The Gem of North Bali

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The gem of north Bali: Sekumpul Waterfalls

If you are ever in Bali I urge you to leave behind the tourist crowds of Kuta and Ubud and travel to the north side of the island.  Here you will find an abundance of raw natural beauty.  From cloud shrouded mountains, to lakes, to quiet beaches, to sunsets with sleeping volcanic giants looming in the distance.  A prime example of this natural splendor is Sekumpul Waterfall.  Far less crowded then other waterfalls in Bali, Sekumpul is a series of 7 waterfalls dotted throughout a mountain valley.  The view from the top is astounding, and the following hike feels otherworldly.  This is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been to and is a must-see for any nature enthusiast.
Getting to the falls is very straightforward.  You could hire a taxi to take you there; but if you are coming from Ubud or the south, it could get expensive.  The easiest/cheapest way to get there would be to stay in Lovina Beach or Singaraja and rent a scooter.  The drive takes about an hour from Lovina and only 30minutes from Singaraja.  From Singaraja follow JL. Surapti up the coast until you reach Jl. Raya Desa.  Follow that road for about half an hour and you will see a huge sign for Sekumpul Waterfall on your right, you can’t miss it.
entrance to sekumpul
When you get to the beginning of the trail, you will inevitably be approached by a local about taking a guide along with you on your trek. I chose not to hire a guide; but in retrospect, I wish I had.  You don’t need a guide to navigate the trail: the first 40% is lined with vendors and warungs, and the path is clearly marked after that.  However, in talking to some of the guides after my hike, I found them to be so friendly and possess a wealth of knowledge about the area and the cultural significance of the waterfalls.  They also know all the spots and angles to get the best photos; so while groups with guides were getting epic, Instagram worthy shots, I walked away with only a few measly selfies.  It only costs 100,000IDR (about $8USD) to hire a guide so I highly recommend hiring a local to teach you a little about the waterfalls, help keep your things dry, and snap some majestic photos of you along the way.
In total, the hike took me about 4 hours; but I stopped to take pictures, bask in the splendor, and swim in a pool downriver from the waterfall.  If you are short on time and just want to see the falls; the hike could be done in two.
The first part of the trail takes you down a long, windy road where you will pass lots of little shops where you can stock up on, water, snacks, etc. until you come to the entrance gate where you must pay a 15,000IDR free to continue.  From there it’s about a 5minute walk until you are greeted with the best view of the falls and one of the most majestic views in all of Bali. 
From this high point, you have an unobstructed view of the 3 main falls and can see two other large falls cascading in the distance.  Definitely stop to take some pictures here.  At this point you begin your descent into the valley via approximately 300 steep stone steps.  The steps can be very slippery; especially when wet, so take it slow and utilize the handrail.  At the end of the stairs you cross a bridge before coming to a fork in the trail.  The left takes you up to the main set of waterfalls and the right takes you further into the valley to the second large set of falls.  I chose to go left first and then double back to see the second group of falls.  To get up close and personal you have to wade a small, knee deep river before arriving at the base of the falls.  

The sheer volume of water flowing from the falls is hard to comprehend.  Water thunders down from over 300 feet at its highest point spewing a cloud of spray for hundreds of feet beyond the base.  My entire front was soaked in a matter of seconds.  I only stayed just long enough to take a couple of pictures on my phone because I was getting drenched and didn’t have a handy guide to shield my valuables with an umbrella.

After wading back across the river, I put on my shoes and began down the trail to the second group of waterfalls.  The hike only takes about 15 minutes and is one of the most beautiful walks I have ever been on.  As you criss-cross a small river you are surrounded by flowers, dragonflies and lush greenery.  Everywhere you look there are small streams of water rolling off the cliffs above.  It is a truly magical place and felt very Avatar-esque.

river at base of sekumpul falls bali

Upon arrival, you must again wade a river to get to the base of the falls.  This time I chose to strip down to nothing but my swimsuit and GoPro so I could spend more time basking in the majesty and awesome power of the falls.  A word of caution:  the base is rocky and very, very slippery.  So tread carefully. At that point, I wasn’t quite ready to head back to I walked a little bit down the trail and found a nice pool to swim in.  The water was cool and refreshing; the perfect respite from the stifling jungle heat.

sekumpul waterfall hike
From there comes the arduous journey back.  The hike down is pretty easy; but the hike up kills.  You now have to climb back up those 300-odd stairs you went down at the beginning of the hike, so definitely save some water for the end of your journey.  The path (both up and down) can be slippery at times, and though the locals may hike in flip-flops, wearing shoes with good traction is highly recommended.
I cannot say enough times how beautiful this valley of waterfalls is.  If you are in North Bali, Sekumpul is an absolute can’t-miss.
sekumpul waterfall gem of bali

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