In the heart of Bali, nestled between forest-covered mountains and verdant rice fields, lies the remote village of Munduk. This is the perfect place for an off-road Bali buggy adventure that was our most thrilling day out on the island.
Our home for this week was the wonderful, family-run Aditya Homestay, where we were warmly welcomed by the staff. They went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and happy during our stay, which we kept extending. Two of the walls in our room were floor to ceiling windows overlooking the valleys and vibrant sunsets every night. Every day, we would sit on our terrace, enjoying the delicious breakfast and simply taking it all in.
But we didn’t just want to sit around – we were keen to get stuck in and explore this gorgeous green landscape. We’d been told about two waterfalls in the area, so we grabbed some makeshift bamboo walking sticks from the forest floor and made our way through the trees, along narrow muddy paths, without any signs to point the way, only our very basic map. At times we weren’t even sure we were on the right path. At other times, we purposely chose a path because it trailed off in an interesting looking direction. Heading off the beaten track and getting a bit lost in the deep wilderness can be part of the fun; then there’s the satisfaction of navigating your way back to familiar territory.
We spent three glorious days searching out these waterfalls and exploring the rice fields that we could see from our hotel terrace. The weather was warm and sunny, but at one point we got stuck in a downpour of rain. Truly, I have never seen such a heavy storm: the sky a gunmetal grey and the raindrops pounding the ground like an attack. Fortunately we were able to dive for cover in a bamboo hut in the grounds of a nearby house and enjoy the rest as we waited for it to relent.
Our final day in Munduk was a real treat. We’d read great reviews about a unique Bali buggy adventure company called Munduk Wilderness. Set up last year by a local entrepreneur, they invite guests to explore deep within the area’s otherwise inaccessible rough terrain by mountain bike and an unusual Indonesian-built off-road vehicle called a Fin Komodo. We were up for the challenge!
Munduk Wilderness’s base camp is a contemporary, stylish bar and restaurant set high in the hills. Below us, staff were working to maintain the Fin Komodo vehicles, while we admired the view, tasted some refreshing lemongrass tea and were given a briefing by our fantastic guide Komang.
Our quest was the Dragon’s Breath Expedition, a Bali buggy adventure weaving through the region’s clove, cocoa, and coffee plantations, taking in the island’s only Buddhist monastery and finishing with a dip in the local hot springs. Komang and his team made great efforts to ensure our safety, kitting us out with helmets, pads and protective masks.
A short drive in the Fin Komodo buggy was followed by a mountain bike ride along some very bumpy roads. We rode at speed down some steep inclines and at points I felt like I was going to fly off my bike, but thankfully there were no embarrassing incidents. In any case, Komang and his team were always right behind us in the buggy, ready to supply us with water or a tasty sandwich, and give us some insight into the local fruits growing alongside us, including fresh cocoa beans which are dried and processed, eventually to be made into chocolate.
The Fin Komodo was really simple and fun to drive, coasting over the large bumps and holes of the roads and weaving around the curves with ease. One minor drawback was that the engine was small, meaning that steep hills could only be climbed slowly. But it was a great experience handling this unconventional vehicle to get deep into Bali’s countryside.
Then it was time to stop and visit the Buddhist monastery. This beautiful and peaceful place was visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the 1980s and there’s even a statue of him in commemoration.
After this, a short buggy ride took us to some hot springs where we rested our weary muscles after all that mountain biking. On the drive back to base camp, we stopped to check out more spectacular views of rolling rice fields.
On our return, we feasted on a delicious three course meal and enjoyed more stunning views, this time with some Bintang beers, which perfectly rounded off our Bali buggy adventure.
This is a recommended day out for anyone who’s keen on a Bali adventure and to explore a different side to the island. An unforgettable highlight on my trip – thanks to Komang and the team for making it such a great day.
Thanks to Munduk Wilderness, who kindly hosted our off-road adventure.
Next up, discover more about Bali backpacking here.