Adventure in Bali
Tourists don’t flock to the north of Bali, and even less wander so far to Sekumpul. It’s understandable, due to the long hike down, and even longer hike up the mountain side. The absence of tourists makes it even more breathtaking.
If going to Sekumpul Waterfalls in Bali is on your bucket-list, just as it was on mine, then you should definitely consider doing it because it has some of the most epic and raw scenery on the island. Sekumpul is majestic, breathtaking and damn fun to hike to!
I had planned on going there by scooter leaving from Ubud, but I was honestly a bit intimidated to do so seeing that I was traveling alone, and that I was on a very tight schedule. So I hired a driver (who was also an excellent guide), for a full day, and took to the north of the island, passing through Pura Ulun Danu Beratan (the temple on the lake), and ending at Mt Batur for the night.
Due to it’s tricky and wild terrain, tourists don’t flock to the north of Bali, and even less visit the Sekumpul Waterfall, especially after being informed that it’s a 1,5 hour hike down steep hills, and that you’ll have to climb up the same way. And by up, I really mean pure torture.
As you begin to descend the mountain into the valley, the sound from the waterfalls becomes louder, and civilisation becomes less evident. There were certain moments when I realised that we were completely alone and isolated on these hills, apart from the occasional chickens shuffling in the dirt and geckos chatting (a sound that you get used to after a while in Bali).
Once you reach the viewing points about half way into the hikes, your jaw will drop as the huge waterfalls appear in the valley below.
Sekumpul isn’t made of only one, but seven waterfalls all converging into the same valley. It’s no matter why it’s named “Air Sekumpul”, meaning “Gathering Water” in Indonesian. The two streams that feed the main waterfall come from different sources and also have different heights. The one on the left comes from a spring, and the one on the right with over 100m, which is also known as the Grombong Waterfall comes from a river. It’s said that during the rainy season this fact is evident because one waterfall comes down white, and the other comes down brown due to the dirt carried in the river.
The main waterfalls at Sekumpul / Gerombong
The stream on the left comes from a spring, and the one on the right with over 100m in height comes from the river.
Photo | Roger Mac | Mavic Pro – 8°10’36.227″ S 115°10’54.947″ E
What to do at Sekumpul Waterfalls
1. Take photos
This may be obvious, but you really should take a lot of pictures at Sekumpul, because the scenery changes at every 200m. You’ll come across amazing cottages, animals, villagers, tropical jungle scenes, waterfalls, streams, views of rice paddies and other really cool scenes that deserve that special snapshot.
Of course, once you get to the Sekumpul viewing points half way through any of the hikes, you’ll realise that this is scenery with National Geographic quality! You’ll be impressed by the real dimension of the Waterfalls, and you’ll realise that they’re bigger than you thought.
If you have a drone with you, these are the points from where you should take off and get your footage if you want to fly safely, because as you go down into the gorge, you’ll lose GPS coverage and the gusts created by the waterfalls may get your drone smashed straight into a rock wall. Even if you do take off from this point, you will notice serious turbulence in your level controls and altimeter, so fly with caution and always maintain eye contact with your drone (if you love your DJI enough to do that).
2. Cool down in the water
Make sure you take your board shorts and bikinis for a really fun and wet experience. Feeling the cool powerful wind and spray generated by the waterfall is a great way to cool off from a long and tiring hike.
Pay attention though, as all waterfalls do have their dangers; don’t get too deep into the plunge pool as you may get sucked under, and rocks may be dislodged from the wall as the water crashes down.
3. Meet the villagers
As we walked down the paths, Gede (my new friend) started speaking about how the communities in the north make their living off the land, and it’s not so difficult to understand how important the ecosystem in these mountains is to their survival. They’ve built canals to stream water to their crops, sculpted the hills to make it easier to plant trees and food, there’s chickens all over the place, and there’s a deep sense of peace every footstep of the way. Looking around, you’ll see exactly how they live up here. If they’re not working in the field or tending to their crops, they’ll be chilling on their porches, smiling and waving to anyone who passes by.
Stopping to have a chat with a family or two is an amazing experience that you’ll never forget. There’s a form of happiness and contentment amongst these people that can’t be found anywhere else on the island.
If you have the time to stop along the path, take a moment to meditate and take in your surroundings. Take in as much as you can, because Sekumpul has a lot to offer both emotionally and spiritually. The energy created by the proximity of the waterfall is incredible, as the sound and the air displacement created by the huge amounts of moving water are both very unique experiences. So take advantage of this and ommmm all that stress away.
How to get to Sekumpul / Grombong Waterfalls
Getting to Sekumpul Waterfall is tricky. Not all roads are mapped out, and the trails can sometimes be difficult to understand. Fortunately, once you arrive in the area, there’ll be quite a few hints indicating that you’re in the right place, such as the amount of “Official Registration” posts which increase in number as you get closer, and so will the scammy tour guides and parking lots. So pay attention, and try to avoid conflict with these people. In fact, try to avoid speaking to anyone on the side of the road until you’re walking on the trail towards the valley.
Seeing that I went to Sekumpul after visiting Bedgul, I was arriving by car on the road that passes Melukih and Sekumpul, with a driver who had certain privileges as a local and we didn’t have to pay hefty parking fees at the north entrance. These can rack up to 200k IDR if you’re not careful.
There are 2 main entrances (north and south), and they’re confusing to find, especially for first time visitors and for those who don’t want to pay extra for guides, so I’ll leave you with the GPS coordinates to the falls, so that anyone can follow.
1. Arriving by car without a local guide
If you’re arriving in a car without a local guide, you should leave your car at “Mungseng Breeze Resto” (-8.19209,115.18465) and enter through the South. The “Mungseng Breeze Resto” is difficult to spot from the road as it’s sort of in between buildings, so once you get close, find a place to park for free and look for the Mungseng Breeze banners above the path. Follow it down all the way to the tiny shop “Warung Fiji” (-8.18135,115.18369). The official South Ticket Entrance to Sekumpul will be about 200m ahead.
2. Arriving by car with a local guide
If you’re arriving in a car with a local guide, you can leave your car up at the Sekumpul Waterfall Central Parking (-8.173642,115.187710). Your path starts on the other side of the road, by passing Warung Sembako Sekumpul, and following down to the right. Follow the signs and ask the residents for directions if you get lost amongst the plantations. After some time, you will arrive at the Sekumpul North Ticket Entrance. It’s by far the most rewarding way to Sekumpul, as it gets you in touch with the locals and their amazing lifestyles, and also allows for some of the most scenic hikes that you can ask for (it’s the one described in this post).
3. You’re on a scooter
If you’re going to Sekumpul on a scooter or a motorbike, then you can also opt for the South Entrance, and enter the path at “Mungseng Breeze Resto” (-8.19209,115.18465). As I said previously, the “Mungseng Breeze Resto” is difficult to spot from the road, so pay close attention to the little plastic banners above the pathway. Enter it, and follow it down all the way to Warung Fiji (-8.18135,115.18369). This is where you will park your bike for free. The official South Ticket Entrance to Sekumpul will be about 200m ahead.
Tickets to Sekumpul / Grombong Waterfalls
Even though the Sekumpul Waterfalls are located in raw and partially savage nature, you should consider paying the entry fee, in a way to contribute to the local communities and to the preservation of this beautiful place.
You will be charged a recreational retribution fee of 20.000 IDR (1,50 USD) at the official ticket stall located at the north and south entrances. This is the only thing that can officially be charged here, and you will receive a receipt like the one on the right.
Bare in mind though, that paying a guide to take you down is also a valid option (I know I’ve said the opposite before). Some of these people make a living by taking tourists down the path, so contributing to the right people makes sense, once you know they’re the right people. These will generally be kind and won’t be pushy.
Apart from the scammy guides that can easily take advantage of foreign visitors, the Sekumpul/Grombong waterfalls are totally worth visiting if you’re seeking complete isolation for a day. Fit for both solo and group adventure travellers, but not so good for city folk that don’t like isolation and long hikes. Due to the terrain, make sure that you’re in good physical condition, and don’t suffer from any joint issues, as there are hills and hundreds of steps to climb, and rivers that you may need to cross barefoot.
– Half a day is recommended
– Entry fee 20.000 IDR
– Take water and snacks
– Take a bathing suit
– Wear comfortable shoes