Bali is world famous for its liquids: both the golden nectar of the gods that is Bintang and the salty surf that fringes its reefs. But it’s a lesser known fact that the island also delivers in the freshwater department, namely with regards to waterfalls. From gushing beauties a quick(ish) hop from the carpark to those that require several hours of scooting and bush bashing, there’s an air tergun to whet every appetite.
The crowd pleaser: Tegenungan Waterfall
If you’re indulging in a spot of downward dog in Ubud, you can’t miss the spectacular Air Tergun Tegenungan. Just 25 minutes’ drive away, an enormous waterfall cascades down mossy cliffs in a valley boasting some serious Jurassic Park vibes – minus the imminent threat of being devoured by a T-rex. The descent is fairly ghastly, but the coolness of a dip at the bottom makes it all worthwhile. If you want to miss the crowds, go early: Tegenungan tends to be packed from around 10, though the sheer delight that radiates from everyone getting pounded by the falling water is infectious, and only serves to add to the joy. After a big rain, the waterfall can be a tad brown, but the valley itself is always pristine owing to its status as a tourist attraction. On that note, expect to stroll through roughly 100 market stalls selling snacks, sarongs and blow-up unicorns on your way in, but you’ll be stoked they’re there on the way back up, as an es krim will prove a welcome reward after all those stairs.
The jungle trek: Sekumpul Waterfall
Picturesque Sekumpul is a Mecca for waterfall snobs, particularly those who turn up their nose up at Tegenungan’s crowds. Thanks to how bloody difficult it is to get to, most of the time you’ll find yourselves the only ones there – well, you and the odd monkey. Getting to the village it’s located in up in north Bali is an adventure in itself, involving a dirt road, steps so slippery you’ll be wishing you packed ice skates, the crossing of a river and very dense jungle. Even the road signs can be a bit misleading. If you’re worried you’re going to struggle, you can pay a local in town to guide you down – which, considering you end up getting rewarded with six waterfalls (Sekumpul means group), one of them 80m high, brings you pretty good bang for buck. Be aware that in wet season, landslides can make Sekumpul fairly inaccessible, so you’re much more likely to get through if you come on a scooter rather than in a car.
The you-may-die: Aling-Aling Waterfall
Aling-Aling is the crowning gem in a chain of seven waterfalls about 11 kilometres from Singaraja. Its 35 metres of froth is split into two streams that fall at different speeds, and if you’re feeling brave, the best way to view them is up close and personal by jumping off the ledge at their peak. Yep – Aling-Aling is the ideal destination for those who like to live life on the edge. Toss all you’ve learned about public health and safety aside and ride the natural rockslide upside-down, or perhaps taking a leap of faith from a 35-metre rock ledge is more your style. Do note that you can’t actually enter the water at all unless you pay a guide at least 150,000IDR to escort you, but not only are you putting money straight into the hands of the locals: the guides know the lumps and bumps of the waterways like the back of their hands. And when you’re jumping what’s almost the height of an Olympic swimming pool, you’re going to want a guarantee that it’s safe to do so.
The turn-it-into-a-roadtrip: Munduk and Gobleg Waterfalls
This divine jungle spot has the added bonus of being located in the village of Munduk, where you can munch on dadar gulung for breakfast at a cheap guesthouse while feasting your eyeballs on the mind-boggling mountain and ocean view. Munduk waterfall is a 10-minute downhill stroll from the carpark, and falls 20 metres into a shallow pool. For the accompanying stream to be worthy of a swim, there needs to have been lots of rain, but even in dry season it makes a stunning photo op – and a lot of backspray. The falls are part of a larger circuit that will take you to Gobleg village and its waterfall, located in a steep ravine. Along the way, you’ll find a number of quaint stalls selling spices and steaming cups of kopi. From Gobleg waterfall, if you don’t feel like taking the loop, there’s a blocked off but still very walkable trail across the creek that will see you walk back to the road in the centre of Munduk, where it’s easy to hitch an ojek back to the carpark for 30,000IDR. Alternatively, those with lungs of steel can walk, but the gradient is at times vertical and stretches four kilometres.
The beautifully scented: Blahmantung Waterfall
If your morning cup of joe hasn’t got woke enough, why not try bathing in an icy waterfall nestled amidst a bunch of coffee plantations? Pristine Air Tergun Blahmantung, also known as Pujungan or Pupuan waterfall, falls a full 100m and takes about two hours to get to from south Bali. After a paradisiacal scoot through rice paddies and coffee farms, you’ll traverse along 800 metres of rocks from the carpark, all the while breathing (well, wheezing – it’s a challenging climb) in the most fragrant of air. On your way out of the region, be sure to grab a feed from one of the warungs in Pujungan village – the coffee they serve is fresh from the surrounding local plantations.