One-A-Week # 4 A week of exploring Ubud’s waterfalls and other places

There can be no denying that south Bali as a whole will never leave a tourist feeling bored. From Nusa Dua to North Kuta, whether you like surfing and snorkelling, relaxing by a pool or going out for a night on the town, there’s something for everyone. But sometimes the simpler things in life are few and far apart. The relaxing chime of a waterfalls torrents echoing through the jungle. While staying in Denpasar I longed for these simpler things, which unfortunately couldn’t be found in the big hustle-bustle of south Bali. So I made the decision to head north for a week to delve into the jungle and mountainous terrain of north Bali, exploring different regions and looking for waterfalls, among many other things, along the way.
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The Tegenungan was the first waterfall we visited and, unfortunately, also the busiest. It seems that this waterfall is the one most taxi and tourism venues advertise to tourists – it’s in all their cars and plastered all over the tourism operators booths. We got there reasonably early, about 8:30am, and there were already over 30 people there and new cars filled with more visitors were arriving every couple of minutes. There was a parking cue stretching 200m up the road. Everyone was trying to get a spot in the waterfall. The whole fiasco made the experience a bit unpleasant.

However, the waterfall itself was spectacular. Huge volumes of water surged through a small crevice in the rock face some 30m above the ground. As the water came crashing down it created a refreshing plume of mist that covered the area. If it were not for the size of the waterfall and its mist effect, the area would be quite unappealing. It is littered everywhere and tourists could be visibly seen opening a package and leaving it on the ground. (It’s terrible the way some people treat areas when travelling). Despite the crowd we were able to squeeze through and get some pictures without anyone in the background.

A hidden walkway of stairs carved into the rock face can be found on the right side of the waterfall and for a small fee of 10,000 IDR you can use them to climb to the top of the waterfall. Up there some locals maintain the area, picking up all the rubbish and even picking up all the pebbles so it is easier to walk and stacking them in piles around the place. It gives the whole are a very spiritual feel and is a great place to relax for a bit as fewer people go there.

On the same day we visited several other locations, including the Tegallalang rice terrace and a Luwak coffee plantation that had a big swing hoisted between two palm trees. Knowing that we would have to get up early in the morning if we wanted to get to the next waterfall before the tourist rush, we decided to head back to our hotel for a quiet and early night.

 

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The next morning we were up before sunrise. We were heading to the Tibumana waterfall which is a one of the more secluded and lesser-known waterfalls of Bali. It took about 45 minute to drive there on a scooter as we had to pass through several busy villages. We got there just after the sun had cleared the horizon and it was giving the whole area a magical glow when the suns rays reflected of the leaves and water. The scooter took us most of the way, but to reach the waterfall we would have to walk the final few hundred meters. After descending some 200 stairs and walking along makeshift bridges we finally saw the waterfall and it was stunning.

Glistening white water. A surprisingly calm body of water at the base of the waterfall. Vibrant green shrubbery. The suns rays shining through. There was no rubbish and we were the only ones there. Compared to the last waterfall this one was perfect. There isn’t much more to say about this one, but it is the quintessential place to sit and relax and maybe go for a swim. It could easily be called a hidden gem of Bali because not many people know about it and many others aren’t willing to drive the distance to get there due to there being almost no hotels within the immediate vicinity.

We also ventured off the beaten trail and found a little rock pool further down stream. The river, fed by the waterfall, flows along several little streams over the top of rocks and meets back up again in a little pool before passing out the other side to once again form a single river. The pool is a light blue colour and big enough to sit several people in comfortably as you enjoy its natural spa-like feel and take in the rainforest scenery.

 

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We spent the next couple days exploring Ubud’s cultural attractions, such as local temples and many of the venues that offer handcrafted goods. On our final day in Ubud before we pushed further North for several more days, we decided to visit a waterfall that didn’t have a name. On the page we found out about it on, all it was referred to as was the ‘sweet waterfall location’. Located in the Kabupaten Gianyar region, this waterfall required a fair bit of exploring to reach and did not have any form of development, such as stairs or paved pathway – a testament to its uniqueness.

We found the river indicated on our map and then began to follow it upstream for several hundred meters until we came to a small clearing where the waterfall fell. It was only small in size, especially compared to the prior two mentioned, but it was just as impressive. And due to the journey required to get there and the fact that it wasn’t even on the map meant it was one of my favourite waterfalls that we visited during the week.

We didn’t manage to see any where near all the waterfalls in Ubud, but we saw enough to get our fix. It was great exploring the region and getting to witness many different aspects of Bali on the way to finding these waterfalls. One thing I learnt over the week was that after driving for a long time in the scorching Indonesian sun, a cooling waterfall, no matter how small, is just what you need.

 

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