Category

Adventure

Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

Uganda is a landlocked country with a diverse landscape that encompasses the immense Lake Victoria and spreads all the way to Mt. Ruwenzori.  It is one of the few countries in Africa and by extension in the world with a wide range of wildlife to admire, most of which are rare species. But what really is it that makes the Pearl of Africa eccentric?

If Uganda is your destination, be ready to experience real adventure. Starting with the cool environment itself, going to the wildlife and other natural features, and flowering it all with Uganda’s cuisine. Many people have always wished they had planned to stay longer, while others planning for revisits. Some of the highlights of the country include the endangered tree-climbing lions and mountain gorillas. Other activities to enjoy are rafting on Lake Victoria, the source of the great Nile River, adventure in the mystical villages that are hidden in the mist and volcanoes among others. The question is, “what are the best places to visit in Uganda?”

Top Places to Visit near Kampala/Entebbe

Being the capital city of Uganda, it is most likely that your first landing in Uganda will be in Kampala if not Entebbe. Kampala has very interesting neighborhoods which include the Mabamba Swamp that is well decked with shoebill storks among other water birds. There is also the wildlife-rich Mabira Rainforest, Lake Mburo as well as Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and the Ssezibwa Falls, just to mention but a few. You will surely not lack something to admire adventure, do or experience in Kampala and its surroundings.

The Tree Climbing Lions & Chimpanzees

On the western side of Uganda lies Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most visited game reserved. The intricate wildlife found in the game is a reason for its popularity with the tree climbing lions attracting the highest number of visitors. These are lions that are very rare in other countries but quite many in this park. Meanwhile, Chimpanzees are other rare species in the world and for those who want to have an experience with them; Kibale National park is the place to go.

Gorillas in the Mist

It seems that Uganda is a home to primates as can be seen from how abundant endangered primate species are all over the country. Other than the chimpanzees, endangered mountain gorillas can be seen in the country. With a rough estimate of about 700 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, they can only be found in Uganda, DR Congo, and Rwanda. A visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or the more popular Bwindi Impenetrable National Park will give you an ecstatic experience with the mountain gorillas. Almost half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi.

Rafting

Jinja is a town anyone would consider the “armpits” of Uganda due to its vast industries and other economic activities that have made this side of the Pearl of Africa to be a buzz. It is also well-known for the river Nile. The town is the source of the Nile River as this is where Lake Victoria lets its water out into the Nile. If you want to enjoy the best and first-class rafting, then you can’t fail to go to Jinja. With the Nile being verified here as one of the top 5 rivers, you will be offered with the best water rafting experiences indeed.

The Switzerland of Africa

Journey southwest from Kampala to a little town called Kisoro to experience some beautiful landscapes which include lakes, cultivated terraces, bamboo forests, a tropical rainforest, hills, and mountains. The most important thing you need when touring Uganda is an open mind as the country has very bad roads. You should, therefore, expect to be taken through shortcuts.

Ugandan Cuisine

There can never be a fan without food. As someone said that there is no love sincerity that supersedes the love for food, Uganda is an eating country. I say that Uganda is an eating country because of how readily available food is. In comparison with most countries where snacks are hawked in public transport vehicles, in Uganda, “five-course” meals are served.

The cuisine consists of modern as well as traditional dishes and cooking styles as well as practices. The cuisine features Asian, Arab and English influences thus variant in complexities ranging from the very basic roasted banana all the way to starchy filler in a sauce of meat or legumes. Since Uganda is a multi-tribe country, you expect a wide range of staples throughout the country with the main dish being the banana stew locally known as Matoke. Others are yams, arrow roots, vegetables, potatoes, tropical fruits, chicken and fresh fish.

An interesting unique dish commonly found in the Northern Uganda is vegetable stew in sesame or peanut sauce. This is taken with Kuon (Ugali-in Swahili), which is a carefully prepared bread-like food from maize, millet, sorghum or/and cassava flour. In Uganda, there are 101 ways of cooking bananas so come prepared to taste something unique you had never imagined you would ever taste.

Conclusion

There is a reason why Uganda was called the Pearl of Africa during its independence. The country is rich in resources and culture. In fact, the entire Africa has been condensed in this tiny east African country. It is very unlikely that there is something in Africa which misses in Uganda. This should be your next destination.

Best Dubai Vacation

“People don’t take Trips. Trips take People”. That is exactly what this desert city does to you. If you can think of a desert which has transformed itself marvellously and effortlessly into a place the world could never have dreamt of, it has to be Dubai. At first, Dubai appears like a vast expanse of desert broken only by huge hills. A second later you scramble to readjust your vision, as a glass and steel metropolis unfolds itself like a shimmering mirage in the Arabian Desert. For most of us the UAE is synonymous to Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts. An ideal place to vacation with your family as it provides all types of entertainment you are seeking.  The city remains architecturally and geographically unparalleled. Modernity and antiquity collide into this vibrant city. This is the best Dubai vacation.

If you are planning to spend a few days in Dubai be ready to visit a lot of places. Get your itinerary straight so that you can have a planned and hassle-free sight-seeing experience. The first day in Dubai, make sure to go for the Desert Safari. It will be the best part of this trip as it includes the best of Dubai. From dune bashing in the deserts to camel rides, trying out Arabian clothes, sipping on Arabic coffee, devouring Arabic dates, enjoying the famous Shisha (flavoured hookah), the night ends with a lip-smacking buffet dinner, a mind-blowing Jambura dance and a scintillating belly dance performance.

The next morning you can visit the Dubai’s landmark building, Burj Khalifa, which is at 829.8 meters and the tallest building in the world. For most visitors, a trip to the observation deck on the 124th floor here is a must-do while in the city. The views across the city skyline from this bird’s-eye perspective are just overwhelming. The 360-degree views out across the skyscrapers to the desert on one side and the ocean on the other. You could go either at sunrise or sunset to witness the various avatars of Dubai city while in light or in darkness with lights glittering the city all over. You should also visit the Burj Al-Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, standing 321 meters high on its own artificial island on the Dubai coastline. For those without unlimited credit, you can opt for dinner at the underwater Al-Mahara restaurant, which allows you to view sea life while you eat delicious Californian food.

For the remaining vacation days, it is best recommended to enrol into a hop on hop off bus tour like City Sightseeing, Big Bus and many local bus services. This way you get to see a lot of places without paying for cabs. Start your day by visiting the famous Jumeirah Mosque which is the most beautiful mosques in Dubai and a fine example of Islamic architecture. This stone structure is built in the medieval Fatimid tradition. A program consists of tours, lectures, Arabic classes, and cultural meals to extend better understanding of Muslim faith.

Plan a day to visit places like The Dubai Mall which is the city’s premier mall and provides entry to the Burj Khalifa as well as the Dubai Aquarium. The Dubai Aquarium houses 140 species of sea life in the huge suspended tank on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall. You can walk through the aquarium tunnels.at the Underwater Zoo. Different activities help you get a closer look at the sea life. Glass bottom boat tours are particularly popular. Cage snorkelling and shark diving activities are also on offer. There is also an ice-skating rink, gaming zone and cinema complex. But the main attraction here is The Dancing Dubai Fountain Show. It is a synchronized water movement that is brilliantly choreographed to a wonderful musical soundtrack and goes 500 feet above.

For history fanatics, the Dubai Fort is a must-watch. The fort’s walls are built out of traditional coral-blocks and held together with lime and the courtyard is home to several traditional boats and a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind-tower.

Walk down the narrow lanes of Bastakia (Old Dubai), highly reminiscent of a bygone, and much slower, age in Dubai’s history. Bastakia occupies the eastern portion of Bur Dubai along the creek, and the coral and limestone buildings here, many with walls topped with wind-towers, have been excellently preserved. The Dubai’s architectural, cultural, and maritime heritage is showcased at the Heritage and Diving Village, with displays related to pearl diving and dhow building, two of old Dubai’s historic economic mainstays. Dubai Creek separates the city into two towns with Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Boat tours and ship cruises on the creek gives a spectacular waterline view of Dubai.

For the shopaholics, the Deira lies on the northern bank of Dubai Creek. Deira is most famous for its traditional souks (markets), which bustle with shoppers at all times of the day. Deira Gold Souk is world-renowned as the largest gold bazaar in the world. The Deira Spice Souk sells every imaginable spice like paprika, saffron, sumac, thyme and much more.

Take your family to the awesome Dubai beaches and amusement parks. Jumeirah Beach is a strip of sandy white bliss and the number one beach destination for Dubai visitors. Hotels are strung out all along its length, with this being one of the most popular places to stay for tourists. The beach has excellent facilities, with plenty of sun loungers, restaurants, and water-sport operators offering jet skiing. South of Jumeirah beach is the Kite beach. It is renowned as Dubai’s premier destination for kite surfers and is home to an array of water sports operators.

While IMG World of adventure is about Marvel cartoon characters and rides, Wild Wadi and Aquaventure waterpark at the Palm Atlantis is all about adrenaline-rushing water rides. Bollywood Parks brings the world of India’s famous movie industry alive on its rides, and Legoland Dubai provides younger visitors with a fun-packed day out on its interactive rides. So, you have a whole lot of places to give your kids the best time of their lives.

For staying in Dubai, hotel prices start from 350 AED with a breakfast menu. The tickets to waterparks, amusement parks tickets cost 300 AED approx. Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab tickets start from around 130 to 500 AED. You will find very good restaurants in Dubai but the rates are on the higher side. So, it is best advised to plan a detailed itinerary according to your budget and stick to it.

Dubai is one of the most popular destinations in the world for holidays and tours and there are millions of travellers visiting the city every year. Shopping festivals, culinary delights, loads of adventure and much more is all entitled on your Dubai vacation. Whether you are visiting with family or friends, a vacation in Dubai will make you want to travel here again. Plan your next trip to this destination and revel in the marvellous man-made wonderstruck city Dubai.

Romantic Cruise to Nusa Lembongan

Bali is without a doubt one of the best wedding destinations in the world. However, it is where and how to get there is the most crucial decision that will lead to either a memorable or disaster honeymoon ever. A romantic cruise honeymoon getaway to Bali’s neighboring islands can be an option. There are a number of companies in Bali offering honeymoon cruise packages leading to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and the Gillis Islands. As much as there is a lot to enjoy and appreciate in these islands, the main romance must always be accorded while you are on the sail.

romantic cruise to nusa lembonganIdeally, most of the cruise packages available start with a breakfast before set out for the waters. This is more so the case in luxury cruises. And of course, for the honeymooners, you can expect to go the luxury way. Inside these vessels is fine comfort and sophistication. All the amenities are luxurious, starting with the washrooms, all the way to the ambience of the catering tables. In a normal vessel, there should be some tables for different groups with the possibility of offering a provision for bigger group eating on a single table. Enjoy your romantic cruise with drinks and music that blends with the stunning sea views. And because it is your honeymoon, everything is tailor-made as your request. Special décor, custom prepared cakes, flower arrangements together with other delightful ways are provided for anyone to give their significant other a surprise of their lives. Remember that you really want to pour your heart to your loved one during this cruise. Be assured of getting the real surprise of your life.

Lembongan is a village that anyone would easily spend the whole day in, admiring and appreciating the on goings in an ideal island village. The village has so much in store for you to do and see, yet it is such a small island indeed. Doing a village tour is a must-as this, imprints in your mind the best sense of what an ideal village life looks like on tropical islands.

Catching with the peaceful and quiet early morning ceremonies of Nusa Lembongan ensures you start your day on a high note. And along the main street of the island are a number of shops with some of them selling fresh fruits and super strong coffee, which you can give it a try with your loved one as you head downwards to the seaweed farms. Seaweed farming can easily be concluded as the hardest job within the island as it is tide reliant.

So many things can be done or seen on this island. This includes diving, visiting the underground village house and sailing between the islands. You can also just enjoy the stunning beach views. If you opt for luxury packages, your day’s trip will include total access to private beach. For accommodation, staying at Hai Tide Beach Resort can be another journey to meet people to exchange stories of this beautiful island. In the evening, enjoy the best part by the poolside as you get ready to be in touch with a romantic diner in the hotel. A pool-side romantic dinner is a great option for the two of you and the experience is one worth spending some extra ducks on.

Don’t let dreams be dreams. And when it comes to expressing love, the sky is the limit. To have a luxury experience doesn’t always end up with high budget that will hurt your pocket. You can create your own luxury moment with your own style.

An important note to remember for safety and comfort purposes, when having such cruises, wear as limited jewelry as possible, wear tight tropical clothes, head wear, swimwear, and sunshade and apply sunscreen & UV protection. Also be in flip-flops or sandals for wet landing.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Roving the great lakes of Bali

Bali is known for its achingly beautiful scenery and landscapes; an exploration into which is a spiritually awakening experience for many. Spending time in ‘natural Bali’ is filled with peace and tranquility, giving people the perfect environment to ponder life and widen their horizons as an individual. Besides the island’s beautiful underwater world, white sand beaches and unique culture, Bali hides a reservoir of beauty and charm that are often forgotten; these are the great lakes of Bali. These majestic lakes are well worth your time and effort, as they showcase the beauty of Bali that lies beyond the coast. Make sure your cameras are ready for what is truly a visual feast.

Lake Bratan

Let’s begin the adventure in central Bali with a visit to Lake Bratan. Situated in a crater of an inactive volcano, Mount Catur, Lake Bratan is the second largest lake in Bali and is back dropped by the majesty of Mount Bratan. Located in Bali’s central highlands of Bedugul, this lake is a favourite tourist attraction. Its high altitude allows visitors to enjoy respite from the hot and humid weather. The surrounding area is a natural spectacle offering splendid views of mountains and greenery. The lake is surprisingly shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 metres. Irises of numerous colours – yellow, fuchsia and magenta – dot the edge of the lake. The misty peak of dormant Mount Catur looms above.

Found around the lake are three 25-metre-deep caves excavated by the invading Japanese during World War II. There are also a few shrines worth exploring in the vicinity of Lake Bratan. Another popular sight is Bukit Mungsu Market (or Pasar Bukit Mungsu), located in Candi Kuning. Visitors can buy a variety of fresh spices, including nutmeg and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. Due to the cool weather there, you can also pick strawberries on the fields, a unique find considering Bali’s tropical climate.

There are so many activities you can do around the area. The surrounding mountains are popular destinations for hiking and trekking, offering routes of various levels of difficulty. Water sports lovers will rejoice with the abundance of water activities available. Rides on pedal boats, speedboats or traditional boats known as jukung are all available. Other types of water sports that you can enjoy include water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and paddle sports. Swimming is permitted, of course, only if you can stand the cold waters!

Lake Bratan is considered to be the most holy lake in Bali, as it is a home to one of the most famous temples, the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which dates back to stories told in Balinese mythology. This beautiful 17th century temple of Ulun Danu, which appears to float on the water, is dedicated to worship Dewi Danu or the Lake Goddess. Offerings are made at the temple on special festive occasions, as it is believed this will bring economic prosperity to the area.

The lake is a very important source of irrigation for many farms and rice paddies in the Bedugul region. Because of its surrounding temperatures and irrigation system, the area around Lake Bratan is blessed with high fertility, and for that reason Lake Bratan is also known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain.

It takes around 2-hours to drive from Denpasar to Candi Kuning Village, Baturiti district, Tabanan, where the lake lies.

Lake Batur

Lake Batur is Bali’s largest and widest lake with an area of approximately 18 square kilometres. The large crescent shaped lake sits within the old caldera of Mount Batur and is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim, with an active volcano of Mount Batur adjacent to it. Located in the mountainous area of the Bangli Regency on the southeastern side of the Batur caldera, the lake lies at the feet of two majestic surrounding mountains, Mount Batur and Mount Abang. The crater is situated approximately 500 meters above sea level, and a couple of hot springs can be seen surrounding the lake with one in the middle of the lake. The water is much cooler than the other lakes in Bali. Try to dip your fingers while boating in this lake to feel how amazingly cold (but fresh!) the water is.

On the journey to the lake via Bangli or Tampaksiring, the ashy residues and active hot springs reveal its volcanic history. As you get closer and continue over the last ridge, the massive outlining of the crater becomes visible; expect a large smile to peel across your face when you encounter this moment. You can continue along the road from Penelokan, it continues right around the rim towards Kintamani to circle around the crater. The majestic and spectacular view of Lake Batur can also be viewed from Kintamani.

The only boat access to the lake is through the Trunyan village, home to the Bali Aga people. These local indigenous inhabitants are true descendants of native Balinese and have been isolated from the other inhabitants on other parts of the island. They communicate in an ancient form of the Balinese language and to date still practice ancient traditional Balinese culture and religion. An interesting part of their culture is that when one of their tribesmen dies, they are neither cremated nor buried, but laid under a sacred tree, the Taru Menyan, inside their open air cemetery. The members of the tribe believe that roots and the branches of this sacred tree helps to mask and remove the odour of the rotting, decomposing bodies.

Lake Buyan

Lake Buyan is one of Bali’s unexposed and untouched attractions. Located in Pancasari Village, in Sukasada District, Buleleng Regency, the lake spans approximately 4.5 square kilometres just below the northern rim of the Bedugul caldera. Situated in a plateau region characterised by generally very wet and cool climates, Lake Buyan is surrounded by lush vegetation, featuring fog and cool air, which allows one to appreciate the authenticity of nature’s wonders. The sight of it alone has wonderfully soothing effects that help to temporarily take away the stress of daily life.

Getting to this lake is a bit tricky, involving a 3-hour drive from Denpasar and following the road winding up the hill, where you can see an increasing number of monkeys, before you arrive at the junction on the top of the hill. Turn left at this junction and continue to follow the quiet asphalt road which leads you to the lake.

A community pool, known as Telaga Aya, is connected to the lake via a narrow canal. Telaga Aya is located between the lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan, which are separated by a forest-covered hill. At the top of the hill, Asah Gobleg village is the primary vantage point with panoramic views of both lakes and the surrounding area. Make sure to get your perfect selfie with the lake in the background from the lookout at Asah Gobleg Village on the trek down to the lake.

Encircled by coffee and clove plantations, Lake Buyan has a camping site at its southern edge with the ground being flat there. However, the most common activities are boating or fishing. Hiking or trekking is doable, but best done with local guides, granting scenic views of the landscape. For those who are into mediation and yoga, Lake Buyan offers a perfectly peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for such activities. Nature lovers and eco-tourists should find the entire area as a whole an ideal getaway. With limited tourist activities and the absence of human intervention, Lake Buyan still maintains its natural, intact ecosystem through protection of its fragile environment and promoting eco-tourism.

Lake Tamblingan

Lake Buyan is closely related to Lake Tamblingan in terms of location and ecosystem, and therefore both lakes are generally referred to as Bali’s Twin Lakes. An interesting fact is that Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan used to be one whole lake until a landslide separated them in around the year 1800. Now they are separated by a ride almost 2 kilometres wide.

Lake Tamblingan exudes a mystical appeal and charm, with some regarding it as having the most unspoilt natural scenery in comparison to Lake Bratan or Lake Buyan. The lake is located in the heart of Bali’s farming area and the slopes are covered with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and rice paddies. Its official location is on the north slope of Mount Lesung, Munduk Village area, Buleleng Regency, about 3 hours from Denpasar. You will have the best experience just driving to this place with the cool wind blowing on your face and the feeling of pure, clean air all around you. It is advisable to pull over for a few photographs or have a small picnic by the road.

The entire lake area is protected land within the 4356- acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is a major reason that both Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan have become increasingly popular with mountain trekkers, adventure seekers, bird watchers and eco-tourists. And since the lake is located at such great heights, you will find that it is mostly covered in fog that casts a beautiful spell on tourists and locals alike. The depth of the lake and reflection of the surrounding trees creates gorgeous hues of blue, green and grey that shimmer across the water’s surface like a palette of paints.

Though motorized boating is not available on this lake, you can rent a rowing boat or bring along your kayaks to explore further. Fishing is also permitted. You can opt for a jungle tour, which involves crossing the sacred Tamblingan Lake by an old-style, hollow canoe. Near Lake Tamblingan, visitors can perform activities, like trekking in the tropical forest with a variety of distances, with trips ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The idea is to spend quality time in and around the lake, and absorb its breathtaking beauty.

There are a few sights worth visiting in the vicinity: numerous temples can be found on the outskirts of Lake Tamblingan, and the most popular one is Gubug Temple. This water temple, which uses the traditional ‘Subak’ irrigation system at the edge of the lake, is a must visit place if you are around the neighbourhood. It retains much of the architectural design, as Ulun Danu Temple, but is less crowded, offering you good photo-taking opportunities.

If you plan to explore ‘real Bali’ a bit more, these four lakes offer history, culture and nature in one experience. Nourish your soul in their stunning scenery, relax at the lakeside hot springs, stroll in the beautiful local villages, take a tour of the exotic plantations, or camp in the mountains and dense jungles. Very rightly said, that Bali is a true treasure trove of natural beauty. Why not see for yourself.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

An epic experience at Universal Studio Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a hot destination for families, group of friends, couples, or school-college trips. It is a destination for anyone who is looking forward to enter a whole new world and spend a day filled with adventure and excitement. The first and only Universal Studio theme park in Southeast Asia set up in the stunning Sentosa Island. It is meticulously designed to give you the best theme park experience in the world.

Universal Studios Singapore is categorically split into 7 major theme parks. Step onto “Hollywood Boulevard” framed by dynamic architecture, palm trees and the famous Walk of Fame, you will feel as if you have landed in the center of the entertainment universe. One inside “New York”, feel the spirit and energy of America’s biggest and grandest city as you stroll along the sidewalks and enjoy all the classic landmarks. Soak in the impressive city skylines, neon lights, and facades that set the scenes for big city fun and real-time movie production. For the science-freaks, the city of the future has arrived. Walk into “Sci-Fi-City” and experience the ultimate intergalactic battle of Good versus Evil, and visit a vibrant metropolis with all the ultimate modern conveniences. If you have always wished to explore the mysteries and legends of Egypt, then “Ancient Egypt” is definitely the place to be explored. Ancient pyramids and obelisks stand fast against the sands of time as you are transported to 1930’s Egypt, the Golden Age of Egyptian Exploration. Travel to an era when entire Pharaohs tombs were discovered, and their terrible curses unleashed. If you are a big fan of Steven Spielberg and his Jurassic Park movies, then the “Lost World” is your place. Divided into two themed areas, “Jurassic Park” and “WaterWorld”, this zone is for fans of the two blockbuster movies, as they can experience a dense tropical forest where dinosaurs lurk, then watch death defying stunts filled with thrills and spills. Especially designed for children “Far Far Away” the kids are exported to a world of talking movie stars, donkeys and other fairy tale animals. “Madagascar” which is based on the hit DreamWorks Animation film, brings you to a dense tropical jungle, filled with strange and wonderful animals like lemurs and foosas. Junior Roller Coaster rides, Ferris Wheel, Live Donkey Shows, 4-D Shrek movies, Beach Party Carousel, Boat-Rides ensures your kids are thoroughly entertained.

You may also want to explore the world beyond the screen and Ride the Movies by experiencing cutting-edge rides, shows, and attractions based on your favourite blockbuster films and television series like Puss in Boots, Giant Journey, Battlestar Galactica, Transformers The Ride, Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure, Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase, and much more.

On special events like Halloween, Christmas, or New Year, a lot of rides and movies are upgraded to match the festive season and get you into the mood. You can be a part of these fun parties and enjoy till you drop in the Universal Studios experience.

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

True Beauty in the Eyes of North Bali Nature

“He who has stopped travelling, has stopped living.” I guess that quote really stands up when it comes to exploring Bali. It is almost impossible to get bored and feel monotonous living in Bali. For the true explorers who are on the continuous quest for new discoveries, this island is an ideal place to satiate that hunger. Waterfalls, beach, crater lakes, paddy fields, vineyards, North Bali gives you no chance to complaint. Being the greenest area of Bali, North Bali also provides a diverse set of tourist spots to explore.

Where to go

For all those who cannot resist of going to the ocean, Lovina Beach is the only destination in the North Bali. Characterised by calm waves and side-lined by coconut trees, it is visited by all those who crave for relaxation. Lovina is sun-drenched, with patches of shade from palm trees. The tourist area stretches over 8 kilometres, and consists of a string of coastal villages – Kaliasem, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukad Mungga – collectively known as Lovina. A short drive from the black sand beach of Lovina, those who are keen into architecture can visit The Royal Palace of Singaraja, which depicting royal grandeur and majestic European buildings.

If you need to pacify your soul, Pura Ponjok Batu can be an alternative. Meaning Stone Cape, this ancient, spiritual place owes its uniqueness to a rock promontory, which from the crevices of rocks grows frangipani trees and shrubs that grows artistically. This Hindu temple is used for praying to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. For Buddhist, praying at the Brahma Vihara Arama is a must. Located at Tegehe Village, this biggest Buddhist temple in Bali rises majestically overlooking Lovina Beach with lush green hill as a background. Painted with colorful decorations, this place is also a perfect place for relaxation while admiring the beautiful buildings and surroundings.

Soaking in the healing waters of a natural hot spring is the most effective way to relax in nature, and a quick visit to one of the island’s most popular hot springs can be a solution. Located in the Banjar Village, with lush, jungle-clad slopes surrounding the sacred area, Banjar Hot Spring consists of hot ponds filled with warm water. The sulphuric water, which believed to cure skin diseases, spills from the mouths of some stone-carved mythical dragon into three pools at a tempting temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. The presence of brimstones in the water lends the healing property for various skin diseases, which explain why the place is known as the “Magical waters of Bali”.

One of the most famous waterfalls of north Bali is Gitgit Waterfall. Located in the plateau area with the height about 35 metres, the waterfall is surrounded by tropical trees with some plantations protecting the rain forest around it.

The forest lovers will be treated well at the Lemukih village, which lies in the northern slope of the island at an altitude of 638 metres above sea level. It is dotted by gorgeous rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations, making it ideal for those who want to stroll around and explore deeper into Balinese lifestyle. Encircled by green forests and mountains, Lemukih provides a rather picturesque view. The dense tropical rain-forests are a perfect spot for trekking. It is characterised by 3 beautiful, gushing waterfalls which start at different heights. The water is cool and clean and pours out from the greenery above. The pounding sound of water falling and splashing creates a much desired tranquillity all around.

The wine lovers can enjoy the North Bali by visiting the vineyard of Hatten Wines. Situated between the towns of Seririt and Pemuteran, this place offers wine tasting and exploring experience. The Hatten Wines winery is a modern state of the art facility, bottling over 50000 bottles of wine each day. Like most places, Bali also has its own cultural drink called Tuak, universally known as palm wine. It is a milky fermented alcohol made from the sap of palm trees. It has a sour taste, and a strong burn as you swallow. It is available for purchase in some restaurants and shops and should be tried by every wine lover to know the rustic flavour of Bali.

What to do

Apart from the terrific sceneries to gape at, North Bali provides loads of activities to indulge in. The Kalimudah canyon is the next best thing for sporting Canyoning destination. In this activity, you will come across two different sections. The first section is a sequence of water slides, jumps and short rappels with glorious gorges made of volcanic rock, sulphurate water basin that come out from the underground. The second part is sportier, including swimming, floating, enchanting rappel descents along the waterfall and jumps up to 10 metres high.

Another rewarding activity is undoubtedly dolphin watching at Lovina. There is a certain ecstasy to waking up at sunrise, walking to the beach, finding a local boatman and embarking on an adventure. In no time the dolphins appear in pods of ten to literally hundreds. Some mornings, they even put on a full dolphin show with backflips, massive jumps and sometimes even tail-walking.

For trekking lovers, North Bali provides more than enough jungle treks. Trekking at Lemukih Village is a rare and unique opportunity to experience the traditional culture and the beautiful nature. You can trek all the way to temples, rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations. If you want to burn more energies, follow a track with stone steps that winds down for about 90 meters to the waterfalls of Leimukh through jungles and rivers. If that’s still not enough and you feel like experiencing more of the wild rainforest, the beautifully crafted nests of Bali’s central highlands will make the trek to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan memorable. Covered by fog most of the times, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of extinct Bedugul volcano. You can also set a camp near the lakes.

Trekking along the vineyard can also be a part of your itinerary, and therefore a visit to Welcome Center & Observation Deck of Hatten Wines vineyards is an option. The Alphonse Lavallee grapes is grown locally in most Balinese vineyards, producing very tasty wine. Your trip will start with a quick walking tour of the vineyard. The tour will include a lesson in wine making, grape picking, and a visit at Hatten Wine’s laboratory. Finally, the activity you have been waiting for… wine tasting!

The magnificence of North Bali is just endless and gets even better with more exploration. With adrenaline pumping activities to lazing around in beach and strolling across paddy fields, this northern part of the island leaves no stone unturned to satisfy every ounce of your soul. A perfect region to distress one’s mind and body, North Bali truly captivates the heart and soul.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

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Take Your Coming Vacation to Nairobi, Kenya

Derived from a native community (Maasai) language “Enkanye Nyorobi,” Nairobi means a place of cool waters. True to its name, the city indeed a cool place. With a cool set up, there are numerous places where someone can visit during holidays in this city. Be sure to enjoy the local cuisine in some of the best restaurants in the region. In terms of accommodation, guesthouses are all over, with different hotels offering bed spaces for visitors.

Nairobi national park is one of the destinations that everyone must stop at. Many wild animals in this park that have been left to naturally interact with nature. You can expect to be face to face with lions, zebras, antelopes, baboons, monkeys among other animals at the park. There are a number of formidable tour guide companies that will always be ready to take you round.

The Nairobi arboretum is yet another place worth paying a visit. If you are a naturalist, this stop is a must. The arboretum is preserving thousands of plant species. This is therefore where you can learn some of the plants you know physically but can’t match them with their names. The cool breeze and calm environment within the arboretum makes it a great place to spend a picnic.

If you want to know more about the history of Kenya, then The Nairobi National Museum should be your next stop. The national museum offers education and leisure tourists an opportunity to learn the rich heritage of Kenya. Opened all days of the year, let your visit not be complete without you making a stop at this site that is located on the western sides of Nairobi referred to as Westlands. The museum houses celebrated collections of Kenya’s contemporary Art, nature, culture as well as history.

Next to Nairobi, you can find the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. A visit to this game reserve would be very prudent indeed. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is one of the few homes of all the big five animals, namely the African elephant, Cape buffalo, Rhino, African leopard and African Lion. This is just a tip of an iceberg as there are other hundreds and hundreds of species. Almost any animal that can be found in Africa will be found at the Mara. If you visit in July, you will be able to appreciate the great Wildebeest Migration from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara. In October, the Wildebeests migrate back to Serengeti. This is one of the great wonders of the world worth witnessing.

In Upper and Lower Hill regions of Nairobi are the spot where you can discover high rated hotels. These hotels have different ratings, hence different costs of accommodation to suit your pockets and class. Most of these guest houses have swimming pools, gyms for recreation, physical fitness, spas for body massage and general body wellness. Notwithstanding, there are other good hotels and guest rooms scattered all over the city.

And there is no Safari that can be complete without good food being served. In Nairobi, you have the opportunity of enjoying the Kenyan cuisine at its bests. Native vegetables, traditionally prepared are worth your taste. There is also the Ugali, a corn flour product that is the staple food of Kenya. Ugali can be served with any stew, mainly for lunch or dinner. Other foods include fish, beef, Irish potatoes and beans are prepared in different ways.

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Tibumana Waterfall – Feed your soul in solitude

Sometimes exploring the unknown has its own share of surprise and joy. Bali is a great place for the adventure seekers to discover loads of opportunities to explore around. Waterfall is one of the attraction to be discovered, and there are numerous beautiful waterfalls available in this island. Some of these waterfalls are still away from the realms of commercialism and chaos.

Tibumana waterfall is one such waterfall for the explorers. Located in Bangli region, just an hour drive from Ubud and two hours from Kuta, this waterfall is a serene spot for all those who want to enjoy the forest atmosphere. To reach here, it is recommended to bring someone who knows the area pretty well. A tour operator in downtown Kuta charges around IDR 400,000 for this single trip, including a car and an advanced driver. Optionally, you can always hire a scooter and navigate your way with a map, as this will be far more exciting. Bangli houses mountain lakes and water couches that make Bali so fertile. Numerous villages are scatted across a landscape of rice terraces, lush valley and forests. These will treat you well along the way until you reach at the destination.

At the car park, you will find a tiny shack where you need to pay IDR 10,000 as retribution fee. You then need to follow a winding path with stairs for around 15 minutes until you arrive at the waterfall. The pathway is so refreshingly beautiful. There are vines creeping down the cliffs and small, colourful butterflies flying around. The lush, green jungle is filled with the sweet chirping of birds. The air is crisp and clear. There is simplicity and purity all around the place.

As you approach the waterfall, the rumbling of the waterfall becomes more evident as you feel the place is getting cooler and breezier. The waterfall is a single one in the dry season, while in the monsoons you will find twin sheets of water splashing down from the hill. The cascading sheet of waterfall creates unrealistic prismatic formation of sun rays, giving the place a sense of being in a fairy tale. The entire place is enclosed in this green case of green ferns, mosses, vines, which makes you feel that you have entered a secret world away from the world you live in. Because of the enclosure, there is a pond at the end of the waterfall. The shades of the water are mesmerizing. Turquoise, sapphire like shades of the crystal clear water will just take your breath away.

Do carry your swimsuit or extra clothes. Take a refreshing swim in the waterfall and feel your senses invigorated. The water is no more than 6 feet deep, so diving is not an option. You can stand right underneath the waterfall and let the hydro pressure do wonders for your body pain and stress relief. The tranquillity is what draws people here, to idle for long hours of relaxation in solitude. It is one of those places where you want to come just to laze around and sit and marvel at nature’s beauty in isolation.

The entire area is very photogenic. Everything lends an artistic beauty to the waterfall. Be sure not to forget to bring your camera to capture all these beautiful moments. The fact that the place is not crowded, therefore you can strike wonderful poses in this little undisclosed place. Since a temple is situated nearby, you may find smoke remaining of offerings made to the waterfall for all the life it brings. Make sure not to litter the place with food and drinks.

Explore, relax and meditate. Isn’t that all is needed for the soul, once in a while?

About Bangli:

Bangli regency encompasses great natural vista of the island, with scenic roads of rugged hillocks, woody ravines and giant bamboo forest overtaking its trail. And for this reason, while you are in Tibumana, you may want to explore around to check on some places. You can pay a visit to Apuan Falls and the famous Penglipuran village. The trees here are so enormous that it could block the sunlight even in the noon, added more to its mystical atmosphere.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

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Kids and the Animals Bonding in Bali

The bond between kids and animals is one of the most fundamental bonds to ever be witnessed. The health and wellbeing of both the animals and kids is boosted a great deal by this interaction. Though adults may also love animals, the amounts of time they can dedicate to these creatures can’t never be compared to the time the kids spend with the animals they love most. Some of the benefits the children may get from loving animals are to learn to be responsible by taking care of them while at the same time to study nature as the great textbook in the zoos, thus this will gain the much needed knowledge and life skills.

In Bali, the wants of children as far as nature and animal studies are concerned has highly been considered. As a result, there are a number of parks that the kids can visit to continue fostering the powerful two-way animal children relationship.

Bali Zoo

Starting in December, perfectly in time for festive season, visitors of Bali Zoo will be greeted with a unique warm welcome from the friendly herd of deer. Situated within the areal of Bali Zoo’s entrance, Bali Deer Park spans over 4,700 meter squares of lush tropical garden, a home to thirty-four Sitatunga deer, eighteen Timor deer, and six wallabies. Guests are welcome to touch, feel, play and feed the free roaming gracious deer while queuing to purchase the entrance tickets.

Walking through Bali Deer Park, visitors’ sights will be indulged with manicured garden offering contemporary feel park that features natural plantations, such as palm oil, banana trees, and other floras that one can only be found in the tropics. The park also features a number of water fountains to soothe the sensory journey into nature.

Bali Deer Park is designed as part of Bali Zoo commitment to offer unique wildlife experiences for the visitors, as they are expected to feel nature’s warm welcome from the moment their first step foot on the zoo’s ground.

Jalan Raya Singapadu, Banjar Seseh, Sukawati, Batuan, Gianyar

+62 361 294357

Bali Safari & Marine Park

Bali Safari & Marine Park has forever been a park that dedicates efforts in encouraging children to be in love with the natural environment thus striving to preserve it to the best of their abilities. Such commitment can be seen by having programmes for kids, and Tiny Paws World is one of them. This activity introduces participants to the park keepers to gain the first-hand experience of what it is like to work with the animals. This programme also provides the opportunity to feed and handle some of the animals while learning about their care and feeding.

This unique and exciting animal experience includes helping the park keepers to prep the favourite food for the animals, learning about the animals from the dedicated park keepers, learning how to groom a horse, and learning about the challenges of becoming a veterinarian. The kids are also offered the chance of joining a motorized Safari tour, which carries them on secured, slow moving vehicles navigating through the homes of animals of India, Indonesia and Africa. Children get the precious opportunity of appreciating encounter programs such as the Elephant Educational Show and the Predator to Prey Shows among others.

After having an educational day out in the natural environment, a playing session is mandatory. Children are released to jump up and down in the Park’s Petting as they get a chance of assisting in the Pony’s grooming. The day of fantasy continues with the little ones being allowed free access to an array of amusement park rides that are positioned in the Fun Zone of the park.

Jalan Bypass Prof Ida Bagus Mantra, Gianyar

+62 361 95000

Bali Bird Park

This is the best place where children are provided with unrivalled opportunity to learn more about birds. Special events are frequently sponsored by the park, to increase the awareness of adults and children alike of the threats faced by wildlife in this era. While in the park, the children will be able to learn and have an experience of about a thousand different birds of 250 species within just a single day. There is probably no other park in the entire world that can offer such a high number of species to their researchers.

Expect to feed the pelicans, the Papua rainforest bird, the lory, and the birdstars among others. To have a practical experience with the geography learnt in school, school children will afford to interact with the rainforest in the park, a rainforest that has been preserved from much disturbance. The kids mostly enjoy birds when they are freely interacting in their natural habitat than when they are confined in cages.

Jalan Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan, Gianyar

+62 361 299352

Bali Butterfly Park

As a centre for butterfly breeding, preservation and research, Bali Butterfly Park is one unique place where the little ones can come to have an experience with the mystery of nature while the parents come to do their research. The park has dedicated its time and resources to ensure that one can be able to see almost all the famous birdwing butterflies in the region. It is no question that butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures in nature and are really loved by children more than any other age group in the society.

At Bali Butterfly Park, the children explore what they can’t get from anywhere else as this is the largest butterfly park in the Southeast Asia. The park is established in 1996 and arguably among nature’s riches, having almost all the butterflies that can be found in every corner of Indonesia and even beyond. The rare encounter with the endemic butterfly species will surely not disappoint the children.

While on their expeditions in the park, the children can take breaks to enjoy beverages and snacks at the mini restaurant in the park. And to have a memory of the place, souvenirs are available at the Souvenir Art shop.

Jalan Batukaru, Banjar Sandan Lebah, Wanasari Village, Tabanan,

+62 361 8940595

Elephant Safari Park

How about visiting live a group of Sumatran Elephants in the north of Ubud? These giant herds take pleasure breathing fresh air and indulging the cool, humid climate far away from the busy live. In Elephant Safari Park, children will get the opportunity to feed these giant mammals with the food provided in the park, with no extra charge. They are also welcome to meet and greet with the baby elephants at their nursery. To supply more information about elephants, Elephant Discovery Museum is available to provide the information related with elephants from different continents. Elephant Art Gallery is the newest addition in this museum, featuring adorable paintings, unique statues and valuable carvings.

Elephant ride is of course the main reason why kids want to go to this park. The elephant ride takes the passenger for a tour along the track built amidst the locals’ owned plantation and jungle. The beauty of the nature as well as the fresh air will be the additional benefit in this activity. After the ride, lunch at the restaurant is a must, while keep getting distracted by the view of the elephants playing in a lake or roaming around the park.

Jalan Elephant Safari Park, Taro Village, Tegallalang, Gianyar

+62 361 8988888

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

A Departure to The East Side of Bali

Away from the tourist-packed, chaotic, happening places of Bali lies a mystical land. Quite forgotten by everyone, Eastern Bali is a world in itself. The black sand beaches, spill down mountains, gigantic volcanoes, ancient temples, lush rice terraces offer nothing less than tranquillity and food for the soul. For all those who wish to spend a day or two in the arms of nature, exploring the rich historical heritage of Bali, basking in the natural sensations of the volcanic mountains and crystalline beaches and absorbing the traditional lifestyle in the typical Balinese villages, a trip to the Eastern Bali is compulsory. Let’s travel to east Bali.

There are loads of places to explore in Eastern Bali. In order to enrich your spiritual value, Goa Lawah Temple can be an option. Located in the Pesinggahan Village, around 2-hour distance from Denpasar city, this temple is built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats, and hence called the ‘Bat Cave’. In the centre, you will see Shivaite shrine, thousands of year old together with a bale adorned with the motifs of Balinese mythical dragon. The huge banyan trees keep the atmosphere in the temple cool and breezy, and will make you feel refreshed instantly. Another worth visiting temple in the east of Bali is the ancient Besakih Temple, which also known as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’. Over 1,000 years, it sits 1,000 metres high on the south-western slopes of Mount Agung. The high location of Mount Agung gives the temple a mystical quality. Besakih Temple features three temples dedicated to the Hindu trinity Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. You will witness a cluster of temples and shrines, each having their own story and uniqueness.

Bali is considered to be an all year diving destination for the diving enthusiasts. As the famous diving spot, Tulamben comprises of a black sand slope with a thousand-year-old shipwreck and coral gardens. It contains a stunningly diverse underwater ecosystem, and therefore the main dive sites offer different physical environments. The wreck is humongous and a fantastic playground to explore, while you can also find the rare pygmy seahorse in the area. It is the perfect place for underwater photography. Amed is another famous diving spot for soul and body relaxation. Gear up your diving suits to explore the underwater flora and fauna. The teeming marine life here includes various tropical fish, sea turtle, reef tip shark, rays and vibrant coral gardens. You can also spot the traditional Balinese wooden boats called ‘Jukung’ available for fishing charters.

For the beach-goers, the recommended beaches in the east of Bali would be Bias Tugel Beach and Candidasa Beach. Located very close to Padang Bai Port, Bias Tugel Beach is also known as the Secret Beach. You have to walk through a fairly steep and rocky terrain to reach the white sandy beach. The clean water allows you to dive or snorkel to see the beautifully coloured coral reefs and various ornamental fish. Travelling further along the eastern coast of Bali, you will spot Candidasa Beach. This beach offers a tropical climate with thriving coconut trees, perfect spot to unwind. The wind mixed with the smell of the ocean, and the scent of the trees creates an intoxicating perfume. If you are carrying a picnic bag, you may want to stop by and relax for a few hours.

The trekking addicts have a lot of mysterious and adventure spots to explore in the east part of the island. Kintamani is the most favourite trekking destination. The magnificent view of the Batur caldera lake serves as the main attraction, surrounded by the captivating Mount Batur range. In no time you will feel yourself sinking in the beauty of Lake Batur, Kintamani highlands and the fascinating coffee plantations. While at the foot of Mount Abang, you can choose to trek up through dense tropical forests. The trek is considered to be a pilgrim to top of the high spirited atmosphere. The view from the top is simply breath-taking with cloud hovering over the lake and the volcanic cone of Batur on one side, and Mount Agung along with a magnificent shoreline on the other. If you are one of those serious hikers, you could consider taking the trek to Mount Agung.

For those who want to spend their day enhancing their knowledge on the local culture and lifestyle, Ujung Water Palace will bring you closer to Bali’s historical heritage. This famous palace consists of large pools and historic structures set against a backdrop of Mount Agung and the eastern shoreline. You will be fascinated by the blend of Balinese and European architecture. The whole park covering an approximate 10 hectares of land gives you enough space to stroll around and marvel at the ancient structures. While on the historical journey, make sure to visit Tirta Gangga. On entering the site, the first thing you will notice is a pond where rows of guardian figures holding cudgels are neatly arranged. The polygonal stepping stones will allow you to tour on the pond. The huge towering fountains, marvellous ancient springs and huge banyan trees will be a cool retreat in the humid afternoon. The Klungklung Palace in Semarapura can be another famous historic attraction in the east. The palace includes a floating pavilion, main gates and the court of justice. You will be amazed by the paintings that lead up to the ceiling. The grounds are easily walkable and absolutely gorgeous. In the floating pavilion, you would find Balinese artists creating wonderful paintings.

If you are keen to blend with the locals, Sidemen Village would be perfect for strolling around lazily. Located near Besaikh Temple, this village will feed you well with lush, green paddy fields, river valleys and wild pastures, all nestled along the slopes of Mount Agung. Take a walk in the rice fields and interact with the villagers to understand their lifestyle closely.

The Eastern part of Bali has lots to offer, both to the eyes and to the soul. You can choose from an array of mountains, temples, beaches, paddy fields or royal palaces, and plan the itinerary yourself. The list is so exhaustive that it is impossible even for a local person to visit all paces in one go. So, either you are a tourist or a local resident, Bali will never stop to amaze you. “The more you read, the more you will Know. The more you Learn, the more places you will go.”

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine