Set almost at the geographic centre of Bali, the beautiful Bali Botanic Gardens overlook Danau Bratan in Candikuning near Bedugul and is one of the more seriously underrated attractions in Bali -- if you're already in Bedugul picking up some strawberries (or having a round of golf) be sure to allow time for a visit.
Founded in July 1959, the impressive 157-hectare grounds are home to more than 2,000 plant species and one could easily spend a whole day walking around them and taking in their natural beauty. While the park is most easily explored by car, motorbike or bicycle, it is also great fodder for a full day of hiking -- bring a packed lunch and plenty of water.
Upon entry you'll be handed a loose leaf map (which MOST DEFINITELY is not to scale) that is useful for finding your way around the park. Not long after entry you'll reach Bali Treetop Adventure Park which offers a range of flying foxes, rope bridges, Tarzan jumps and so on. It's an extremely popular spot, and attracts a mix of foreign and Indonesian families and other adventurers. Admission to Treetops is on top of the Botanical Gardens admission.
The park though is far bigger than Treetops and the further you go into the park, the grander it gets. While there are "standard" botanical garden features like a rose garden, herbarium and glass house, the real attraction is just the open spaces and cool mountain air.
We say cool but we actually mean cold and on our most recent visit in the middle of 2014, the park was misty and moody and also downright freezing -- but it was also particularly beautiful -- moreso even when the mist lifted and we gazed across to the waters of Bratan Lake.
Our favourite part of the park is the northern reaches of the gardens, especially around the “Ethnobotany Guesthouse” where to one side there is a rolling lawn running down into a valley with lake views, and behind is a beautiful stretch of rainforest with a hidden away bale ideal for soaking it all up on.
Bali Botanical Gardens is also very well regarded for its bird watching possibilities, with almost 100 species of birds recorded within the park. According to a learned twitcher we visited with there's a mix of Asian and Australasian birds with lots of crowd pleasers -- whatever that means.
To reach the park from Bedugul, look for the big corn sitting on top of the big cabbage in the middle of Candikuning and take the turn off under the archway. This road travels about a kilometre uphill to the entrance to the gardens where those with motorbikes will be asked to dismount and park for a fee of 3,000 rupiah. Those with cars are allowed to drive them inside the gardens for a fee of 12,000 rupiah plus the entry fee per person of 7,000 rupiah -- ostensibly foreigners are charged 18,000 rupiah, but we were charged 7,000.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 26th November, 2014.