With active volcanoes, dense tropical jungles, pristine beaches and ancient cultures, Bali offers beautiful scenery and the warm hospitality of its residents. Unfortunately, due to terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005, there have been travel warnings issued by the U.S. government, so be sure to check the current status before booking your trip. However, the island just east of Java, Indonesia, is a usually peaceful destination and welcomes visitors. Offering a wide variety of activities, outdoor enthusiasts will have difficulty deciding what to do first in Bali. Whether you explore on your own or travel with an experienced guide, you are sure to have a vacation of a lifetime.
Climb Gunung Agung
According to the local mythology of the Balinese, the spirits of their ancestors live in Gunung Agung and the site has become the spiritual center of Bali. Because the peak is sacred to the residents, there are several religious festivals held throughout the year and climbing is forbidden during those times. Access is almost impossible from the Besakih side of the mountain during March and April due to the ceremonies. The best time to climb is from April through mid-October, during the dry season. It is easy to get lost in the dense foliage of the lower slopes, so always travel with a guide and follow one of the established trails. It will take at least three hours and feature an ascent of approximately 6,560 feet when you start your climb from Pura Pasar Agung. That trail ends approximately 330 feet below the summit but you will have panoramic views of Gunung Rinjani, the south of Bali and Gunung Batukau as well as have views into the crater. The more challenging trail departs from Pura Pengubengan, the most distant of the Besakih temples, and travels to the summit. The five to seven hour hike starts in the forest but the trail quickly becomes very steep and eventually you will need your hands and feet to climb up bare rock. Take some time to rest and enjoy the 360-degree views from the top because the descent is equally difficult. Be very careful as you navigate down from the peak and allow at least five hours for the return trip.
Go White Water Rafting
Whether a novice or skilled in rafting, adults and children alike will be able to find a white water tour suitable for them. Several companies offer white water rafting tours down the Ayung River, an exciting ride that switches between Class I and II rapids and winds through valleys featuring scenic waterfalls and majestic cliffs. During the calm stretches of the journey you will travel through tropical forests, passing colorful Hindu shrines and remote villages. For a more challenging adventure, experience the continuous spray of water as you raft the Telaga Waja. Starting at the foothills of the sacred Mount Agung, this rafting trip takes you swiftly past steep banks and hanging trees as well as through natural spring water waterfalls. Navigate through torrents, twists and inclined rapids before you conquer the final surprise of going over a dam to complete your journey. Remember to bring sunscreen as well as a change of clothes and shoes. Most rafting tours are approximately 3.5 hours, including 30 minutes for preparation, two hours on the water and an hour to shower, change and enjoy lunch that is provided by the tour company.
Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
Although Menjangan may be one of the most popular diving destinations in Bali, the East Coast, near Sanur and Padang Bai, offers some of the best diving sites in the country. Several tour companies specialize in diving tours and many offer both day and night dives. The Blue Lagoon features colorful shallow reefs with huge coral blooms populated by reef sharks, wrasses, stonefish, morays, sting rays and octopus. Experienced divers will enjoy the complex reef systems of Amuk Bay or the great walls and canyons of Gili Tepekong, but all levels of divers or snorkelers can easily navigate through the scenic sea fans in Gili Mimpang.
Article Written By Betsy Bender
Betsy Bender is a media consultant with experience in publishing, event management, media relations, digital media and television production. Specializing in entertainment, travel and sports, Bender has worked with high-profile personalities, facilitated publicity campaigns for network television programs and traveled to more than 100 cities in eight countries, including Russia and Australia.