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Bali Road Trip: Volcanoes and Rice Terraces

Bali Road Trip: Volcanoes and Rice Terraces

It was another beautiful morning in Ubud, Bali. Today was sure to be one of the highlights of our trip: a visit to the famous Tegalalang rice terraces and a drive around the still-active volcanic peak of Mount Batur.

Breakfast was at the fabulous little French cafe, Le Moulin, just a few minutes’ walk from Kamandhani Guesthouse. One of our favorite things about Ubud is the amount of truly stellar food you can find. On one little stretch of road near our guesthouse, you pass Greek, French, Italian, Mexican, and Turkish restaurants, not to mention the local cuisine!

ubud bali

le moulin ubud
Buckwheat breakfast crepes at Le Moulin.
le moulin ubud
English breakfast at Le Moulin, Ubud.

Sufficiently stuffed and ready for the day’s adventure, we set off on the main road leading north out of Ubud. The sun was in and out of the clouds as we drove around half an hour to the tiny town of Tegalalang and their idyllic rice terraces.

ubud bali

ubud bali

ubud bali

ubud bali
Tegalalang rice terrace

We parked across the street and began winding our way down the steep hillside (lots of stairs!) towards the stunning rice terraces. Although technically free to tour, the locals have set up little “toll stations” with suggested donations (less than $1) for your visit.

We didn’t mind our first “toll” – these people do need to make a living, after all – but by the third “toll” we felt empowered to say no and continue on our way. Use your own judgment here, and do whatever your conscience moves you to do. It’s a minor annoyance in what’s otherwise a beautiful and awe-inspiring place.

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

As usual, we got so caught up in exploring and taking photos that we soon found ourselves off the beaten path…well off the beaten path! We started backtracking until we met a kindly old farmer who showed us a shorter (and more scenic) way back.

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

While I don’t recommend purposely getting lost, I must say it was nice to have the place to ourselves. While the rest of the tourists were jammed up on the main trail, we were the only souls in sight for close to an hour, save for a few hard-working locals.

tegalalang rice terraces

tegalalang rice terraces

bali

bali road trip

Eventually we found our way back to the main path, where we joined the rest of the tourists in completing the circuit (granted, our tour was probably a tad longer than theirs was).

bali

bali road trip

bali

bali

The Tegalalang rice terraces were stunning, but it was time to move on! We retrieved our car, consulted Google maps, and continued north towards the volcanic peak of Mount Batur.

This area is truly unique because the volcano is actually made of two calderas. The large inner caldera is now home to Lake Batur, while the majestic (and still active) stratovolcano peak rises over 2,000 feet (700m) from the water’s edge.

bali road trip

mount batur bali
Site of Batur’s most recent eruption in 1968.

The rain and clouds that had chased us from Ubud cleared long enough for us to enjoy some breath-taking views of the peak and lake. Eager for a closer look, we started down the long, winding road towards the lakeside. Along the way we discovered Batur Natural Hot Spring, perched right on the edge of the scenic lake.

volcano bali

batur hot springs

lake batur bali

We weren’t prepared for hot springs (and the weather was a bit too warm, anyway), but we took the opportunity to stop for lunch and enjoy the unique scenery. Then we studied the map to determine if we would return to Ubud the same way, or take the more scenic route around the backside of the volcano.

As you probably guessed, we opted for the scenic route.

mount batur
Still have no idea what this means…

mt batur

bali volcano

In an unexpected treat, we reached an area where the lava flow occurred during the most recent eruption in 1968. Not about to pass up the opportunity, we parked the car and hiked up to check out the dried lava.

mount batur lava flow

bali volcano

mount batur lava flow

mount batur lava flow

mount batur lava flow

It was like visiting another planet! The lava dries razor sharp and very uneven, so you definitely have to be careful as you traverse it. It was really incredible, though, to see plants pushing their way up and nature slowly restoring itself.

A steep switchback road led us up out of the caldera and back onto the road to Ubud. Dinner that night was at a funky little restaurant on Monkey Forest Road called De’Warung. We ordered a Balinese feast (literally) and washed it down with some amazing lemongrass mojitos (why has no one else thought of this?) as we watched the tourists go by.

ubud bali

ubud bali

ubud bali

Bali’s eastern beaches are lovely, but its central interior is TRULY spectacular. A visit to the Tegalalang rice terraces and Mount Batur are a must on any Bali road trip itinerary!

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out my blog on Ubud Horse Stables, too – definitely the best way to explore Bali’s lush interior.

Next up on our road trip…two of Bali’s most beautiful (and hidden!) beaches.

Horse Riding in Bali: Temples and Rice Terraces

Horse Riding in Bali: Temples and Rice Terraces

I don’t often wake up before my alarm. I’m not what you’d call a “morning person.” However, there are exceptions.

And one of those is when I’m about to go horse riding in Bali.

I awoke at 6am on the outskirts of Ubud at the charming Kamandhani Hostel. (A little gem of a place, tucked at the end of a very quiet street but only a few minutes’ walk from the liveliness of Ubud.)

ubud bali

ubud bali

A few cups of insanely delicious Balinese tea later, and I was ready to go when my driver arrived. We cruised north through Ubud and out into the endless green of Bali’s interior.

Where does one go for the best horse riding in Bali? I’d done my research ahead of time and decided on the 3-hour advanced ride at Ubud Horse Stables. This establishment has received stellar reviews, and rightfully so. No skinny, neglected Asian horses here. Their herd of imported Thoroughbreds and Appaloosas are beautifully cared for and professionally trained. The level of care, riding, and service are comparable to any reputable stables in the western world.

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

Upon my arrival, I met Duke, Raja, and Cola (the black, white, and chestnut horses, respectively). All were beautifully groomed and had lovely dispositions. After signing the appropriate forms and discussing my riding history, I was paired up with Cola for the day.

ubud horse riding bali

My only regret of the day is that it wasn’t sunnier. But hey, it could have been pouring rain, and that would’ve been worse! Despite the overcast and the stickiness of the morning, spirits were high as I set out with a French woman named Mathilde and our Balinese guide. We also had a photographer following us on his motorbike!

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

What’s horse riding in Bali like? It’s AWESOME. The trail wound through a local village and out into the rice terraces. All the greenery and water reminded me a lot of Florida, where I grew up and learned to ride. Once we were used to our horses and the landscape, it was time to open up and let manes fly.

horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

A word of warning to those dreaming of galloping through rice fields: When they say “advanced ride,” they MEAN it. We hauled butt down these trails and up several very steep hills. If you’re not extremely comfortable in the saddle at all speeds and terrains, better stick with the beginner or intermediate rides!

For me, it was heaven. Cola behaved wonderfully all day, whether we were blazing along or enjoying a stroll through the flooded fields.

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali

ubud horse riding bali
Riding selfies are hard!!

Our ride included a mid-morning stop at a local warung (restaurant) for breakfast and tea. After a few more gallops we stopped at an orange grove to rest the horses and enjoy some local produce.

horse riding ubud bali

horse riding ubud bali

bali children

My awesome day of horse riding in Bali was winding to a close. We gave our hard-working horses a nice long rein as we walked through the village back to the stables.

horse riding ubud bali

horse riding ubud bali

horse riding ubud bali

Having had the privilege to do a lot of cool rides around the world, I have to say that my experience at Ubud Horse Stables was one of the best! The staff was experienced, friendly, and spoke excellent English. Most importantly, the horses were well cared for and well-trained (always a concern in a foreign land). And we got to ride at all paces, which is always a bonus for advanced riders!

After bidding farewell to Cola, I returned to Ubud and enjoyed a much-needed massage at the fabulous Spa Bali Ubud. Then it was time to meet up with hubby for some happy hour cocktails at Mingle Cafe & Bar.

spa bali ubud massage

mingle ubud

My day of horse riding in Bali was awesome, but it was time to get back on the road. Stay tuned for our next adventure!