This is Bali away from the crowds on a tour of discovery … the real Bali, in style in one jam-packed day!
Bali is one of those places with something to offer everyone. Luxury hotels, backpacker accommodation, surfing beaches, grand pools, shopping, sun, exotic food and very friendly people.
The Waka Group is quietly prominent in Bali. It has seven boutique hotels and an excellent range of tours Waka Tangga Hiking, Wakalouka Day and Starlight Dinner Catamaran Cruises and, for the last six years, Waka Land Cruising.
The Waka philosophy is based on a deep and enduring love for the natural environment of the Indonesian islands. The planet's four elements are very much part of daily life. Earth is represented by the stones in the gardens and buildings. Air is in the scent of flowers, spices, incense and grasses. Fire is in the spicy food and candles used to enhance ambience and water is in the garden ponds and pools. Natural fibres such as cotton, silk, linen and ramie are used and cultural traditions are an extremely important part of daily life.
Most visitors to Bali don’t get to see and experience the heart and soul of the island, and to do it in an air-conditioned Land Rover with an experienced local guide is an opportunity too good to miss. You will be taken to places which are natural and undeveloped and where people live as their predecessors have lived for centuries.
You will travel along grassy tracks through ancient green and gold rice terraces and rainforest and see gardens of the fragrant spices which attracted early European explorers.
There are hot mineral springs which have been used for bathing for centuries and then you will visit an old quarry where stone is still cut in the traditional way and used for building temples and shrines. Men chip the slate from as deep as 20m into the earth and it is made into five kilogram bricks which the women carry on their heads, three to five at a time!
You will drive to a traditional Balinese farmhouse or gubuk. Built from bamboo and rendered with mud and rice husk, these are an excellent example of Balinese architecture. It is a pleasant stop for tea, coffee and biscuits and the villagers enjoy visitors seeing their home, starting at the kitchen through to the tropical garden growing cocoa, coconut, banana, mango, rambutan, tea, coffee, vanilla and cloves. You will also see cows working in the fields, plus ducks, dogs and chickens wandering freely.
Then it’s time to travel further into the rainforest and climb 900m through irrigated areas and past rivers that flow to the sea. When you reach Wakalouka Camp, you will be above the rice bowl of Jatiluwih and the plains of Bali. Up here the air is cooler and rainforests have been replaced by bamboo jungles and thick ferns.
Here, halfway up the extinct volcano Batu Karu, you will come across a restaurant built by the Waka Group just for their clients. It is accessible only by 4WD. The bamboo building is on stilts and from there you can see into a deep ravine which has a river flowing through it.
The staff dress in beautiful traditional costume and food is cooked in large, clay ovens. The experience is one of elegance and you will be served classic dishes such as nasi goreng, mie goreng, satay, red rice, fern salad, fresh fruits, wine and locally grown coffee served with Cognac.
For a charming place to stay, the group's newest hotel is the Waka Padma, a quiet haven in the village of Penestanan in Ubud, an area famous for its painters, sculptors and their works.
Villas at Waka Padma have private walled courtyards and can comfortably accommodate two couples or two adults and two children. There are three romantic lanai rooms and a spacious two storey family villa with private terrace and garden. Each has air-conditioning.
The Lumbung-style architecture has the high pitched alang-alang roofs of traditional rice stores, there is a large and inviting pool plus a spa offering massages and beauty treatments.
The beautiful gardens are the perfect setting for a cocktail as you watch the sun setting over the rice fields.