This cycling tour in Kintamani will do more than just take you on a ‘pass-by trip’ through Balinese nature. You will learn and discover, and you will delve deep into the very lives of the Balinese people and their culture.
Although it’s officially called a ‘cycling tour’, it would be best described as a journey into the heart of Bali. When one books such a trip, our first expectation would be a strenuous push up and down hills and through tight rice-field paths, a healthy galumph through the countryside. The trip you take with Bali Eco Cycling however, takes a slightly different turn.
Really, the first half of the cycling tour involves no cycling at all: the experience begins, like all good days out, with an early wake-up. A morning pick-up takes you towards Mount Batur, famous for its sunrise treks many embark upon.
However – and almost as good – your early rise is rewarded with breakfast at Lakeview Hotel’s restaurant, The Lookout. Appropriately named, The Lookout perches on the crater rim of the ancient caldera that surrounds Batur. So, your breakfast view? A full vista of the mountain, lake and surrounding valley. With a soft morning light shining through the slowly rising mountain dew, it’s difficult to not feel at least a little awe-struck. The peace of Kintamani is instantly felt.
Still, even post-breakfast, the cycling does not yet begin. The Eco Cycling team first brings you to an intriguing agrotourism site. This stop is perfect for those keen to learn more about the local fauna; as you wander the lush grounds, the friendly guides explain to you the different cash crops of the area. You will see coffee beans, cacao pods and Balinese snake fruit all growing here, but most intriguingly the site homes two civet cats known best for creating the world-renowned ‘kopi luwak’, a coffee made from the ripe beans selected and fermented by this feline!
You will learn about, and try, some local spices, and also learn the processes of preparing coffee beans, including those defecated by the civet cat. After your insightful lessons, you are invited to taste and savour the different kinds of coffee, cacao and more before the cycling begins.
Finally, after much view-taking and coffee-tasting, the real journey begins. Geared up on the Bali Eco Cycling mountain bikes you set off on your 25km trip with your guides. 25km is a daunting sum but really as the track heads south towards Ubud, it is mainly downhill.
Now, as you drift along the backroads between Bangli and Ubud, gravity taking the wheel, you begin to attune to your surroundings. Unlike traveling in a car- where you are boxed in, breathing in air-conditioning and the glass windows and metal doors disconnect you from the outside world – on the bicycle you become part of the scene. Your only pollution is the quiet whir of your wheels touching the road and the occasional clink of the bike chain as you pedal.
Along these roads, Bali shows its true colours. There are temples and village compounds, their walls covered with a thin layer of moss; grass still lines the roads; and the palm trees are the tallest things on the horizon. The most satisfying thing is that you are part of this very scene, you breathe the air, your skin soaks in the sun and the local children call out to you, ‘selamat pagi!’, good morning!
Perhaps the best part of the tour however, is the occasional breaks you will take. Not because you are tired or anything, but because each pit-stop has a reason. The first is a traditional Balinese family compound, whereby the guide explains the meaning of each building, the structure of family life, the beliefs of the Balinese.
Albeit a simplified version of a very complex system, the guides do remarkably well to give an accurate overview of the Balinese traditions and way of life. What’s more, you are able to wander the compound grounds, an authentic site passed down through many generations. The second stop is at one of the many rice padi that dominate Bali’s hills and lowlands.
Here you learn of the hardships of the rice farmers, their daily routine. Standing there in the padi, sweating beneath the glaring sun, is when you will feel the utmost empathy for the Balinese farmer – truly a sobering experience. Your last stop is at an ancient Banyan tree,where the guides explain further the intriguing customs of the Balinese Hindu.
Your day ends in a restaurant huddled between the padi fields in Pejeng, north of Ubud. It serves up an array of authentic Balinese cuisine. The crisp air licks at your skin, cooling you down as you eat.
Now, what did I mean when I said this is more than just a cycling tour? That is far too simplified a label, it is more accurate to say that the bicycle is a medium on which you are able to truly immerse yourself into the Balinese countryside, to be a part of it, to be able to take it in properly. With the expert help and knowledge of the Bali Eco Cycling guides, your cycling tour experience is bound to have you falling in love with Bali.
Bali Eco Cycling’s tour includes a free pick-up, breakfast and lunch and is suitable for all ages. They offer a morning and afternoon tour (afternoon tours only during certain times of the year) and also an additional 10km for active guests looking for more adventure.
Bali Eco Cycling
Jalan Raya Pengosekan
Peliatan Ubud Bali
Phone: 0361 97 5557