On a mission to inspire a closer connection to Bali’s natural environment and establish an appreciation for ‘road trip culture’, this campervan experience entices adventure-seekers to cut the cord to civilisation and explore Bali off the beaten track.
“Road trip”: an emotive two words, awakening within us a slumbering wanderer craving to put the pedal to the metal and leave the world we know behind us. These two words have long been romanticised in literature, be it Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, or even Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; all of which describe the feeling of ultimate liberation that such a journey can bestow.
Despite the rich variety of landscapes Bali has to offer, road trips have never really taken off as a regular experience. Exploration of the island has often centred around day trips and day tours, which certainly introduce one to somewhere or something new, but rarely does it instil a lasting memory of a destination. A feeling. One which can only be brought about by spending enough time to absorb the atmosphere of an area.
Why is this though? Well, everyone goes home or back to their hotel in time for dinner! Leaving the wonders they’ve seen behind, remembered only through the photographs and videos captured. One group of island explorers, however, decided that they didn’t want to have such fleeting moments in Bali’s most beautiful places. They wanted time to soak up their surroundings, to immerse themselves into the environment. This was the birth of Bali Campers, a campervan experience company on a mission to encourage people to take to the open roads and discover a Bali found only off the beaten track.
Cut from the Leash!
Converting a standard minivan into a rolling studio apartment, what Bali Campers has done is essentially cut the cord to civilisation: equipped with a double-bed, stove, shower and sink, a refrigerator, a solar panel and all the necessary amenities, these Bali campervans are the opportunity to go off-grid, separate from society and reconnect directly to nature… at least for a while.
Imagine waking up to a direct view out over the Batur caldera in Kintamani, the rising sunlight washing across the caldera rim and Lake Batur below you. Or finding the perfect clifftop perch over an east Bali beach, where you’ll set up camp, unfold your deck chairs and enjoy a drink at sunset — a private show. Or head up high to the mountain ranges of Karangasem where in the evening you’re surrounded only by trees, covered in a blanket of stars, with only the buzz of cicadas piercing an otherwise silent night. The boundaries between you and the environment removed, integrating you with the natural world.
When you are no longer constrained by the need for nearby hotels and facilities, you will look at a map of Bali in a completely new way. Every cove and every corner is a potential destination. You’ll look at the map with wide eyes, eager to find a special and secret spot to enjoy all for yourself. Boundless opportunity to discover a new part of Bali.
On a New Timeline
With road trips in general, whilst we certainly set a destination, the journey there is all the fun. Few people realise just how unbelievably scenic the roads across Bali can be until they have set course for one of the island’s distant corners. Roads that wind up mountainsides overlooking rice fields and farmlands, roads that cut through forests, or open up to vast savannahs. As a “paradise island”, there has always been a focus on the coastlines and beaches, owing to the many lifestyle offerings, or more accurately, temptations; but a road trip will introduce you to the highly underrated beauty of Bali’s interior.
What’s more, outside of Bali’s tourist-centred south, the atmosphere quickly changes. You’ll see an ‘everyday Bali’, one that doesn’t follow the bustle of tourism and hospitality, but rather a slow and natural pace of daytime, as local populations go about their daily lives.
Pace is certainly a theme of road trips, as you adjust to the rhythm of the road, governed by time and distance, at mercy only to the rising and falling of the sun. With the campervans allowing you to stop where you please, more or less, you are more open to exploring random corners or things that spark your interest. You’ll find that it is these deliberate ‘wrong turns’ that lead you to surprising but welcome discoveries. Venture as far as your curiosity will take you!
Planning your adventure
Perhaps the most satisfying thing about a Bali road trip is being able to experience so many of the island’s different landscapes in one journey. For example, you can plan a route that travels to the centre of Bali, high in the hills of Munduk, before rolling down to the north at Lovina, traversing the coast eastwards towards Tejakula, the Tianyar Savannah then down to Amed, back to the interior to the rice field valleys of Sidemen, then back to ‘civilization’. Or perhaps a leisurely trip to West Bali National Park, stopping wherever along the way.
You will find that there are campsites peppered across the whole island, often found in superb locations, like at the edge of one of Bali’s lakes (Danau Tamblingan) or on a coastal clifftop (Bukit Asah). These campsites are open to campervans as well, allowing you to take advantage of the facilities available. Bali Campers has a list of their recommended campsites, with a few of their own spots which aren’t on the map if you’re looking for true seclusion and isolation.
Whilst a road trip is supposed to be an adventure, Bali Campers has kitted out their campervans to ensure as much comfort as possible. Firstly, the vans run on an Automatic transmission for easy driving, the rear seats fold into to a bed (with bedding and mattress) that comfortably sleeps two adults, they have installed auxiliary ventilation to keep cool at night, and a 120-litre water tank so that you can even have a shower in the great outdoors! For cooking you’ll find a propane stove, pans and kitchen items, a 19-litre drinking water dispenser, as well as an in-built refrigerator to store your food. A large awning extends out of the side of the van, making a covered area for hot or rainy days.
A solar-charged lithium battery keeps everything running, even when the car is off. Even in the middle of nowhere, your modern conveniences are still provided for — though nothing’s stopping you from disconnecting with the world for a while either.
So, if you’re one for true exploration, for creating your own adventure, to discovering parts of the island very few people bother to see, perhaps it’s time for a road trip. Through each remote destination and the journeys you’ll take to get there, there is no doubt that your love and appreciation for Bali will only grow.
To quote Jack Kerouac, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”