The Journey to Bali’s Sekumpul Waterfall
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Where is Sekumpul waterfall?
Deep inside the jungle of Bali’s northern Sawan district of the Buleleng regency lies one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world–Sekumpul waterfall. What makes this specific waterfall so special is its overall impressions and the layout of its surroundings. Comfortably nested within a valley of dark green tropical trees, this 80-meter drop is a true beauty among even more waterfalls that can be explored by foot.
Getting to Sekumpul waterfall
Although Bali is a rather small island, distances can generally be deceiving. Due to poor road conditions, a trip to Sekumpul waterfall from the islands’ capital, Denpasar, can easily take about 2.5 hours. Since this is too much driving for a day trip, I recommend finding a location in the central part of the island. There is an abundance of hotels that are extremely cheap but perfectly located for short day trips in any direction. Due to the chaotic driving habits on the island, booking a private driver may be the safest thing to do, especially for people with no experience driving a scooter, which is the most common mode of transportation on the island. However, if you still want to drive yourself, finding your way to the waterfall is easy, especially with GPS.
The entrance to the valley to Sekumpul waterfall.
The main location for entering the valley of the Sekumpul waterfall is a small town called Lemukih. This is where you can pay a cheap entrance fee of only 20,000 IDR ($1.50 US) to gain access to the valley. You will also get a chance to hire a tour guide for a trekking tour. Whether or not you want to do that is up to you, but in my opinion it is highly advisable for two main reasons. First, even the guided “long trekking” tour of about 3 hours only costs $5 US. Secondly, it gets a bit confusing to navigate through rice fields and bushes once you start approaching the valley. I had a great time with my tour guide, and I believe that he made the experience so much better.
After being transported from Lemukih village to a large parking lot, my guide explained that this was the official beginning of the hike. Slightly descending, we carefully walked down some stairs.
A roaring sound in the distance slowly became louder as we approached a spot that looked like an opening towards the jungle in front of us. The second we stepped into that opening, we faced a steep cliff right in front of us. Not only did this spot give us a breathtaking view of the jungle, it also revealed the waterfall right below us in the valley. At this point, I became impatient. Before going on this journey, I had a rough idea of what to expect, but once I saw the true beauty of Sekumpul waterfall, I just wanted to get down to the valley as fast as possible.
Through rice fields and rivers.
The following 45 minutes of the hike felt like we were on a scenic drive by foot. After crossing some rice fields, we ended up at a small stream of water with a bridge, not higher than 2 feet above the water.
Our guide asked if I wanted to spend some time at this location and I immediately agreed. A few feet downstream, there was a water hole with a 3-meter cliff from which we alternated jumping. After about 30 minutes, we put our shoes back on and continued the hike. It is highly advisable to either bring a swimsuit to wear or something that works for both hiking and swimming, like a bikini with a shirt on top for women or just swim trunks for men.
The moment we reached Sekumpul waterfall.
The last stretch of the hike led us through Sekumpul valley. For some reason, walking through the dense, tropical green foliage reminded me of my all-time favorite movie, Jurassic Park. And just when my imagination was trapped in overwhelming thoughts of dinosaurs, there it was. I walked through an opening that almost looked like a natural gate and was staring right at it.
The beauty and size of the Sekumpul waterfall made me speechless. At this point, each step should be taken carefully, since the ground gets stonier and, due to the waterfall’s mist, very slippery. After taking some pictures, I asked our guide how close we could get to the waterfall. He smiled, and advised me to leave everything except the waterproof GoPro on the ground, and follow him. And so, I did!
Sekumpul waterfall is an incredible force of nature.
Slow as a turtle, we walked towards the waterfall. Step-by-step, with our heads down. The downfall of the water created a mist so forceful that we could barely open our eyes. A few seconds later, we stood right underneath that beautiful giant. One thing that really stood out to me was that the tour guides at no point tried to rush us. Not once was I told to “hurry up” or “move on.” This was one big plus on the decision to hire a guide for sure. Once we were completely soaked, we slowly started walking a little more around the valley. In fact, just a few steps from the Sekumpul waterfall there are several other waterfalls, such as the Fiji waterfall, which consists of three small water drops. After this little excursion, we made our way back up. This time, of course, the journey was a little more exhausting since we had to climb a lot of stairs.
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Thomas Später, PhD, is an experienced backpacking traveler that specializes in adventurous trips around the globe. He has traveled to remote and exotic places, such as Namibia or Mongolia and focuses on landscape and wildlife photography to share the beauty of our planet with others. In 2021, Thomas published a (German) book about Overpopulation and Over-consumption (Die Überbevölkerung). With his awareness of current global issues, he uses his travels to support particularly local hotels and restaurants to raise awareness for the nature and culture of his destinations. Follow Thomas´ adventures on Instagram as well as on his website, World In Frames.