We spent two and a half weeks travelling around Lombok, Bali and the Gili islands from December 2016-January 2017. It’s such a huge country, but even if you stick to a couple of islands you can find every type of landscape you’re looking for. One day you can be relaxing on a serene beach, the next you can be climbing a mountain or wandering through rice terraces. We celebrated Christmas on the pristine beaches of Gili Trawangan and New Year’s Eve in the cultural centre of Ubud, Bali. It was definitely a holiday season to remember. Here are our highlights.
Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls, Senaru, Lombok
Before we arrived in Lombok I had my heart set on visiting these waterfalls, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. They are located in Senaru in northern Lombok. The setting is beautifully lush and green and well maintained. Tiu Kelep is the best one, it is much taller and more impressive than Sendang Gile. There is quite a large area under the waterfall where you can swim. Calling all nature lovers, go here if you get a chance.
Read more: Guide to Lombok
Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali
As soon as you enter this place you are surrounded by monkeys and it is absolutely incredible. We spent around 2 hours here, walking through the huge area of beautiful forest and making lots of monkey friends. I couldn’t believe just how tame they are, they happily sit on your lap and are pretty friendly in general. Just be careful, and if they get a bit angry, just stay calm and gently get them off you. They are cheeky little creatures, so if you have any open pockets/bags they will try to steal from you and if you don’t want one on you, don’t sit down!
Climbing Mount Batur, Bali
Mount Batur is an active volcano which stands at 1,717m. A very popular thing to do while staying in Ubud is a sunrise trek to the top of this volcano. This involves getting up at 1.30am, which is tough but don’t let that put you off it. The climb up took around 2 hours, gradually getting steeper and more difficult towards the end. The climb was totally worth it as we watched the clouds disappear, the sun come up and we gazed in awe at the incredible sunrise view. I definitely recommend doing this, it’s a really rewarding experience, just be prepared to have a nap when you get back to Ubud!
Read more:Balinese Mountaintop Sunrise.
Kecak fire dance, Ubud, Bali
Bali is unique among Indonesian islands in that its primary religion is Hinduism. This makes it an interesting cultural combination, with the native folk traditions having fused with the Hinduism from India. A good way to experience this unique culture is to see a fire dance. It’s a play, based on the “Ramayana”, an ancient Hindu epic poem , involving pyrotechnics. A core part of the play is the monkey army, who sit in a circle around the fire chanting “chak” over and over in a hypnotic rhythm. While it’s very hard to follow any sort of plot, the traditional costumes, dancing, music and fire combine to make a very entertaining cultural experience.
Snorkelling, Gili Meno
I’d never been snorkelling before so I jumped at the chance to have my first experience of it in the crystal clear waters of Gili Meno. There are lots of boats at the beach which you can hire for snorkelling trips at a reasonable price. Our boat driver took us to a few different locations including a shipwreck and the Meno wall where there are lots of green sea turtles. We saw a turtle swimming along, it was so surreal, and we also saw hundreds of colourful fish. It was such an amazing experience and I am looking forward to doing a lot more of it on our future travels.
Have you been to Indonesia? What was your highlight? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
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