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Bali & Lombok
The following sample itineraries from our latest Bali & Lombok guide will see you on some natural highs (both literally and figuratively) in two stunning destinations that rise far above your typical tropical island:
Leaving the Crowds Behind
The vast majority of visitors to Bali never get beyond the South Bali-Kuta conurbation - some don't even get up the hill to Ubud! On this trip, you'll definitely get up the hill; in fact you'll get up two, and then you'll work your way down to sea level through some back road villages and the national park.
Start with a climb of Gunung Batur, the 1717m peak in the volcanic caldera that still regularly erupts. The half-day treks up the hill are popular with hikers and the early morning views will give a panorama of things to come. The notorious local guiding agency should be viewed with a certain stoicism that's befitting of the sacred nature of the mountains. We suggest hiring a guide from one of the local agencies. From the volcanic sands atop Gunung Batur, you'll see the blue waters of Danau Batur and the nearby peaks of Gunung Abang and Gunung Agung. Escape the day-trippers' trails and explore other parts of the mountains, including those where you can see cones forming, promising future volcanic events. Next, tackle Gunung Agung, the spiritual centre of the island. Start early so you can reach the top and take in the views of Bali and other islands before the daily onslaught of clouds and mist.
Having climbed Bali's two most legendary peaks, head west to the little village of Munduk, which looks down to the north coast and the sea beyond. Go on one of the myriad of walks in the area and enjoy waterfalls, truly tiny villages, wild fruit trees and the sinuous bands of rice paddies lining the hills like ribbons. Finally, go all the way west and set yourself up for a trek in Taman Nasional Bali Barat, the national park. You can quickly escape the development that pervades so much of Bali and plunge into dense tropical forest. Just hearing the chorus of birds is worth the jaunt, but if you're really blessed, you may see the fabled and rare Bali starling.
Lombok: Undiscovered Paradise
Lombok's tourism ups and downs certainly haven't been due to its inherent charms, of which there are many. Get a whiff of the colonial past in the faded port town of Mataram, and sample the vibrancy of modern life in the thriving markets. Senggigi beach first attracted sun worshippers to its perfect swath of sand, in turn attracting resorts for the sun worshippers.
The eponymously named Gili Islands off the north coast are home to one of Asia's longest running travellers' scenes. Fun and frolic is fuelled by cheap beer that contrasts in colour with the turquoise waters. Well off the beaten path, the south coast near Lombok's Kuta has stunning beaches and surfing which will reward the intrepid. The little-driven back roads of the interior will thrill the adventurous and curious, with tiny villages where you can leave your regular life far behind and learn about the amazing local handicrafts. Many of these roads lead up the flanks of Gunung Rinjani, the volcanic peak which shelters the lush and remote Sembalun Valley. Trekking from one village to the next on the rim can take days, but is one of the great walks.
Other suggested itineraries in Bali & Lombok include: Total Bali; Tropical Fever; Finding Bali's Spiritual Centre; Surfing Safari; Underwater Action; and Spoil Me.
Treat yourself to an invigorating mandi lulur massage, breathtaking sunsets from cliff-top temples, an underwater world alive with vividly coloured fish, and the simplest island pleasures of golden sun and fresh seafood. Go on, you deserve it! Pamper, party, play and plunge into Bali’s rich and hospitable culture – our bestselling guide tells you how.
CONNECT WITH CULTURE – lively, authoritative Architecture and Culture chapters are your invitation into an exotic and inspiring new world
GET ACTIVE – dive, snorkel, surf or trek with insider tips for every outdoor activity under the sun (or sea!)
REST EASY – from castaway island huts to blissful boutique hotels, we show you the best places to lay your head
LOAD UP – on paintings, carvings, weaving, jewellery, sarongs, t-shirts and toys. Our shopping sections are full of tips and listings that will ensure you exceed your baggage limit
GO BEYOND BALI – detailed coverage of Lombok and the famed Gili islands