still offers plenty of surprises. If you’re not one for crowds and seek a quiet but adventure-packed, off-the-beaten-path experience, head up to North Bali’s central, highland region.
A Step Back in Time
North Bali is the perfect place to soak in the local and colonial history. Its main cities Lovina, Seririt, and Singaraja are far removed from the bustle of the island’s central, eastern, and southern townships. Nevertheless, the friendliness of the locals is ever-present, as with the rest of this famed Indonesian province.
Another prominent characteristic of North Bali is its Dutch colonial heritage, with its wide streets decorated with old houses and large gardens. These images create a charming juxtaposition to the ancient Hindu sea temples, colossal monuments, and abundant tropical foliage.
Heading for the Mountains
While the beaches in North Bali are pristine and laidback, the scenic drive and thrilling canyoning in Gitgit, Yeh Mampeh, Munduk, and other waterfalls is the cream of the crop of your trip. As you head inland, you’ll find terrace rice paddies, plantations, and mountainscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see.
To snooze off during the trip would be a crime.
The former capital town Singaraja is the ideal jump-off point for the waterfall hikes. Getting there is fast and easy. It takes about an hour from Central Bali, two hours from Ubud, and three hours from South Bali.
I’d suggest taking the Lake Buyan scenic route from Bedugul to Seririt. Since it doesn’t take long to get there, it’s best to drive slow and just soak n the scenery.
There are several trekking points to choose from, depending on how many waterfalls you wish to visit. I’d recommend getting a tour package with a sizeable group to make the experience more fun. Group tours are an ideal and convenient option if you’re on a budget, and you get the chance to meet new people while exploring this beautiful region.
Deep into the Jungle
The waterfalls of North Bali, particularly in the Munduk village, are a sight to behold and share with your newfound friends. But to get there, you’ll need to prepare for a rough hike that involves clambering over rocks, traversing dense jungles, and getting wet pretty much throughout the tour.
The Sekumpul Waterfall is perhaps my favorite, as the trail is much more challenging, allowing you to appreciate the richly overgrown natural setting and a tall waterfall thundering down a wall of moss even more. I also highly recommend the Aling-Aling Waterfall in Sambangan – it has just the best spot for adrenaline junkies.
Chasing waterfalls in North Bali is an exhilarating adventure, but the region’s rugged remoteness also makes it a haven for relaxation. Yeh Mampeh Waterfall for me offers the most spiritual experience, with its slippery caves, lush canopy of trees, pure fresh water, and cool breezes.
Bali has become an overrated destination for those who seek the remote. But a few hour’s drive from the more popular destinations, pictures of unspoiled nature still exist. On your next trip, be sure to make a pit-stop in North Bali or even better, plan your entire itinerary around it.