Five day Bali overture
Too many to shortlist
The legendary Island of the Gods is approximately 153 km (95 miles) wide and spans about 112 km (69 miles) north to south; its land area is 5,632 km². Bali currently has four million inhabitants while it receives three million foreign tourists a year. Tourism is now the largest single industry in terms of income and Bali's economy has grown much faster than the rest of Indonesia but the vast majority of the visitors lodge on the largely urbanized southern tip of the island. However traditional Bali has a remarkably resilient culture which is still fully alive and as soon as one goes north from the capital of Denpasar one immediately finds incredible magic and beauty everywhere. The island is blessed with exuberant flora and fauna, exceptional beauty, underpinned by a culture that venerates nature The Balinese are master sculptors and painters; Balinese dance and music are equally famous and the Hindu ceremonies are a major attraction. The Island of the Gods is still a great choice for people who want their holiday to be an experience because it remains possible to wander around the rural countryside for weeks on end visiting different places every day without ever getting bored…. Bali offers a symphony of diverse impressions and this discreetly brief itinerary is just an overture. Needless to say it could also be a superb finale.
Day one: Arrival Denpasar (D)
Meeting service at Ngurah Rai International Airport and transfer to Hotel Tugu for two nights at Canggu Beach. <http://www.tuguhotels.com/bali/>. Hotel Tugu is a small boutique hotel of great class and charm that embodies the spirit of Indonesian hospitality like no other. It is home to a vast private collection of Indonesian art and antiques and equally famous for its cuisine. Canggu is known for a couple of surf breaks but the beach is pleasantly quiet. Dinner at the hotel.
Day two: the Lake district and Jatiluwih (B,L,D)
On this second day we first take you into the Lake District, a region of great natural beauty in the central highlands. Our first destination is Lake Beratan, the largest of the three three volcanic lakes in the heart of Bali, about 50 km north of Denpasar. We visit ‘Pura Ulun’, the temple on the western shore that is devoted to the goddess of the lake, Ida Batara Dewi Ulun Danu. It was built in 1633.
Our second highlight for the day is the Jatiluwih Valley which offers one of the most astonishing examples of terraced agriculture in the world. In Jatiluwih the landscape is a sculpture that was meticulously perfected over some five hundred years by many generations of farmers who collectively created an intricate infrastructure of dams, canals and aqueducts to irrigate their individual rice fields most efficiently. Last year Jatiluwih was added to the UNESCO's World Heritage List as a site of outstanding universal value to humanity and when we take you on a walk through the terraces the gentle song of water that continuously trickles down from one rice paddy into the next will not fail to mesmerize you. From Jatiluwih we drive to Wongaya Gede for lunch at Prana Dewi Mountain Resort.
After lunch we visit nearby Pura Luhur Batukaru, a temple complex originally created in the 12th century in the middle of the rain forest on the southern slope of Mount Batukaru, Bali's second-highest peak. Pura Batukaru is one of nine ‘cardinal’ temples meant to protect Bali from evil spirits, an extremely sacred site for the Hindu population. When we return to Canggu there is plenty of time to go for a memorable beach walk and hopefully a glorious sunset. Dinner at Tugu.
Day three: From the West to the East (B,L,D)
After breakfast we check out from Tugu and on this third day we move from the Western beach to the Eastern foothills. We follow a route of secondary roads and our first stop in the morning is the Bali Bird Park, a wonderful natural sanctuary with more than 2000 tropical plants and trees that provides a safe haven to almost 1000 birds of 250 different species. It is a caring home for birds and an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
The second highlight for the day is Ubud. Although over the past two decades the town has developed into a major tourist center where green rice terraces have given way to bookshops, cafes and boutique shops, Ubud and the surrounding villages remain the undisputed cultural heartland of Bali and the growth has not ruined the splendid natural setting. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and what makes Ubud so unique is the fact that over the years this spectacular natural beauty has been recorded in large collections of timeless art, such as can be found in the Agung Rai Museum of Art.
After visiting ARMA we have lunch at Sari Organik or Café des Artistes.
After lunch we drive eastward with the option to make a stop at the 9th century bathing temple Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), or the temple of the Bronze Age “Moon of Pejeng” the largest single-cast bronze kettle drum in the world.
By mid afternoon we reach the green valley of Sidemen on the slopes of Mount Agung, in the Karangasem Regency. We check you in for a two night stay at Surya Shanti, an intimate boutique complex of only ten private villas: http://www.suryashantivilla.com;. You still have enough time to explore the immediate surroundings and breathe in the atmosphere of one the most enchanting parts of rural Bali. This is where the legendary painter Walter Spies moved in order to seek peace and inspiration when he felt that Ubud was getting too crowded in the late nineteen thirties…Dinner at the hotel.
Day four: Aboriginal Bali and the royal splendor of Karangasem (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast we first go for a short drive but we have already discovered in the days before how nice it is to step out of the car and proceed on your own power. Without the hum of engine and air-conditioners we go on a wonderful hike to hear the birdsong and smell the scents of the real world. After an hour and a half you will find that our first destination was very special: the unique 700-year-old walled village of Tenganan. This is home to a community of Bali Aga people, descendants of the earliest aboriginal Balinese who settled on the island before all others. The women of the village weave a rare double ikat cloth, which is supposed to have magical powers to protect the wearer, and is greatly sought after for cremation ceremonies. The process is known only in this village and weaving a single cloth can take up to five years.
Then we drive to Amlapura, the capital of what is now the Regency and used to be the Kingdom of Karangasem. Five kilometers south of Amlapura near the fishing village of Ujung we first visit Taman Ujung, the Garden Residence of the Royal family as it was completed in 1921. The architecture of Taman Ujung is a mixture of Balinese, Dutch and Chinese influences. We have lunch at the Bali Asli Restaurant.
Then we proceed to the third highlight of the day, the Tirta Gangga Water Palace, on the main road five kilometers north of Amlapura. The architect of Taman Ujung, King Ketut Karangasem was already in his sixties when he decided to create this final masterpiece. He started the work on the one hectare complex in 1946 and it was finished just before he abdicated in 1950. Tirta Gangga, which literally means ‘water from the Ganges’ turned out to be the pinnacle of his career as a landscape architect and designer of water gardens. It is possible to go for a swim in one of two large swimming pools. You will find it is pure magic to be able to chill out in such an alluring atmosphere of bygone days! Dinner at Surya Shanti.
Day five: departure (B)
While having breakfast it is not impossible that you start wishing you could stay longer. Yet,
depending on your further program or your ongoing flight, we take you back at the appropriate
End of services.