Certain places were intended to be explored by foot — and if you ask us, Bali fits the bill. A trek across the Island of the Gods would bring one through exotic rainforests, across terraced rice paddies, and up and over majestic volcanoes. And we get it — if you’d prefer to spend your time sprawled on the island’s white-sand beaches, we totally understand. But if, instead, you’re looking to indulge your adventurous spirit, here are some of the most exciting hiking areas in Bali.
Grab your trekking poles — it’s time to take to the trails.
One of the more easily accessed hikes on the island, the Campuhan Ridge Walk is a must for anyone spending time in the popular mountain town of Ubud. From the main entrance of the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa, follow the sign that says “Going To The Hill.” The narrow, concrete path will guide you out of the bustling village and immediately uphill to a more serene mountain ridge. From there, you can follow the track as it snakes above and around stunning river gorges and lush rainforests. As with most hikes on the sweltering island, it’s best to tackle this in the early morning or later in the evening, not only to avoid sweating through your trekking clothes, but also to beat the crowds who will arrive in flocks to snap a golden-hour Instagram shot. Perfect for a pre-sunrise jog, the trail stretches just over a mile before arriving at the Karsa Cafe, where you can grab a quick bite and a coffee before heading back to take on the rest of the day.
West Bali National Park
Covering the northwest corner of the island, West Bali National Park accounts for roughly 10 percent of Bali’s landmass. Within, you can trek through rainforest, dry savannah, dense mangrove, and high-mountain forest, and you might just happen upon some of the fascinating animals that call this gorgeous region home. These include macaques, wild pigs, muntjac (barking deer), and the endangered Bali starling — so, bring your camera and a patient eye. All hikers within the park are required to obtain a permit and hire a guide (total cost will be roughly 400,000 IDR, or $29 USD), so start off by heading to the park’s headquarters at Cecik. Among the ample trails to choose from are the Tegal Bunder Trail, an easy two-hour jaunt that offers plenty of bird-watching opportunities, and the Teluk Brumbun Trail which winds through a scenic savannah. Those looking for a challenge should try the Gunung Klatakan Trail, a strenuous eight-hour journey through a lively rainforest, while more laid-back hikers might consider chartering a boat to Menjangan Island and checking out Pura Gili Kencana temple. The island is surrounded by pristine waters perfect for snorkeling and diving, so if you need to cool off after your walk, you’ll be in the perfect spot.
Any trek on Bali will leave your soul enriched and your camera roll full, but if there’s one bucket-list hike that needs to be on any adventurer’s itinerary, it’s Mount Batur. One of four volcanoes on the island, this beauty stands at 5,633 feet (1,717 meters) and is part of the Batur UNESCO Global Geopark. The best way to ascend Batur is for the sunrise, which means you’ll need to hit the trail around 4 in the morning — so, when that dreaded alarm goes off, just keep in mind that the heavenly sun-kissed views of Lake Batur from the summit will wash away any leftover grogginess. You’ll want to hire a trekking company to guide you through the early-morning darkness, which will cost roughly 700,000 IDR ($50), though for not too much extra, you can tack on a trip to the nearby hot springs to relax after your workout. If you ask us, this is a time to treat yourself.
Bali often brings to mind the tranquil images of rice terraces, sloping down a hillside in varying shades of green. Thus, any explorer’s trip to the island wouldn’t be complete without a journey through such an iconic landscape. The most scenic place to do so would be in Candidasa. This gorgeous area is defined by its undulating fields bordered by thick rainforests, and it offers a several-hour hike that passes through it all. Along the way, you’ll walk by farmers plowing behind water buffalo, and some might even offer you drinks and refreshments as a respite from the island’s heat. You can also consider the more strenuous (but still worthwhile) trek to the nearby Lempuyang Temple, one of the island’s oldest worship sites, which is located on the peak of namesake Mount Lempuyang. Just be sure to pack lots of water to help you up the path.
Located on a plateau in north-central Bali, Lake Tamblingan offers one of the few cool-weather hikes on the island — so be sure to pack layers. Tamblingan sits adjacent to its “twin,” Lake Buyan, and the two are encircled by forested hills and fresh jungle air. The twin lakes and the surrounding lands make for a veritable natural playground, with hidden temples to discover and gentle waters waiting to be paddled through via dugout canoe. If you book through Bali Jungle Trekking, you can hire guides for one of three different excursions, ranging from 265,000 IDR ($19 USD) to 625,000 IDR ($45). And, as this is all located just an hour and a half from Ubud, it makes for a perfect getaway from the touristy bustle of the mountain town.
A hiker’s paradise, the village of Munduk near Bedugul should be a multi-day stop for anyone looking to get some serious miles in during their time on the island. Situated in the island’s central highlands, this small village is crisscrossed by 12 different hiking trails, from short and easy forest walks like the Subak Trek (2-3 hours) and the Red Coral Waterfall Trek (2 hours) to half-day journeys that will make your legs burn like the Mendaum Riverside Trek (3-4 hours) and the Dutch Colonial Trek (4-6 hours). The region is marked by dense rainforest, Hindu temples, and striking waterfall views, and while many of the easier treks are well-marked and easy to follow, you might want to hire a guide for some of the longer ones — especially if you want to spice up the trip with background info and local knowledge about the area you’re walking through. Most local hotels will assist you in finding a guide, and you can expect to spend about 300,000 IDR ($25 USD).
Bali’s highest mountain (towering at 9,944 feet, or 3,031 meters) is also its most sacred. The Balinese believe it to be a replica of Mount Meru, the five-peaked mountain of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain cosmology that is considered to be the central axis of the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual universe. Even the largest and holiest temple on the island, Pura Besakih, sits high on the volcano’s slopes. Fittingly, then, Mount Agung is also one of Bali’s most difficult hikes, requiring five to seven hours of tricky climbing to reach the summit. And, to make it more interesting, it’s most popular for sunrise hikes — so if you thought you had to get up early for Mount Batur, you might consider setting a second (or third, or fourth) alarm for this start time. But of course, it’s worth it, as ascending above the clouds toward the upper reaches of the slopes will have you feeling like you’re walking on another planet. Guides for the Agung trek are more expensive for this reason — 1,250,000 IDR ($90 USD) — but they’re needed, as you won’t be able to navigate the slippery trail in the dark on your own. Once you’re at the top, be sure to enjoy the feeling of standing atop the Island of the Gods!
Note: because of its holy location, Mount Agung is closed to hikers on religious holidays.
Looking for more ways to beef up your Bali itinerary? Check out our 7 Must-Have Bali Experiences here!