From US $ 35/person
Bali is one of the smallest islands of the Indonesian archipelago, with an area of 5780 sq kilometers. Laying 8 degrees south of the equator, it has the warm, humid climate of the tropics. Temperatures are usually in the eighties and rainfall is generous, particularly from November to February when the northern monsoon brings in the season of heavy tropical rain, whilst the months between May and August are generally drier and less humid.
Like many other parts of the archipelago, Bali is volcanic. A range of mountains runs from west to east separating the rugged northern part of the island from the more densely populated, gently sloping south. Two volcanoes have been active comperatedly recently and one, Gunung Batur, 1717 meters high, still emits sulphurous fumes from its mouth. This volcano, situated in the northern part of the island, lies in the center of huge circular amphitheater at least 17 kilometer across and 1,5 kilometers deep. This gigantic crater (caldera) is one of the biggest in the world and was formed when the summit of a previous volcano of the enormous dimension collapsed inward. Later eruptions have pierced trough the floor of the caldera causing of the formation of black, volcanic cone lets, of which the central cone, the smoking Mount Batur, is the largest. Nestling between this mountain and the southern flanges of the crater rim is the crescent shaped Lake Batur, upon whose shore the oldest know inhabitants of the island, the Bali Aga, survive in isolation.
The other active volcano, Gunung Agung, 3142 meters forms the highest peak of the whole island. It is a typically cone-shaped volcano and erupted after many years of silence in 1963. In the eastern part of Bali near the village of Karangasem dark, ominous rivers of solidified lava flows create a desolate almost lunar landscape. In this area volcanic ash can still be seen grey, stratified layers exposed in road cuttings and river banks leading from Mount Agung.
The combination of lava-enriched soil, plentiful rain and warm sun has produced a tremendously rich landscape, where flower flourish in profusion and the growth is green and lush allowing the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, peanuts, sugar cane, tobacco, coconut, coffee, and, most important of all, rice. This cereal is grown on attractively sculpted terraces watered by a communal irrigation system developed over the centuries and still used most successfully today, producing two of the finest rice crops in Asia each year.
The major part of the coastline is rocky, except for a few good beaches such as Sanur, where fishing communities have survived for centuries. This is not a major occupation of the Balinese, however, partly of the island’s geography but probably also because of the people belief that evil spirits lurk in the depths of the sea.
Situated in the tropics, coral reefs are in abundance skirting the shoreline at a distance of just a few hundred meters. These reefs protect the island from the pounding rollers of the Indian Ocean to the south and the Java Sea along the northern shores, creating sheltered lagoons. At low tide, when the coral reefs are laid bare, fishermen slowly weave their way in and out of the shallow pools in search of prawns and other small fish, particularly at Sanur. At night their lantern can be seen stretched along the beaches like a beaded necklace moving to the gentle rhythm of the lapping tide. At Kuta Beach, where the coral reef is absent, huge rollers come crashing onto the soft, white sands making ideal condition for surfing.
Bali has substantial population for its relatively small size, so most of the available land is under cultivation. But there is some jungle too. Here the steaming heat covers the slope of the volcanoes with giant ferns and palm entangled in a vast variety of creepers. The vivid color of orchid and other exotic tropical flowers are woven into the green sea of foliage while inhabited by noisy wild monkeys, screeching birds, crocodiles, jungle fowl and occasionally tigers in the remote west.
In the extreme south of the Bukit Peninsula and to the west, ancient limestone plateau and hills give rise to a more arid, dry landscape in contrast to the moist, jungly slope of volcanic highlands. On this peninsula, which culminates in cliffs 76 meters high where the sacred temple of Uluwatu majestically stands, stunted scrubland and cacti abound, inhabited by deer, wild hogs and giant lizards resembling miniature dragons.