Imagine yourself watching the morning fog rise over Bali rice fields. The paddies have just been flooded. The hill at your feet looks like a series of jagged glass mirrors, reflecting clouds passing above. Among the rice terraces, two Balinese women manage to walk on a very narrow dirt trail. Right behind you, you can hear birds chirping among the chocolate trees. Your private tour guide gives a pisang, a small local banana, to taste. Your husband takes you by the hand, while you breathe in the fresh mountain air. What a change from the noisy, crowded streets of Kuta, in Southern Bali! Welcome the spectacular Antap – Antosari – Belimbing road, in the Tabanan province, in Central / Western Bali. Come along my romantic Bali rice fields tour, dear blog readers and villa guests.
Not the many tourists come to this area of Bali, but more and more do so. The itinerary that I am creating for you here is based on my experience having a villa in Antap (Villa Bulung Daya), at the southern tip of this road. This romantic drive / hike starts on the black sand beach near the villa, then goes up to Antasori and finishes in Belimbing, on the slopes of Mount Batukaru, the volcano standing in the background of this short trip.
When you are in Bali, you notice that it is often faster to drive straight up from the beach to the mountain, along river gorges. But it can be quite time-consuming to drive along the coast, because there are not that many bridges crossing the multitudes of water streams flowing down from the mountains. You do not have many choices among the roads to take, and the same goes for every other drivers. Hence the crazy situation where you are in the middle of a spectacular, jungle-like, empty countryside, stuck in slow moving traffic, stuck right between two enormous trucks heading back to Java.
Here, we’ll take a very good road that is less travelled, by both foreign tourists and Indonesian trucks, gently following upstream a river
Antap and Soka, where Bali rice terraces melting into the sea
A view on rice fields gently going down the slope. The waves of the sea crashing at the foot of the the cliff. The tip of the property leading gently to the beach. This is why my partner Bruno and I had chosen to build a villa on this plot called Bulung Daya (“Seaweed Place”), about 1 kilometer away from the village of Antap. Right between rice terraces and a black sand beach. Far from the crowds of Kuta. But closer to this utopia called “Real Bali”, which I do not believe really exist, as everything is real to me, from traffic jams in Seminyak to peaceful walks on the empty beach down my house in Antap.
There are two ways to star this trip: either from our house in Bulung Daya or from the Soka Indah restaurant, located on the other side of the river. The road from Soka Indah to Antasori also offers beautiful views on rice paddies, with Mount Batukaru in the backgound. But the drive on this road is a bit crazy, as this is the main West-East road connecting ferries from Java to the Balinese capital-city of Denpasar. Great views, heavy traffic.
On our side of the river, no such traffic, as the road from the ville deadends in our property. The fields around the house are still a bit hilly. They carry rice terraces that have offer beautifl views on the sea below. It is a great hike to walk up from the black sand beach to the rice fields. There are a lot of small and big trails among the fields. On the lower part, right between rice paddies and the shore, you can often see cows grazing under coco nut trees. Walk past them but do not get too close to their kids.
You will notice among the rice paddies a lot of very small temples, really just a stone column with a king of smaller house on top of it. Balinese farmers place offerings daily there, to make sure that the gods provide them a good Bali rice harvest season.
Antasori, where Bali rice terraces meet cocoa trees
Antasori is really 2 things to me. First, it is a crossroad between two worlds: the heavy traffic from the Gilimanuk – Denpasar road, that trucks use day and night to deliver vital goods to the busy Southern side of Bali, and the tranquil road leading up to the mountain, among Bali rice fields and chocolate trees.
Antasori is also where the rice terraces start to cling to ever steeper hills, with equatorial forest on the top and rivers flowing way down at the bottom of the valley.
Whether you are coming west from Indah Soka or east from Antap, you end up at this very same crossroad. Leave the crowds there and drive North, in the directions of the mountain. After 5 minutes, you are already in a quieter place.
As you drive from Antasoti to Belimbing, make sure to look to your left and to your right. At first, you are driving on a crest, with rice fiels slopping down on both sides of the road. As you drive up the road, you can notice that the air is getting cooler and fresher. Especially in the hot season, it is a great respite from the tropical heat that you can suffer from at sea level. You may have to bring long-sleeved t-shirt, in order to feel a bit warmer and also to protect you from the sun.
Along the road, you may notice that more and more trees are popping up. Some are really jungle trees, others are actually chocolate trees. You can stop by the side of the road to have a look.
Did you know that Indonesia was the 3rd biggest cocoa producer, after Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana?
With high humidity, heavy rainfall, high temperatures (but not scorching), the slopes of Mount Batukaru are great for cocoa tree cultivation. But do not expect rows after rows of cacao trees: even though the Dutch tried to establish big plantations, the Balinese were quite reluctant to do so. Individual Bali farmers chose to grow a few cocoa trees, here and there on their small plots, between coffee beans and rice fields. Nowadays, cocoa trees are almost wild, which explains why a lot of the cocoa beans are considered organic, as they have been unaltered.
If you are interested in organic Bali chocolate, go and visit the astonishing bamboo architecture of the Big Tree Farms Bali chocolate factory, located about 1-hour drive away from here.
The other kinds of plantations while driving on this road to Belimbing are:
– coffee beans plantation: yes, they grow coffee beans for your java on Bali.
– vanilla beans plantation: I am always amazed by the big size and low price of Balinese vanilla, compared with I see in Europe. But they are not as widely cultivated as coffee, as they do not fetch a high price enough for farmers.
– clove plantation: Indonesians smoke a lot and they really like their unique clove cigarettes. More than 45,000 clove farmers work in Bali.
– bananas: around the side of rice paddies, you can often spot banana trees sporting cute, sweet bananas called “pisang” in Indonesian
Belimbing, your own UNESCO-grade Bali rice fields
As you can see from the video below, walking in the rice paddies of Belimbing is very pleasant. Yes, you can see the rice terrases really well from the high road and from the restaurants nestled on top of the hills, but bali rice paddy trekking lets you experience Belimbing better. And the road can get noisy, when all you want is to walk hand in hand in this beautiful landscapre.
At your feet, you can see a mix of rice terraces and jungle, with on one side the sloped of a volcano, Mount Batukaru, and on other other side, far away in the distance, the sea where we started this little trip.
Antap / Antosari / Belimbing: rice fields, moutain Batukaru, other cultivations (coffee, chocolate, clover), bats and French people with hiking boots
romantic: view, atsmosphere, fewer tourists, real Bali,
Less know, except of … French people (Fram / hikers)
Bats (bat cave in Soka)
Belimbing – Jatiluwih – Hote spring
Located on the slope of Mr. Batukaru
+ Mekori Temple + Belimbing Waterfall
Bali rice terraces,
Bali rice fields
Bali rice fields UNESCO
Bali rice terraces
Bali rice paddies
Bali rice fields tour
Bali rice harvest season
Bali rice farming
Bali rice growing – subak
Bali rice fields paintings, photos, villas, restaurant
bali rice paddy trekking
Bali rice cultivation
Jatiluwih: 1 hour away ; Rice Terraces of Tegalalang in Ubud : 1h20
Belimbing: 25 minutes away