Image courtesy of Artem Bali, on Unsplash
If you’ve been turned off visiting by images of disrespectful visitors in thongs and Bintang singlets drunkenly trodding all over religious offerings in the streets of Kuta, you’ll be glad to know there’s a lot more to Bali than this.
Bali’s nature and culture are the real reasons you should experience this magical island, off the coast of Indonesia. Though it can be hard to avoid the aforementioned people completely, do yourself a favour and stay somewhere away from the tourist centres, or at least get yourself a private villa rather than a hotel room.
Those looking for pure relaxation can easily spend their days having a massage or sitting poolside with lush jungle views, but if you’re looking for outdoor adventure there are so many ways to experience Bali‘s nature. These are just a few to add to your Bali itinerary.
White Water Rafting on Telaga Waja River (Sanur)
Image courtesy of Alam Amazing Adventures.
Most tours here take two to three hours, visit a waterfall along the way, and finish with a drop down a 4-metre spillway, which many visitors say is the highlight of their whitewater rafting experience. Alam Amazing Adventures is a highly rated tour operator, especially since a portion of their profits is donated to local environmental causes. If you can plan your trip during Bali’s wet season (November to March), you’ll have a more thrilling ride due to the heavy rainfall.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Batur
Image courtesy of Dan the Drone, on Unsplash
Mount Batur is an active volcano that peaks at 1,717 metres above sea level and is considered sacred by the Indonesian people. Highlights of the hike include the lush jungle you’ll weave your way through and views of the stunning Lake Batur. Summiting in time to watch the sun rise over the caldera lake is one of the most popular outdoor adventures in Bali.
If you want to avoid the sunrise crowds you can take a tour later in the day, but as with many other hikes in Bali it’s not a good idea to hike without a guide. This Outpost article gives a good idea of what you’ll face if you decide to try to do it yourself. There are loads of tours available and they can be booked from the operators in Bali’s tourist centres or via an online booking site like Viator Travel. Some tours even offer the chance to mountain bike back down Mount Batur after you hike up it, which sounds incredible.
Walk underwater with Bali Seawalker (Sanur)
Image courtesy of Seawalker Tour Sanur
If you don’t have any scuba experience or even if snorkelling gives you the heeby-jeebies because, let’s face it, breathing through a snorkel is creepy, this is the absolute best way to have an underwater experience. It’s perfect for the kidlets and be undertaken by anyone (who has the ability to walk and) who has an average level of fitness and no heart or respiratory conditions. They say you don’t even need to be able to swim, which I guess looks to be technically true, but I don’t think I’d be keen if I wasn’t a swimmer.
Trek to Bali’s highest summit on Mount Agung
Image courtesy of Chris Nener, on flickr
This volcano towers a massive 3,031 metres above Bali and is home to the Pasar Agung Temple and the Mother Temple of Besaikh. The path to the summit is challenging, some would even say dangerous, but the reward is well worth the adventure to get there. Trekking to the summit for sunrise is a particularly popular activity but obviously carries with it the added risk of hiking this difficult terrain in complete/near darkness.
The trek to the summit generally begins from one of the two temples – the trek from Pasur Agung requires 4 to 5 hours to reach the summit, but the more difficult Mother Temple of Besaikh route takes 6 to 7 hours. Either way, the temples you pass on the way to the summit provide a spiritual element to the trek that will satisfy even those who aren’t particularly phased by the physical challenge.
There are times where the path will feel more like rock climbing than hiking and in some sections, you’ll be subjected to extremely difficult rocky traverses and even sheer drops. Once at the top, though, the whole of Bali lies before you as a reward.
It’s not recommended to attempt the Mount Batur trek without a guide. Many guided tour packages on offer, either from tour vendors in Bali’s tourist centres or, if you’d rather book ahead, from online travel agents like Viator Travel.
Swing over the jungle on the famous Bali Swing (Ubud)
Image courtesy of Jared Rice, on Unsplash
Harnessed into a simple swing, which is hung over a platform above a stunning valley and river, you’ll be pushed off like a little kid to swing gleefully over palm tree tops. Surely at least some small part of you remembers the joy of being pushed on a swing as a kid, so imagine you were being pushed into a beautiful valley and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Bali Swing is like.
There are a lot of copycat swings popping up all over Bali from what I hear, but my research suggests that the original is still the best. To me, at the very least, it looks like the safest option. You’ll pay for the privelege, though – you’ll get unlimited time on the swings for USD$30 (includes pickup from a set location in Ubud and lunch). If you don’t want to swing it’ll cost you USD$10 to come along and take photos. The Bali Swing can be booked either through your accommodation or via the tour companies in Ubud. Book in advance.
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Have you been to Bali? Did you spend your time adventuring rather than lazing by the pool? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.
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