Bali Eco Stay is just about as far off-the-beaten-path as one can get in Bali. Hidden deep in the jungle on the slopes of Batukaru Mountain, the road to approach the remote green sanctuary is splintered with massive holes in the road. There’s only one small corner store operated by a local family that sells the necessities and an assortment of piping hot mysterious Indonesian dishes in the afternoon. This isn’t the place to base yourself if you plan to sightsee, instead, it’s a haven to explore in and of itself. Here are five things you’ll love about Bali Eco Stay.
Bali Eco Stay is dedicated to maintaining the tranquil rice fields that surround the luxurious eco bungalows. They’ve worked with local villagers to educated them about sustainable farming, recycling methods, and have even placed trash bags around the neighboring five villages which they pick up regularly. Guests are welcome to bring the bags back to the boutique eco-resort if they go trekking around the rice patties and encouraged to pick up rubbish they find along the way. You won’t come across much rubbish on the ground though as the local villagers here are fully on board to keep their neighborhood green and clean.
The area was new to tourism in 2010 when Bali Eco Stay was erected. Actually, the valley is still owned by the local Balinese farmers Agung and Mini. John and Cath, an Australian couple, built the resort by hand with local natural resources and rents the land from the farmers, as well as employing them and anyone else who is interested in working at Bali Eco Village from the surrounding compounds. The commitment to the community doesn’t end there. Bali Eco Stay formed a library at the Kumetug elementary school, financially supports Bali Peduli, an HIV treatment initiative, funds the celebrations of Nyepi, the Balinese new year for surrounding villages, and many more noteworthy projects.
In addition to their dedication to environmental and social sustainability, the eco-resort also operates a hydro energy plant, strict wastewater recycling system, and maintains naturally spring-fed pools and a waterfall. The idyllic getaway has taken every step to make a minimal negative impact on their serene surroundings and massive positive impact on the community. More can be learned about sustainability at Bali Eco Stay on Book Greener. Bali Eco Stay is equally committed to their guests and is located a safe distance from the active volcano, Mount Agung. They’ve committed to extending guests stay free of charge should the volcano activity increase enough to close the Ngurah Rai International Airport.
GORGEOUS TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN BUNGALOWS
I was invited to stay in the Little Padi Bungalow at the eco-friendly farm stay accommodation. The treehouse is nestled away on the far edge of the property just a stone’s throw away from endless rice terraces. The two-story structure is entirely open-air, yet private as it faces away from the rest of the property. The bungalow is two stories with the spacious outdoor bathroom and garden on the first floor and sleeping and living quarters upstairs. A cozy daybed sits near the panoramic window where I spent hours watching tropical storms pour through the region in the evening, and the sun spread warmth across the land in the morning. On a clear day, I could even see the sea beyond the rolling hills of untouched rainforests. The view was without a doubt the most spectacular I witnessed throughout my entire month in Bali and surrounding islands.
During the evenings when I was snuggled in bamboo sheets on the plush queen size bed I couldn’t distinguish if the soothing water sounds lingering in the air were from rain, or the water streaming all around me. The sound was hypnotizing and lulled me to sleep each night. Another energy saver at Bali Eco Stay is the lack of air conditioning units, their simply not needed in the mountainous area, even in the peak of summer heat. The bungalows were built to mimic the natural wind patterns and the natural wood shutters that can be closed in the evening are slatted allowing the breeze to keep the room cool throughout the night. The river at Bali Eco Stay is used for hydroelectricity and powers 60% of the eco-resort.
Plastic is also unnecessary at Bali Eco Stay, all toiletries and drinking water are stored in reusable containers and replenished as needed. Pure spring water naturally oxygenated and infused with minerals and nutrients from Mount Batukaru is used throughout Bali Eco Stay. Yes, you can even drink the water directly from the taps, a rarity in Southeast Asia. Potable water is scarce in Bali. The eco-resort has programs set in order to conserve every drop of the precious H2O. The bungalow toilets and showers have septic systems and the wastewater is used to nurture the surrounding gardens. Because of this, it’s crucial to use the provided biodegradable locally handmade shampoo, body wash, and bug repellent, as they’re completely organic and won’t harm the irrigation system. Your skin will thank you, they smell of fresh cut mint and left me feeling clean and soft. There is even a hot water thermos so you can prepare your own coffee and tea whenever you please.
Eight over-water bungalows and pondoks pepper the land at Bali Eco Stay, each with a unique design ethos that harmoniously reflects the natural beauty of the environment and pays homage to Indonesian architecture. Created with locally sourced natural and recycled materials building process is ever evolving. John shared with me that they’d initially tried to solely use bamboo as it grows in abundance on the property, but that the lumber couldn’t handle the rainy season so eventually had to be replaced with a more durable local timber. The bungalows were placed strategically in order to oxygenate the structures and not to disturb the natural setting of the rice paddies or forest.
PERMACULTURE FARM TO TABLE CUISINE
One of the most exciting aspects of staying at a farm stay is the locally produced and prepared food! Bali Eco Stay offers guests the chance to join guided tours of the food forest and permaculture farms to learn about the food growing process. The sour volcanic soil on the mountain makes the land here perfect for farming organic produce. Bali Eco Stay grows peas, bananas, pineapple, papaya, peanuts, eggplant, chili, beetroot, kale, spinach, tomatoes, celery, coconut, coffee cherries, and many more organic fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices.
Chemicals and pesticides are never used, instead, the farmers practice permaculture and innovative trial and error methods to figure out what works or doesn’t. All of the scraps are used either for compost or to feed the humanely raised chickens. My favorite thing about the farm tour was seeing how they’ve repurposed old bamboo shoots as herb planters. There’s even an amazing swing that soars over the garden made of upcycled wood.
My guide, who learned his vast knowledge about agriculture through his employment at Bali Eco Stay, helped me pick ready to eat mulberries, laughed at me as I was stunned by hanging pumpkins and the beautiful vanilla vines, and crack open a cacao fruit to eat the raw seeds, which I instantly fell in love with. I couldn’t resist endless cups of Bali Eco Stay’s organic fair-trade coffee. Did you know that rice takes four months to grow? The rice was freshly planted during my stay and the farmers could be seen working all day to tenderly care for the young rice.
After you’ve strolled through the property and discovered that food is growing literally all around you make your way to the restaurant that overlooks the Bali Eco Stay picturesque rice terraces and beyond. The menu at Kupe Kupe is created with at least 75% of food from the land and will please even the pickiest of taste buds with an array of western dishes combined with options for most dietary restrictions including vegetarian and vegan options as well as dairy, sugar, and gluten-free dishes. No matter what you order I can promise it’ll be bursting with flavor.
To immerse yourself even further in the organic food principals at Bali Eco Stay and awaken your senses take a cooking class with the local villagers that run the kitchen. Just like everything else at Bali Eco Stay the kitchen is entirely sustainable. Meals are prepared on gas stoves during daylight and dishes are washed by hand with biodegradable soaps. Many of the tools in the kitchen are made from coconut wood or stainless steel and glass, there’s no plastic in sight. The lovely Arni graciously invited me into her kitchen and tenderly walked me through the process of hand making authentic Balinese dishes. With her expert help I was able to prepare a mouth-watering rendition of pepes ikan, steamed fish in banana leaves, that was extra delicious due to the double dosage of love that went into the creation of the meal.
TRYING MY HANDS AT BAMBOO WEAVING
Beyond cooking classes, there are many other cultural workshops available for those eager to experience the beautiful Balinese heritage. I opted to learn how to weave a basket from bamboo. Guest can also choose to learn how to carve wood, create traditional offerings, or make kites. My teacher was Kakek, one of the village elders, and although we couldn’t communicate through spoken language we managed to understand each other through our handiwork, and smiles. He was incredibly patient and took his time to demonstrate the weaving pattern for each step of the basket, and praised me once I caught up with sturdy pats on the back and a rickety thumbs up. I was amazed that within 20-minutes a pile of thin bamboo strips had transformed into a beautiful bamboo basket. It was even sturdy enough to hold a bundle of heavy lemons!
INDULGE IN A HEAVENLY TWENTY FINGER MASSAGE
I’d been spoiling myself while exploring Bali and treated myself to numerous Balinese massages. However, ever since I learned about four hand massage in India I’ve been eager to try this luxurious holistic treatment. Two skilled therapists kneaded my body in unison at a euphoric tempo that eased the sorest places and left me feeling deeply nourished and rejuvenated. The open-air Bale where the wellbeing treatments are performed allowed for the natural smells and sounds of the jungle to seep in as a light rain pattered on the dense surrounding forest. The mini sanctuary is pristine in its simplicity. The beauty lies in the harmonious flow of the atmosphere, and the skilled massage therapists, which together create a blissful experience. A twenty finger massage is exactly what my body needed to completely connect with nature.
TREKKING AROUND THE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY
Bali Eco Stay is surrounded by incredible untouched nature, farmlands, and authentic villages so it’s an absolute must to get out and explore during your stay. They’ve mapped and marked routes, in red and green, which will lead you on a trek through the picturesque landscapes of the valley. I opted to self-guide the trek but went pretty far off course and ended up missing quite a few of the sights such as the chocolate groves and coffee plantations. I’d recommend going with a certified local guide, not only will you not get lost, but you’ll be sure to witness all of the splendor the valley has to unveil. The guides will also be able to inform you about the food forests, wildlife, and communities you pass through.
Fortunately, I did manage to come across endless perfectly sculptured rice terraces that seemingly went on forever. What got me off track was my determination to find the waterfall. It had rained the evening before and that path was so muddy that once I found it I couldn’t make it down to the pool as it was too slick. When I got back to Bali Eco Stay they chuckled and told me I could have walked upstream to the waterfall, but I didn’t ask in advance. Luckily Bali Eco Stay has their own 12-meter waterfall right on the grounds so I cooled off there and in the spring-fed natural swimming pool.
Thank you, Bali Eco Stay for hosting me at your gorgeous farm stay. All opinions and photos are my own. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.