Saribuana Eco Lodge, Bali, Indonesia
Based around the highest levels of what it means to be an ecolodge – Saribuana has excelled itself. Perched up near Mount Batakaru in Central Bali, Saribuana is a pioneer of ecotourism on Bali that has set an internationally recognized standard. Founded by Norm and Linda van Hoff in 2000, it offers accommodation in one of five handcrafted bungalows, healthy organic and raw locally sourced meals and a plethora of environmentally based activities for adults and kids. There is also yoga in the new bale or massages for those wanting to unwind.
The Lodge is located in a slightly mystical part of Bali, hidden above the only real rainforest on the island, and immersed in a silently alive ecosystem. It has immense sweeping views over the forest canopy, down to lush paddy fields and to the ocean on a clear day. Full of character and warmth it is a retreat in Bali’s new bustling landscape, a place for relaxation or adventure, discovery and delicious cuisine. Evolved over time from a home to an ecolodge, starting to offer people accommodation who came for permaculture courses in the 1990’s to being open permanently in the past eight years.
You can immerse yourself in the scenery by join a rice paddy, temple or rainforest trek. The lodge supports a lot of community-based projects that you can participate in, such as cooking classes, woodcarving, traditional medicine and massages. The property itself is filled with little havens and secret spots to discover by yourself, lush organic gardens and a various animals, including a few monkeys that cannot be rehabilitated, so this is now their home. This is a place of serenity with no evidence of the world below, allowing you to choose quiet peaceful days or forays into the forest and beautiful natural beauty that encompasses Saribuana.
There are various sizes of houses in the ecolodge for lone travellers up to family groups. All have incredible views and a rustic warmth and character. The Jungle Bungalow is the largest of the charmingly crafted houses. Spacious and providing every comfort taking its structure from traditional materials, there are plenty of areas to relax and take in the views and sounds of the forest. Furnishings take from the landscape around with wonderful large vases of Birds of Paradise, bamboo sheets to slip away in softness, homemade toiletries aromatic with ylang ylang and lemongrass and nooks in windows to read and relax. There is an overwhelming sense of tranquility here, and as the sun goes down, the sky comes alive with stars and the forest with monkey calls, beckoning a deep sleep.
The change in flora and fauna in this part of Bali is incredible, it is overgrown and green, majestic palm ferns are dotted around and the whole feeling is that of really being immersed in a lost and lush land. This is a very different and ethereal part of Bali. Discover this landscape by taking a trek through the rainforest, across the rice paddy fields to Bakataru Temple or even climb Mount Bakataru. Over the Past five years the lodge has established Sarinbuana Trekking Guide Association (STGA). Working closely with our local community to increase environmental awareness and bring financial benefit to our local community.
By taking a trek you are supporting eco-income to the local community as it encourages ecotourism as a form of income rather than exploiting the ecosystem, US$25 is donated from every trek you undertake. The guides are knowledgeable about their local landscape and will show you cacoa, coffee and vanilla growing wild as well as a plethora of bird, butterflies and other inhabitants of the forest. A climb up Mount Bakataru is a trip for the adventurous and fit, but as well as taking in the fantastic forests you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the island from the summit of the second highest volcano in Bali.
For the slightly less intrepid traveller this is also the perfect place to relax and unwind. There is plenty to discover amongst the property and the winding paths. Take a tour the organic gardens that are scattered around the property and go into the making the exquisite cuisine. The yoga bungalow is sustainably made of bamboo and as well as scheduled yoga lessons can be used as a meditation space or a place for practice in this secluded verdant spot. For a refreshing break there is a magical waterfall feeding natural swimming holes. Following a little footpath winding down steep steps, through the trees, over the paddy fields and then emerging at the bottom by a crystal clear stream where you swim in one of three natural cool pools filled by cascading falls and surrounded nothing but trees and plants teeming with sounds of the forest.
After exploring this amazing part of Bali it is time to discover the cozy restaurant at Saribuana Eco Lodge. Linda is a raw food consultant and many of the delicious dishes are hers, combined with local favourites and special dinners, the dining room caters to every kind of palate and diet. The slow raw food menu is created using only local ingredients from a fifty-kilometer radius of the lodge and using fresh water from the spring where possible. The deserts are delectable and raw, with the rich dreamy coconut crème caramel being the best on the island.
The lodge has incorporated their ethos into every part of this property’s hidden breathtaking beauty. In addition to their commitment within the hotel and employing a hundred percent Indonesian, they also sponsor a number of projects in the neighbouring villages that guests can donate to. Social projects include football teams, English lessons, Balinese dance and traditional martial arts and a scholarship programme for university as well as a village school fund. Support of the environment is equally as important and they have a tree-planting project in the Bakataru rainforest, starting a breeding project for the protected Bali Starling and their commitments to the local environment through running treks with STGA.
Saribuana Eco Lodge is a secluded and beautifully peaceful spot hidden in Bali. They have managed to strike the perfect balance between a relaxing comfortable retreat and their surrounding environment. This creates a symbiotic experience between escape and eco ethos that immerses the visitor into their natural surroundings and the ultimate natural holiday experience, as well as Bali’s unspoilt cultural landscape. This is the perfect place to rebalance, relax, explore and adventure into the heart of this beautiful island.
Photos Courtesy of Saribuana Eco Lodge & Words by Electra Gillies