For years I’ve been looking from my village across to a range of mountains to the west promising myself to go hiking there. But it always seemed difficult to get to, difficult to find guides, difficult to find local info, so I put it in the too hard basket. My brother Andy booking a trip to Bali recently was the kick I needed to make it happen.
We did a two day trip and it turned out to be the best adventure filled with glamping, hiking, exploring, waterfalls, chill time and new connections in a sensational location.
I’ve had so many requests for info so I’m spilling all the details…
We arrived at the Pelaga Eco Park to find a small hut by the road with some staff loading timber into the back of a jeep. “Oops the jeep’s full we can’t drive you in! We can take you on motorbikes if you like.” Much to their amusement we said we were fine with walking! I had no idea what to expect as we headed down the steep path.
It was so much more than I hoped for. First impression… this is not a resort with accommodation jammed into every space. The tents and the restaurant take up a very small part of the land. Instead it is a landscape of forest, river, gardens, ponds and walking paths. It felt like a big outdoors playground. I was instantly deliriously happy.
The tents. There are two groups of tents. Five ‘standard’ bell tents by the river, ten bigger various versions of ‘deluxe’ tents on the hill with views over the river and the forest.
The tents were as you would expect when signing up for glamping – white tents, nice timber floor, bed and mats, (deluxe gets you floor cushions, table and chairs). It was ‘glam’ without being over the top.
We were upgraded to the deluxe tents as they were doing some work down by the river on the day we arrived. Whilst the deluxe tents were bigger and had more bathrooms I would have been very happy in a standard tent perched over the river.
Its in the hills, surrounded by forest, at a similar elevation to my village so it’s much cooler than Ubud or the beach areas. The deluxe tents have mesh screens so you can choose to let in more airflow. I checked the standard tents after a few hours of sun and they were not overly hot. All tents have a small fan.
Bathrooms. There’s a couple of super deluxe tents that have their own private bathroom, every other tent has a variety of shared bathroom options.
Deluxe tents have their own set of shared bathrooms that are more spacious and separated for male and female.
Be prepared for refreshing cold showers, all part of the glamping experience. But if that’s a bit much for you, head to the hot showers built in under the restaurant.
Food. The restaurant was much bigger and more modern than I expected. It’s a beautiful space overlooking the river, the tents and the vegetable and flower gardens. Yes, there is WiFi. (only in the restaurant)
The menu is quite western influenced. Burgers, noodles, as well as the usual rice dishes. Plenty of vegetarian options, but just don’t expect Ubud style healthier than thou detox food. Every dish we ate was superbly presented. Coffee machine. No bar, but icy cold Bintang beers are available.
What to do.
1. Take an easy 10 min walk on a private path to a beautiful waterfall. Please respect local customs. This is a ‘tempat suci’ (holy place) so please…. no skimpy swimwear. Its offensive.
We also walked up the public path on the other side of the waterfall. It takes you through farms, so you can see vanilla, coffee and cacao growing. It finishes near another village. You have to return the same way to get back to the glamping.
2. Do a picnic. Order lunch in the restaurant and the staff will bring it down to the river.
3. Play in the river. It’s shallow, fast running, easy to walk through. After our hikes I sat on a rock in the sun and let the water pummel my tired leg muscles. My kind of therapy.
4. Chill. Read. Hang out in your tent, take in the views, get into the stripped back simplicity.
5. Hike. Scroll down for the details on our hikes.
Vibe. The staff are super lovely, incredibly helpful and very relaxed. I had long chats with Andy one of the staff, who seemed to be wherever we needed him. He shared with me the philosophy of the owners and how it felt like family to work there. The place is clean and feels well cared for. There’s no formality, we laughed with the staff and enjoyed their family style. It’s also pet friendly. They have a dog and a cat.
If you‘re looking for exclusivity and total privacy, this is not the glamping for you. Nobody can walk in front of your tent, so you have that privacy, but the whole place is a shared space. But there’s loads of space. It brings back memories of Sharing Bali for me.
I really recommend you treat this as a short escape and only bring a small bag with enough for a couple of days. Keep it simple, you are camping after all. Big luggage will fill up the tent space.
I’m guessing you’re more likely to be amongst Indonesian guests rather than international travellers. Affordable glamping is a new model that’s popping up around Bali, aimed at the local market.
After talking to the staff it seems it gets busier on the weekends with day-trippers. The tents can be rented daily with a picnic package. We were there on a Mon-Tues so it was very quiet.
Avoid Saturday nights if you don’t like karaoke. Judging by the size of the speakers in the restaurant I think it could get pretty loud. (Apparently karaoke is now a thing in Bali!)
If you’re worried about security (I didn’t) you can store your passport and valuables in the office. Pretty hard to lock up a tent. (Staff are always around and they do have a security guy at night).
Embrace what I call the ‘non-villa’ nature of the place. The river replaces the pool, there’s no shops nearby, there’s no need to go anywhere on a tour and unless you’re on WiFi the only distractions come from nature. You get so much more than a room.
Aside from the glamping, climbing Mt Catur was a big reason to explore this part of Bali.
I’d organised a guide before I arrived but working out the start and finish points was confusing as there are two routes and finding transport for a 5am start seemed impossible. This is not an area filled with tour guides and drivers and the glamping staff thought we were a little crazy doing such a hard hike, so they didn’t have any experience to help us. Eventually, after much negotiation they found a driver willing to take us to Bedugul at 5am.
There are two routes to get to the top of Mt Catur. I’ll call one the ‘adventurous trail’ and the other the ‘easy trail’.
The Adventurous Trail.
We met our guide Dinn by the side of the road in Bedugul at 5.30am and set off at a cracking pace passing by vegetable farms before we got to the narrow trail through dense forest. It was beautiful walking through the dark with glints of light shining through as the sun started to rise. Dinn was a fabulous guide who just loves this forest. He stopped all the time to explain the various trees and plants pointing out the edible ones and the ones used for healing treatments.
It got steep quite quickly, I was so glad we brought walking sticks. At times I had to use both hands to pull myself up steep sections as my short legs weren’t cutting it, a couple of times I needed a hand up. There were a few ropes in place mainly to help up with really steep sections where there was nothing to hold on to. One section of rope was in place to keep you away from a slightly precarious edge. It was at the exact point you get a wonderful view all the way across to Mt Ijen in Java, so you need to stay alert if you’re taking photos!
It takes around three hours to get to the top and the last hour is the steepest. We took plenty of rest stops to rehydrate and to enjoy where we were. There’s a temple (Pura Pucak Mangu) at the top which we didn’t enter as we weren’t dressed appropriately. There’s a small platform to take a rest on. The views are 360, but not like the summit of Mt Batur which has clear views. Mt Catur views are obscured a little at times by forest. I could wave to the sunrise trekkers on Mt Batur, and see Mt Agung in the background. The other views are over the lakes and across to Java. Well worth the climb.
I loved every step of this climb. It was challenging at times, so I needed my ‘every footstep counts’ mode, but we also had fun along the way. No crowds. Aside from one local person who came up on the easy trail to go to the temple, we were the only ones on the mountain.
The climb back down on the same trail would have been an equally adventurous three hours. As I was recently recovered from Long Covid, and had already pushed myself to the max on the climb up, we opted for the ‘easy trail’ to get down the mountain. It was a good decision as we got to see both sides of the mountain and I got to take it easy!
What you need:
- Long pants are best to protect your legs, you’re hiking through dense forest.
- Long sleeve layer you can peel off. It’s cool and damp to start.
- Sportshoes. Back pack.
- Headtorch. Water bottle. Sunscreen
- Your guide will bring fruit, snacks and extra water.
- Curiousity. Leave the expectations at home. It’s not a race.
*I’ve suggested to Dinn he provides walking sticks. They are essential. Check when you book.
**You do need to be confident in your fitness to be safe and to enjoy this hike.
The Easy Trail.
It’s more like a path than a trail with lots of stone steps slightly overgrown by the forest. It’s used for getting to the temple for ceremonies so it’s a clear wide path. You can’t get lost. It’s a couple of hours up and is a good effort. Around one and a half hours to get back down.
It’s a beautiful walk and you get to the same temple at the top of the mountain as the adventurous trail.
You don’t really need a guide, however going with one is always a safer option should any emergency arise. The start point is about 12kms from the glamping park, so you’ll need transport there and back. Because we chose at the last minute to take this trail down we hadn’t organised transport and ended up walking 5kms on the road in the sun back to Pelaga town (not so much fun!) then getting an motorbike ride back to the glamping park. There’s virtually no traffic and definitely no drivers passing by looking for a job in this neighbourhood.
What you need:
- Shorts, t-shirt and sportshoes. Sunscreen. Backpack.
- Water. Fruit or a snack at the top would be nice to have but not essential.
- Walking stick would make it easier and safer but not essential
*Conditions were damp underfoot on our climb. I would avoid the mountain after heavy rain as Dinn told us the water just gushes down making it slippery and dangerous.
- Mount Catur is also known as Pucak Mangu.
- 2096 meters. The highest point along the rim of the Bedugul caldera.
- Fourth-highest mountain in Bali.
- No tourist facilities.
- Andy tracked our hike from Bedugul to the peak on the ‘adventurous trail’ and back down the ‘easy trail’ to the town of Pelaga. I’m impressed with our climb!
Hike guide: Dinn. WApp: +62 852-7290-5602 (contact name is Belatok)
Transport: Wayan Sugiarta WApp +62 878-6050-0355
How to book glamping at Pelaga Eco Park
Via WApp. +62 812-3848-4468
They are very responsive. Click on the catalogue to see all the tent options and prices. (range from $AUD45-70 per night including breakfast for 2.)
No website. FB Page here with a link to their WApp.
How to get there
Link to the map here. I‘ve added Ubud as a reference point.
We travelled there in a restored VW. It was a blast.
Sentanu is a good driver, loves his car and is a good person to be around. It was small roads through open spaces and small villages most of the way for us. I could definitely get addicted to this mode of transport.
Contact Sentanu via website or WApp +62 812-6165-1156
- Bedugul/adventurous hike up/easy hike down/Glamping
Stay overnight in Bedugul. Lots of things to do – famous for the botanical gardens, kayaking on the lakes and a very beautiful temple. The Strawberry Hill Lodge is close to the hike start point. Haven’t stayed there so I can‘t give a review.
Ask Dinn to organise a driver to pick up your bags from your Bedugul hotel and meet you at the end of the easy hike to take you to the glamping park.
- Glamping/Bedugul/adventurous hike up and back/Glamping
If you prefer to have the glamping park as your base, book driver to depart 5am to arrive at Bedugul hike start point by 5.30am. Ask the driver to pick up at same place around 12.30pm to return you to the glamping park.
- Glamping/easier hike up and back
Organise driver to take you to the trail start. (15min drive) I would arrive before 9am to avoid the heat. Pick up 4 hours later to return to glamping.
*I don’t get any payment or compensation for my blogs. My intent is to simply share the good experiences and the good people I meet through my Bali life.