Bali is known for its Instagram-worthy waterfalls and they have way too many to choose from! I narrowed down to a few in Northern Bali: Banyumala Waterfall, Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfall, Sekumpul Waterfall. It was just not possible to visit all 3 because from Ubud to Northern Bali took around 2 hours each way. I asked Putu, if he has to choose 1 which will it be? He said definitely Sekumpul Waterfall! He said he had visited all the waterfalls and that is the most beautiful one, okay, we trusted his judgement 🙂
He did pointed out that Sekumpul Waterfall is one of the few that requires a local guide (local meaning people who actually live in that village which I think is a great idea to support their own locals) and estimated around 200k per person. We got there at around 9 AM, there is a small ticket counter to choose a package; they have other water activities as well. We just want to visit the waterfalls which include a one-way motorbike ride. To save energy, I asked if we can pay extra for two-pay transportation and the staff said yes add 20k more (so worth it). The total was 250k per person cash only!!! There was no ATM machine nearby but luckily, I just had enough cash to pay! There’s a tiny snack stand there as well in case you want to buy protein bars, snacks, and drinks, you’ll need them on the walk up…
Each of us got in a motorcycle driven by a local to take us down to the entrance of the staircase. I haven’t ride on a motorcycle for a such a long time, here we go!
It was a long ride, the 20k extra was so worth it….not only it saved energy but also time! Then the two of the locals who drove us down were our guides and they guided us down a dirt path to this long and narrow stairs….oh gosh I was hoping this will not be the way back up!
On the way down, there is a shack with a toilet (I can’t comment on the condition as I did not want to check it out) where they made a brief stop in case we need to use the toilet and they got us a fresh off the tree papaya as snack hahaha. The papaya was not ripe enough though. The guide did say that there’s a changing room down there, I didn’t realize “down” was that toilet. 20 minutes or so, we arrived at the waterfalls! Surprisingly, we were the only ones there :O We crossed path with a couple but they were making their way up so they were there way earlier than us.
The guides offered to help us take photos and videos with our phones and we were so lucky to have them; they were really professional taking cellphone photos and videos just like the guy we had at the Bali swings yesterday! And they know all the Instagram-worthy spots and angles! That alone was well worth the fee 😀
While the rest of our group were busy taking turns on getting their photos, I had Jason cover me with the beach towel in a spot further away to change into my swimsuit 😉 It was my turn and the guide helped me to get up to this rocky and slippery spot….that was the guide and he was awesome!
Photos from him using my phone; he sure knows how to frame:
This photo was taken by me with my Canon DSLR, you can see the difference in the details, sharpness, and colors.
Phone photo of Jason:
While I stayed on the bottom of the rock to capture this with my camera:
Phone camera can’t replace the DSLR camera (at least for now) even though they claimed their camera is xx megapixel and xx zoom, you can tell the difference especially when zooming in, the details were just not there! For phone viewing and Facebook/Instagram sharing, phone photos are sufficient but if you want to print a poster size then it’s not.
However, one advantage of phone over DSLR is that when you get really close to the waterfalls, phones now a days are water resistant unless you spent thousands of dollars on a waterproof case for your DSLR! We went to the back of that rock to get to this spot and it was wet and cold from the mist! The waterfalls are beautiful and we got our sweet photo together 😀
Tips: bring water shoes or flip flops, you’ll need to walk on shallow water with rocks on the bottom to get to those photo spots!
After those two waterfalls, we walked to another group of waterfalls nearby….less than 10 minutes walk.
There it is…we thought it was that only one waterfall…
It turned out to be more than one and we were not the only ones there too. Probably 10 or so excluding our group but we took turns and there were different spots/angles so we were not in each other’s way.
The guide did a portrait blur too, he was amazing!
A different spot/angle, I couldn’t get up to that tree trunk, it was so slippery that I couldn’t stay put!
On the other side of those waterfalls, this is the one we saw from far distance:
I didn’t track how long we stayed to take all those photos among the 7 of us, it was time to head back. Bad news, those stairs were the only way to get back up ahhhh! It was definitely challenging, us girls were dying LOL. It got hotter so I can’t imagine how much harder it’ll be if climbing those stairs in the afternoon! I definitely recommend to do this first thing in the morning!!! We all loved Sekumpul and the local guides were amazing, we couldn’t thank them enough!!!
By the time we got up and took the motorcycle back to the parking lot to meet with Putu, it was noon! For lunch, Putu recommended Warung Kopi Bukit Hexon as it’s near our next stop Wanagiri Hidden Hills. It was disappointing: cheap quality food! The price reflected that, it was only 908k for the 7 of us. I should have just stick to the ones I found in Google Maps with good reviews.
Their bathroom was acceptable, don’t expect anything fancy….I was able to change in there. Next stop: Wanagiri Hidden Hills. OMG this place is totally different from what I had in mind when looking at photos. I was expecting a swing nested inside a forest overlooking the lake down beneath. Oh boy, this is where Instagram versus reality hits! This “hidden hill” is literally right on the big road where someone built a swing, nest, and boat shaped sitting area out on those platforms! There is a counter where you have to pay an admission to get your photos taken in one or more of those structures. It was so artificial. There’s no “hidden” feeling, it’s right on the road, I am not kidding! I was so disappointed that I turned away and left, no thanks!!!
Onto the next stop: Handara Golf & Resort Gates. Okay, here’s the change….they built a payment booth at the parking lot to charge 50k per person (they do take credit cards). 5 out of 7 wanted to go and the rest stayed and enjoy the AC in the car. We went of course, I made the payment and got a number for the queue. One ticket number for the group so you have no idea how many people are ahead of you, I asked the lady, she said around 30 minutes of wait. That wasn’t too bad of a wait….but out in the open sun was burning hot; there were some trees for shades.
This photo spot used to be free and not “gated”. Thanks to Instagram, the owner made so much more money charging admission than running the resort, lucky for him! And there were a lady and a guy taking the opportunity to make money by taking cell phone photos of tourists. I wonder if the owner takes a cut of their earnings or not. They “asked” for 10k tips per person…and the guy wasn’t that good of a phone photographer, his photos were crooked. After I straighten the phone photo:
He copied the reflection technique created by placing a mirror under the phone’s camera lens. Once again so crooked that after I straighten it, it has the top cut-off:
A photo from my camera taken by one of our friends, we showed him how to frame it so he can just position the camera and click the shutter button:
The last stop of the day: Ulun Danu Bratan Temple as we had to head back to Ubud for our dinner reservation at 6:30 PM. This temple complex cost 600k for the 7 of us with added credit card fee. The admission included a small bottle of water which I thought it was a good idea so people can keep hydrated in this hot and humid weather! There were lots of tourists in the afternoon when we were there. I felt it was commercialized.
The postcard photo of the temple on the water:
As I said it was a template complex, it has lots of those smaller gates/doors/buildings:
They even have traditional Indonesian costumes to rent….cost from 250k which includes photo at that gate on the back. Nope, I didn’t do it.
This spot was pretty with the red flowers.
Photos made this temple to look like it is floating on water but it is not!
More of the template complex, you can spend hours here to take photos if you like…..
There are a few ATM machines right at the parking lot so I took the opportunity to refill my cash! On the way back to Ubud, Putu took us to a famous roasted pork restaurant to try the famous dish out. They sell roasted pork’s crispy skin and all different parts of the roasted pig!
We ordered two combos, it was really interesting on the mix. I did take a bite to try it out to see how it tasted compared to the Cantonese style. Texture were similar but I preferred the Cantonese taste, more flavorful and not as salty.
We went back to our villa, dropped off our stuff, my friend Sokunna arrived to stay with us for 2 nights, and we all went out to dinner, we took Grab to Nusantara by Locavore. This is the sister restaurant to the famous Locavore restaurant that had ranked among the top 50 in Asia, highest ranking in Indonesia so I was looking forward to this meal. We got the set 10 course menu for 450k per person (it was the most expensive meal we had in Bali); it’s only available for the whole table. Since Jeffrey and Laili can’t take spicy food, they asked if there are dishes that are not spicy. The waitress said she can request the kitchen to make the spicy sauce on the side so they agreed.
The first course was this platter looking dish, not sure how many dishes this count as. The waitress gave us a card with the number and description and pointed out which ones are not spicy.
The ones she said not spicy were spicy for Jeffrey and Laili urgggg…..they did voiced out their concern and asked if they can be on a separate menu to select non spicy dishes. Initially she said no and they were about to move to another table in order to order from the a la carte menu. After back and forth, the waitress finally said the chef will make different dishes for them, I guess they underestimated their zero tolerance on spiciness.
I tried out each of those, I don’t get the leaves looking one, it is just plain leaves, no sauce, no cooking LOL.
I apologized first if I mixed up the dishes since it was so many, and they did not serve in order of the menu. I think this is the eggplant, the taste was definitely not something I had before.
The marinated pork ribs were flavorful, not as salty as Hujan Locale. However, their portions were on the small side to share.
The braised duck was good.
Grilled king prawns was okay at least they didn’t overcook it.
Steamed green mussels was okay, I am not a fan of this kind of mussels.
The flavored rice counted as a dish and I was too busy eating that I forgot to take a photo of my favorite dish which was the soup in a young coconut directly cooked on an open wood fire! We saw that when we walked into the restaurant and I was looking forward to that. The soup was so delicious; the coconut taste and spicy, it was very unique!
Lastly, the dessert was the green jelly and coconut milk infused with pandan. I actually like this, it was refreshing!
The 10-course meal was like fine dining, not filling, some courses you like some you don’t. Overall, I liked Nusantara by Locavore more than Hujan Locale, it’s not as salty and the spiciness that I actually enjoyed. We had a great day today, Sekumpul Waterfall definitely was the highlight, its beauty, the peacefulness, the natural environment unlike other heavily man-made attractions in Bali. We all totally recommend Sekumpul Waterfall and their local guides made it extra special!!!