This post was last updated on July 2nd, 2020 at 05:01 pm
In recent years, Bali has become one of the most touristy destinations in Southeast Asia. But what if you visit this versatile island, and just need a place to be one with nature and want to avoid the crowds?
Good news, because Bali also has options to travel off the beaten track. Kanciana Village near Belimbing in the Tabanan region is one of them. Time seems to have stood still and nature is insanely beautiful. It’s one of those places that you visit for a few days, and feel like you have been away for weeks.
Besides walking through picturesque surroundings, we also stayed in a very unique accommodation. We slept in the open air and woke up to the sound of a flowing river, birds, and insects that you only hear in the jungle.
All in all, Kanciana Village is one of our favorite places in Bali, and in this article, we will tell you more about it.
We must say that writing about this region makes us feel a bit uneasy. How secret does a place remain after it is published? It’s a downside to blogging as far as we’re concerned. The other side of the coin is that such destinations make a blog extra cool. We do not expect real changes in Kanciana Village in the coming years, because the land is in the hands of the locals and it is quite a task to get there.
A Search For a Hidden Place in Bali
We had just visited the paradise of Nusa Lembongan and were sure of one thing: we would stay in Ubud for 2 nights and then travel on to another destination. That destination was unknown, although we wanted to do something original. A hidden place in Bali, surrounded by greenery and without crowds. After the many scooters and trucks on Nusa Lembongan, but especially in Ubud, we simply needed peace. We wanted to visit beautiful nature like rice fields and greenery without tourists 🙂.
So we started looking for secluded accommodations in the north of Bali. After all, we knew from previous trips around the island that it is super green and relatively quiet there. So we had a great time in the town of Munduk.
Our eyes fell on Tabanan, although we soon discovered that this is not only a place but also a huge region. A region where you will find the famous Jatiluwih rice fields and the Tanah Lot temple, for example. If you search for “Tabanan” on Agoda or Booking.com, you will get an overview of all accommodations in the region. A guest house can easily be located 40 kilometers from the Jatiluwih rice fields, which in Bali means 1.5 hours of traveling. Therefore, if you want to visit certain places of interest, we recommend that you carefully check the location of the accommodation that you have in mind.
Anyway, after scrolling a bit we saw something special on our screen: Clove Tree Hill.
A little research taught us that this accommodation was located in Kanciana Village, a difficult village to get to as the last few kilometers go on a downhill road. However, a remote location like that means peace and few tourists, right? Indeed, and we, therefore, decided to go on an adventure.
A Terrifying Ride – Even For the Taxi Drivers
Our first idea was to go there via a 1.5-hour scooter ride (according to Google Maps). We weren’t too excited about that idea, however, especially because we had heard and read that the last 7 to 10 kilometers was quite the hurdle.
So we chose a local taxi that we arranged through our guesthouse.
The next day at half-past 11 we were picked up and left the busy center of Ubud behind. Our driver clearly had no idea where to go as he asked us to turn on the navigation on our phone a few times. And the moment we arrived in Tabanan City, he apparently thought he was already at his destination. His somewhat startling reaction when we indicated that we still had 25 kilometers to go, was certainly telling. Keeping in mind what sort of disastrous journey would most likely follow, we began to wonder if this was going to work out.
Surprisingly, the road turned out to be above average by local standards, and we started to believe that it might not be so bad after all. Until we turned right instead of following the bend and ended up on a road where exactly one car fits. If you drive into someone, it will be quite difficult. The asphalt, on the other hand, was of unchanged quality.
But these fairly acceptable conditions changed quite quickly after that. Large pits and cracks were interspersed with chunks of stone and the car was shaking to the max. The driver seemed quite shocked by what he got on his plate here, he seemed to have never experienced anything like it before.
When we had to go up a new slope full of stones and mud, according to the map the last hurdle to take to get to the resort, we quietly felt sorry for him. We didn’t expect it to be such a challenge so we said ‘sorry’ multiple times with a smile of disbelief on our faces. He smiled back with his eyes focused on the path ahead.
We suggested halting the memorable expedition so that the man could return to Ubud. He laughed but reacted negatively to the helping hand we stretched out to him. A culture thing, or was the gentleman a bit angry? Perhaps he expected more money due to the difficulty of the journey? We’ll never know. At least he waved when we walked away.
What stood out when we started the short walk was the silence. No traffic, no people. Only nature. Exactly what we were looking for.
Arriving at a Unique Accommodation Between Rice Terraces
The Clove Tree Hill sign told us to turn left and a deep descent followed. From the valley, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the rice terraces, a great boost after the tiring ride we just put behind us.
We started the afternoon – it was now noon – with a delicious lunch and at the same time looked out over the stunning landscape. We had a somewhat surreal feeling because such an oasis of peace was completely opposite to where we were 2 hours ago. The only life we saw was the parading ducks and some roosters trudging from top to bottom.
Several wooden houses have been built on the complex that perfectly matches the surrounding nature. Not an ugly modern hotel or resort, fortunately, the environment has been taken into account. One reason for this is that the Australian owner works together with two locals from the adjacent Kanciana Village. They have given tips to guarantee authenticity as much as possible.
In the picturesque garden, a walking path has been laid out that leads to an infinity pool and various houses. While walking you will pass tropical plants and fruit trees with mangosteen, durian, and passion fruit. When we started the mini walk, a yellow butterfly preceded us. As if he wanted to show us the way.
Our bungalow was amazing and from the veranda we looked out over the vast green landscape, consisting of a jungle, palm trees, and rice terraces. We also saw the sea in the distance. And the most surprising? You can drink tap water from the local Batukaru mountain. Where else can you drink fresh tap water in Bali or in anywhere Indonesia?
We each chose a bed, and it seemed cool to sleep outside on the veranda on the existing bench. Fall asleep to the sound of crickets and running water, and wake up to birds chirping around us. We moved the mattress from the inside out and looked forward to the night to come.
A Renewed Rhythm
In Bali, it gets dark around half-past seven, after which nightlife starts in many places. This is completely different in Kanciana Village. After dinner, it is completely dark and you go back to your bungalow in peace. Our nights usually started around half-past eight and then we slowly dozed off. We “camped” on the porch.
The first morning we woke up at half-past six and we were full of (positive) energy. We carefully lifted the bamboo roller shutter a bit to feel the first rays of the sun and at the same time enjoy the view of the ‘garden’. The silence on this early morning was also nice to experience.
Then it was time for a well-deserved breakfast, where the smoothie bowl appealed to us the most. And this turned out to be a good choice. The wooden bowl was packed full of watermelon, dragon fruit, granola, and refreshing ice cream made from all kinds of fruit.
Besides, it is not without reason that people who live in pure nature go to bed when it gets dark and get up during the sunrise. And we have to say: this feels much better than diving into our bed around half-past eleven and starting the morning later. So don’t play with your phone for hours to make the evening longer. Read a book and that’s it.
Could you also maintain such a rhythm if you are staying in the city, where it starts to live at night? Probably more difficult, although it remains your own choice. Maybe a place in nature is just what we needed at the time.
Hiking Through Nature
When you walk out of Clove Tree Hill on either side, you can take some fun nature walks. They range from one to several hours. One of these walks mainly goes along the many beautiful rice fields and terraces, while another takes you through a more jungle-like environment with fruit trees and the adorable Gempinis Coffee Shop. We definitely recommend drinking a cup of coffee here while looking out over the vast green fields.
On the first day, we walked the so-called “red route”, although it turned out after a while that we had missed a turn. We had not studied the map in the room prior to departure. We should have probably studied the route a bit more, however, the adventure only got bigger because of it 😉.
Once we got reasonably out of the way, we took confidence in the ever-handy navigation app Maps.me. However, any hidden paths that would take us back to the resort were missing. In the meantime, we had been walking around with a bunch of papayas, donated by a local, for a few hours. These fruits are quite large and we estimate weighed about 2 kilos. We thought it was a shame to throw them away, so we took them with us.
Speaking of fruit, the surroundings were bursting with various kinds. Mangosteen, durian, papaya, coconuts, jackfruit, cocoa; we’ve passed pretty much all tropical variants.
The longing for water had grown quite big for us. We were soaked with sweat, we even tasted the salt on our lips. However, we had not brought a bottle, as we expected to be away from home for a few hours. So it’s a matter of persevering.
During the journey that followed, lean but peaceful looking cows crossed our path. And furthermore, thirty dogs, who were completely the opposite of the Zen cows due to the wild barking.
Over time, we wondered aloud how we could get back. In any case, the navigation did not work from any angle. It always indicated to walk back the long road we traveled, although that has never been a serious consideration. The hike had now lasted long enough and we also felt somehow that things had to be done differently.
However, when several jungle residents didn’t seem to know the name “Clove Tree Hill” at all, we kinda lost faith. How was this possible, after all, it was one of the only resorts in this area. But shortly thereafter, a little miracle happened: there turned out to be an immensely sharp hairpin bend with a trail of just under 3 kilometers, which according to the map should run right to the resort. Jungle, jungle, and more jungle followed.
At one point we were only 400 meters away, but it turned out that we were on the wrong side of the non-crossable river. We were also standing on a mountain slope in the middle of a forest full of mosquitoes. Some working locals said something we didn’t want to hear: we had to turn around because we couldn’t continue here. There was no other option than to climb the steep road back up to the top and hope for a possible path that we had missed.
Thankfully the gods of luck smiled down upon us as we ran into four kids who miraculously responded in agreement when we talked about Clove Tree Hill. They then led us to the “secret” road, which we ourselves apparently had overlooked. The journey became slightly more exciting because phone batteries were getting low and several paths were available a lot further on. So we really needed the navigation to work.
We asked a passer-by whether he knew anything about a resort in the area (in poor Indonesian), and afterward, it turned out that he had given us exactly the advice you don’t hope for in such a situation. It became clear later on, that he pointed to a sloping street that completely led into the wilderness.
In the end, we got a golden tip from an older man, and after walking for a total of 5 hours we arrived exhausted but satisfied. The tour had everything it should have: stunning nature, surprising events, good conversations, and a bit of suffering. Finally, we could rest again, and what better way to start it than with an ice-cold mango smoothie?
Downstairs, at the foot of the complex, lies the Tibu Sampi Waterfall where you can cool off. It has something magical as chances are you will be alone. We had this impressive place all to ourselves and saw an inexhaustible amount of water pouring down at a rapid pace.
Upstairs, right next to the path that leads to the waterfall, lies the Tibu Sampi Warung for a bite to eat overlooking the river and the jungle.
By the way, this is the only warung you will find in the area.
Simple Times, Happy Times?
A day later, on our next hike, we walked through untouched nature and were greeted cheerfully by some locals. They lived in a simple house with dogs, roosters, and their three children. Surrounded by greenery, with no sign of human life in the distance.
As we moved on, we talked about burnouts, the stress in the West, and how happy people look in this simple existence. It seems that when you make life as simple as possible you are most happy. So without all kinds of external stimuli, such as social media, smartphones, and so on. And if we’re honest we experienced this during our short time in Tabanan.
The more you go back to basics, the easier everything becomes. We experienced the same when camping in the mountains of Bajawa.
Back to Civilization
For example, he talked about seeing the world in different colors. Everyone has a different color and is connected in a certain way. Instead of disapproving or judging something or someone, you learn to look at the world in a much friendlier way. He also talked about karma and that if you do something bad, you will pay for it later in one way or another, for example in another life. He further said that according to the Hindus life is predestined; God determines what will happen to you at all times.
Upon arrival in Ubud, it took some getting used to coming back to a world full of people, scooters, cars, and all kinds of food shops. It felt like we had taken a few weeks off. But aren’t those the places that will always stay with you?
Do You Also Want to Experience This Adventure?
If you like unspoiled areas and want to experience something completely different besides the typical Balinese places, then we definitely recommend a visit to Kanciana Village and the Clove Tree Hill located there. From Ubud, you can arrange a driver for 400,000 IDR (~ US$28) to 450,000 IDR (~ US$31.60) and you will be on the road for 1.5 hours. This can also be arranged for 500,000 IDR (~ US$35) through the resort, they can also organize the return trip.
Bali Eco Stay is also nearby where you can follow yoga retreats.