This is my favourite place in Bali, and maybe in the whole world.
It's called Sekumpul, which literally means "group" in Bahasa - since there's not one waterfall but many - a group. I came here twice, and will likely go again the next time I'm in Bali.
Most people visit Sekumpul from Lovina, a nearhy town. I didn't. I drove from Canggu to Sekumpul on my scooter. That might sound a bit crazy to anyone who's lived in Bali. It's a 2 or 3 hour ride (each way), going up a mountain and then down the other side. Also it's usually raining.
Well I just love driving too much. I love watching the scenery change around me. From flat lands and busy towns to high-altitude jungles and remote villages. I drive for hours without getting tired :)
The first time I came here, I was with a friend. We started from Canggu, filled up our tanks and drove north. Once we crossed the main road (Jalan Raya Denpasar) there was a single straight road to follow, all the way to the top of the mountain.
About an hour into the trip, it started drizzling. Near the top of the mountain, that turned into heavy rain and we were forced to make a pit stop at a warung. I had some amazing tempeh for less than $1. We also bought rain coats from a nearby stall.
After waiting for a while, we figured the rain wasn't stopping, and continued driving. It was already 12, and we had about 5 hours to get to Sekumpul, explore, and leave - so we could leave the mountain before dark.
The further we went, the bigger the vegetation got, and the more everything started looking like a prehistoric jungle.
Another hour and we had gone up the mountain, and were descending down on the other side. The roads were getting crazy steep and slippery from the rain.
We nearly missed the turn to Sekumpul. It was a narrow dirt road. We got on that road and thought we're almost at our destination - but ended up driving for another 40 minutes on the small twisting roads, so steep that I almost didn't use any power all the way down.
We were entering Jurrasic Park. Here are some photos of the views from that road.
Finally, villages started appearing. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of those villages, as it was raining and we were in a hurry.
Sekumpul is very remote, but it's still a known tourist attraction, and of course many locals make a living from that. Most of the entrances to the waterfalls are guarded by locals who charge a ridiculous amount for entry. Fortunately my friend knew one that was not.
We paid 20k - about $1.50 - for parking and entry fee, then left our bikes and walked down to the waterfalls. We had a pit stop for spicy cocoa at a small "restaurant" on the way, then started descending the stairs. It was still raining a bit.
When I saw the first - and tallest - waterfall, I knew the journey was worth it.
I spent the next few hours exploring the area, swimming in the pools and the river, and getting waterfall steam blown in my face! The force with which the water crashes down from 80 meters is amazing. I've never felt so energized, so close to the raw power of nature.
The cold river water felt awesome in the humid heat.
At the end of the trail there were three waterfalls, crashing down with immense force. Standing between all three of them was an incredible experience, I can't even describe it.
Hours passed by fast and soon it was time to leave this place. It was rainy and foggy during our entire time, but that just added to the mysterious vibe of the jungle. I was soaked and muddy, but happy :)
The way back was another adventure. The steep roads ate all our fuel, since we was going uphill now. We stopped at Bratan to refill, and I realized I was out of cash. I had just enough to pay for the fuel. I didn't have my card with me either. At least my friend was with me, so he could pay for me to refill if I needed.
The sun was gone now, and it was getting dark. And cold. I was soaked, and freezing. I only had a tshirt and shorts on. And we were still very far from Canggu.
Night fell and my friend started driving fast. I couldn't keep up, my scooter wasn't made for such a speed plus the roads were wet. I lost my friend.
At the same time my phone ran out of battery, so I had no GPS. Great. I got to Jalan Raya Denpasar, but then I was lost.
On top of all I was running out of fuel again. I knew Canggu was very close now, I just had to get to a familiar road. I stopped at a fast-food place and asked for directions, however they didn't speak a word of English... I kept repeating "Canggu" and "Pererenan", finally they pointed me to a road. I drove away.
My fuel was on empty and I was in the middle of nowhere, in the rain, surrounded by dark rice fields. This was getting serious. Would I have enough fuel to at least get to a familiar place, where I could get a taxi? The roads were twisting and I was taking random turns, I couldn't recognize anything.
And then... wait a minute... I was on a familiar street! I was entering Pererenan, my neighborhood. What a relief! I had been driving on empty for at least 20 minutes at that point.
In the end I had enough fuel to drive home, where I took a long hot shower and rested a bit, then got some fuel from a neighbor and drove to the 24 hour warung for dinner - I was starving.
A few weeks later I visited Sekumpul again. I had fallen in love with the place, and the first visit was in a hurry. I felt like I needed more of it.
This time, I left at 8am and managed to arrive before noon. I also had time to explore the villages a little. I left earlier and got home before sunset - I also made sure I had enough money and fuel :)