WILD ADVENTURE MUM

“I showed her pictures of Leke Leke. She was sold. I packed snacks and the hiking carrier for Eia and we piled into our cars 30 minutes later.”

You pronounce it “Leky Leky“. Just fyi….

We visit aaaaaaalot of waterfalls. By now you should know how much I love getting outside with the kids and waterfall walks are really accessible here since there are a gazillion waterfalls in Bali. For me hiking to a waterfall is a “two birds with one stone” jobby – it exercises Marley (our golden retriever), it tires out the kids but gives them something to work towards on our walk (maybe a swim, definitely some kind of food treat when we get there!) and being in nature keeps me happy and sane! Ok, that’s three but fck it!

There are loads of waterfalls in Bali that aren’t much of a walk, you literally fall out the car and there they are but I like the ones that feel a bit more wild. With proper walk ins. That make you sweat! The other week my friend Michelle wanted to do a waterfall walk with her son and us and asked me where we could go since I’m the waterfall adventure obsessed mum in the group. The criteria was “one with a proper walk and within an hours drive of our house” in Sanur. I showed her pictures of Leke Leke. She was sold. I packed snacks and the hiking carrier for Eia and we piled into our cars 30 minutes later.

Leke Leke is one of my favourite waterfall walks to do with the kids & one we go back to over & over again. It also gets really busy in non covid times cause its super popular with content creators taking the same photos that 309760758763 other travel couples have taken every day since Eat, Pray, Love and the instagram effect landed in Bali. Come on guys, be original! Seriously, go check the instagram hashtag if you don’t believe me ๐Ÿ™‚

Waterfall selfie complete with a couple of the instagrammers we stumbled upon!

The last time we visited we stumbled upon a couple of travel couples taking some sexy pics. I don’t think theres a better contraception method for a young couple than a couple of red faced, sweaty mums, boobs ruined from breastfeeding, appearing out of the jungle with 3 sweaty kids in tow! Be safe kids or you’ll end up in our boat ๐Ÿ˜› To be fair, they were all really, really sweet kids. I actually feel bad that we probably put them off “physical activity” for a bit! Anyhoo, I’m being mean. Honest. But mean…..so lets move on!

Leke Leke is a stunning Bali must see so hereโ€™s some stuff Iโ€™ve gleaned from our many visits to prep you before you go with your own kids…

Itโ€™s 50K IDR for access. Small kids (I wanna say under 5โ€™s…?) go for free! Theres a little ticket booth next to the parking. While we’re on that note, thereโ€™s not a huge amount of space for parking. I managed to park my soccer mum car with no trouble lately only because the island is so quiet. It’d be best to have a driver drop you off & pick you up (sounds lavish but very normal in Bali for travellers!) or take a moped, which sounds crazy but also very normal in Bali to use bikes as people carriers!

To reach the waterfall, you take a bunch of steps down the side of the valley, then follow flat(ish) sections of trail, more steps, more trail, cross a bamboo bridge, a few more steps, a bit more trail & then youโ€™re there. Arlo is 3.5 & hewalks the whole way, Eia is 2 & sheโ€™s mostly in the hiking carrier – it takes us about 20 mins going down & 30 coming back up to give you an idea of timing. Though if you don’t have little legs with you, you could do it down and up in 20 minutes!

You can visit Leke Leke go all year but itโ€™s best in the dry season (Apr-Oct). The water is clearer & the walk is a bit less humid! Marginally…

Also thereโ€™s not a huge amount of space at the base of the falls, itโ€™s pretty much standing room only (it looks quiet in my pics cause covid) but theres often a lot of people at the bottom. I’d say its best to go early but the instagram crowd have got that down pat for all the popular spots here so you’ll probably even have company early doors. But we can usually perch on a little stone for our snacks – bring a towel for your bum cause everything is wet from the spray.

Theres a toilet and changing room at the top of the path, next to the warung at the top of the steps. Its closed right now because of covid (the warung, not the toilet!). You can get nice food and refreshments here before or after seeing the waterfall (the warung, not the toilet!) and the view over the jungle is awesome. You need to pay 5K for the pleasure though if you’re not eating there (the toilet, not the warung!) ๐Ÿ™‚ ย 

Bonus local mum tip for small kids!! On the way down when you see the sweet old dude with the tiny owl selling coconuts (the guyโ€™s selling coconuts, not the owl ๐Ÿ˜†) continue along the original path going LEFT & down. Heโ€™ll try to encourage you to take his new path past his warung but the steps are too big for little legs & slippery AF! Don’t forget to stop in & see him on the way back up for a coconut! Or local fresh fruit, he usually has passion fruit or salak…..yummmmm…..Arlo loves him cause he loves salak & he always sneaks a little freebie fruit into his hand! Oh and by that I mean Arlo loves salak, not the man. I mean, he (the man) probably loves it too, who knows! But just wanted to be clear. Ok, I think that’s everything. To summarise, Leke Leke is awesome with small kids. Go see it when you’re in Bali. Clear? ๐Ÿ™‚

…300m from the summit was probably NOT the best time for Nikki to drop into the conversation that โ€œthis was where I got to last time when the earthquake hit, I had to drop to my belly and then hightail it off the mountain before getting caught in a landslide!โ€ ooooookay then. Good talk.

hiking mount abang

Mount Abang is the third highest peak in Bali and forms part of the Batur Caldera Rim, overlooking the spectacular Danau Batur (Lake Batur). I’d heard that the Abang trail was pretty rough in places, not one for small kids, especially a backpack toddler so when my friend Nikki suggested we do it without kids last year, I jumped at the chance. Ok technically it wasn’t without kids. Her daughter joined us but she’s 11 and a total badass and I only said its not one for small kids so….

We left Sanur at 6am and the drive up to Bangli at the time of the morning was pretty quick. We were on the trail by 8am. The first section of the hike is a pretty easy going gradual uphill through the jungle with insane views down to the lake and across to neighbouring Mount Batur – one of Bali’s active volcanos. The massive lava field of black rock and what looks like (but probably isn’t) scorched earth is easily seen when viewed from above, saaaaayyy when you’re hiking Abang? Very cool.

After a half hour or so of walking, we reached the first little temple and after this, the trail started to get a little bit more sketchy and then a lot more sketchy all the way to the summit. Batur is famous for its sunrise hikes. Made for tourists, its a relatively straightforward trail to the top with constant switchbacks to handle the gradual increases in altitude. Yeh, Abang isn’t like that. It takes the path of least resistance, straight to the top and its pretty steep and loose in places. This is definitely not a hike for the rainy season because it’d be dangerously muddy and slippy for about two thirds of the trail where it gets dodgy AF.

We did it in early October after it’d had many months to dry out – not only was it right at the end of the dry season but the wet season 2019/20 had been one of the driest and hottest for years and still there was the odd muddy patch thanks to the moisture the mountain sucks out of the mist and passing clouds. So yeh, you’re gonna wanna save this hike for any time between April – October, but June – September would be the best months I reckon.

You come across the second temple after about another hour or so of hiking, nestled on a flat, open section of the trail. By this point, you’ll be sweating like a nun in a cucumber field (the fact its the dry season won’t save you, its still sweaty going at this altitude!) and have probably been scrambling a bit on your hands and knees, desperately looking for vines to use as handles to pull yourself up the steep sections. Well, settle in. There’s a bit more of that to go before you reach the summit.

Speaking of which, 300m from the summit was probably NOT the best time for Nikki to drop into the conversation that โ€œthis was where I got to last time when the earthquake hit, I had to drop to my belly and then hightail it off the mountain before getting caught in a landslide!โ€ ooooookay then. Good talk. Shortly after that bombshell we reached the summit, which is marked by another temple. At that point, my amazement at the fact that people carried the deconstructed temple up that trail was only second to my amazement at the epic view across to Amed on the east coast, Candidasa to the south of us and to neighbouring Mount Agung – Bali’s largest volcano – right next to Mount Abang.

All the way up the trail you get little teases of the spectacular views through the trees but on a clear day, you’re really in for a treat at the top with that view. It gets a bit chilly at the summit when the wind picks up and your sweat dries so pack a long sleeve. I packed a jacket ๐Ÿ˜€ hey, we live here – 23C is cold to me ๐Ÿ˜€

Your knees and thighs are gonna feel it on the way back down – its a good burn. Its a rewarding “I’ve hiked hard” burn. Its definitely faster going down than up but be careful, its slippy and loose under foot and I ended up on my arse at least twice accidentally and multiple times voluntarily to navigate some particularly dodgy areas.

Its not really a hike for little kids, I couldn’t take Arlo (3.5) and Eia (almost 2) yet but a strong 7 year old could probably manage it. Basically the older and fitter the kid the better! Hiking through what becomes a tropical cloud garden with lake and volcano views on either side – who doesn’t want to experience that? The fact I managed to escape my parenting responsibilities for a half day and enjoy a quiet hike was a bonus ๐Ÿ™‚

The other morning I was picking the brain of a friend about hikes off the beaten path suitable for young kids and completely unrelated, she dropped this gem into the conversation. We had nothing planned that afternoon so I chucked the kids in the car and went to look for it…we found it. We also found ourselves slap bang in the middle of a full moon ceremony! Let me start at the beginning….

Taman Beji Griya is located in Desa Punggul, a little shy of an hours car ride north from Sanur. Google maps took me almost right to it but when I entered the village I saw a sign for Taman Beji Griya Waterfall and promptly parked beside another car on the side of the road. After 20 mins walking with the kids on a paved path above padi fields (and negotiating our way through a bit of jungle on a vaguely there trail to get around the bit of the path that had been swept away!) we arrived at a car park and trail head for the waterfall. Oops. My bad. But the additional walk was spectacular – no regrets!

In Bali, you have to pay a small to fee access a lot of the waterfalls. Its usually pennies, about 20-50k but the villages need the cash and use it to keep the paths clean and in some places, build infrastructure to make access easier and safer for tourists. Some of the lesser known spots are still wild and free but Beji Griya, you have to pay. So anyways, we arrive at the trailhead to the waterfall and there are easily 200 or so Balinese beautifully dressed in their ceremonial sarongs, men in white shirts and ladies in white lace. Shit. I forgot. Its the full moon. In fact, that day it was a super moon lunar eclipse. Maaaaaaaasssssive deal here! We were greeted in Balinese “Om swastiastu” and I sheepishly asked if we could visit the waterfall when the ceremony was done. But the man said I didn’t have to wait, we were welcome to go down into the canyon while everything was in progress. I just had to wear a sarong and pay to enter. I’m not sure how much it was – 20k maybe – I wasn’t paying attention when he slipped my change into my hand. I was too busy hoisting Eia in the hiking carrier further up my shoulders off my hips to make way for the ladies arms that were wrapping a sarong around my sweaty waist ๐Ÿ˜€

We went down some stone steps and came to an open ceremonial area full of worshippers – some milling about soaking wet, some queuing in waist deep water to pray at the fountain. I felt like we were intruding a bit but the Balinese are so welcoming, ADORE kids (especially when I tell them our kids are part Indonesian) and were super eager to share this with us so we carried on down the steps into the canyon! Where we joined another queue of people adding offerings to a growing pile of offerings beside the river. The really cool thing about this canyon are all the 3D carvings in the canyon walls – snakes, hands, faces, fish. I thought the kids would love it! Arlo was in to the enormous snakes (imagine the Basilisk from Harry Potter and you’d be close) but I think the tortured faces may have traumatised him. Oops. Again, my bad.

Something else that made this waterfall stand out from any other we’ve visited was the screaming. There was a queue of people waiting to walk under the waterfall, fully clothed and scream, shout or laugh. The first couple of shouts I heard I thought the water must just be cold but I asked the lady in front of me (who so happened to be the one who’s arms had been around my waist 20 minutes previously) what was going on and assuming my Indonesian is as good as I think it is , she said they scream the first time to let out emotions maybe anger, sadness etc and scream the second time to let in joy. Arlo has been, shall we say, challenging these last few weeks – this is exactly what I needed.

They asked if I wanted to join in. Uhhhh, hell yeh I did! I had a lot of parenting rage to externalise, they practically had to drag me backwards out of the waterfall ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m not sure I got round to the joy part ๐Ÿ˜€ Oh and did I mention, I still had Eia in the hiking carrier and Arlo holding my hand when I went under? I’m not sure how I thought it’d go but I probably shouldn’t have been shocked that it went down like a lead balloon. Eia especially was seriously unimpressed. Especially since the sodding towel was on the back of the carrier. Oops. My bad! Don’t feel to bad for them though – I took them to soft play the next morning to make up for it. They loooooooove soft play. I hate soft play. We’re totally even.

Eta’s face….massive mum fail!

If you’re ever in the area for a visit or wanna put this on your Bali bucket list, here are the logistics:

Name: Taman Beji Griya Waterfall

Location: Jl. Mawar, Punggul, Kec. Abiansemal, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80352

Entry: There’s an entry fee, I wanna say it was maybe 20k per adult? Definitely not more than 50K. Small kids go free.

Access: a stone staircase takes you down in the little canyon. 5 minutes from the parking, tops. Unless you park in the wrong place like I did ๐Ÿ˜€

Trail Difficulty: None, unless you’re not good with stairs! Though theres not very many.

Suitable for Small Kids: Absolutely! It’s not a long walk down, they can manage it on their own with a hand hold. Just watch out cause the steps and base of the canyon are slippery! Big and little kids will love the carvings!

Swimming Hole: No but you can stand under the waterfall to cool off and de-stress ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bonus Local Info: The walking track is signposted in each direction when you leave the waterfall. I put a photo above. This is the track we walked along after parking in the wrong place! It’s definitely worth a wander, the views over the padi fields are stunning! And its a super easy track for small kids since its paved, assumably for motorbike access for petani (farmers). PS, don’t forget mozzie spray!