Photo: Gorgeous scenery at Lake Bratan.

Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan

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Bookending the Bedugul region, the sibling crater lakes of Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan, along with Buyan’s smaller twin -- Danau Tamblingan, usually reached via nearby Munduk -- sit within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano. The area around the serene lakes is wonderfully relaxing, and the cool mountain air makes them ideal for trekking and camping.

The two lakes cover roughly the same area, just shy of four square kilometres each, however Danau Bratan is considerably shallower at approximately 22 metres deep while Danau Buyan is closer in depth to its twin, at 87 metres. All three lakes form an important part of Bali’s subak irrigation system, quenching the thirsty crops and plantations all over Bali.

A stunning moment on Danau Bratan. Photo taken in or around Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan, Bedugul, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

A stunning moment on Danau Bratan. Photo: Sally Arnold

Most visitors come to the area to briefly visit Pura Ulun Danau Bratan, on the western shore of Danau Bratan, however it’s worth spending a bit more time to explore further afield. Aside from the famous temple, Danau Bratan is overshadowed by Gunung Catur, with a height of 2,096 metres, the fourth-highest mountain in Bali. A challenging trek to the summit leads to Pura Pucak Mangu. We haven’t climbed here yet, but reports are it’s a lot less touristed than other climbs in Bali. A guided trek to the summit return is 600,000 rupiah for up to four people and will take about four to five hours. A more interesting trek continues from Gunung Catur to Pura Tinggan in Palaga. This route with a guide will set you back 800,000 rupiah for up to four people, and takes six to seven hours. You will need to arrange transport to meet you at the end (around 500,000 rupiah). Contact local guide Udin on (0852) 7290 5602.

One of the caves. Photo taken in or around Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan, Bedugul, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

One of the caves. Photo: Sally Arnold

Around the shoreline, an easier walk leads to a triptych of caves carved out by Indonesian labourers for the Japanese during World War II. The three caves are easily accessible, and interesting to have a look inside — you’ll need a torch. They are quite large and you can easily stand once you duck through the small opening. The tunnels each reach about 10 metres and are joined by a 20-metre tunnel running perpendicular. Another single tunnel leads further into the mountain, but has been blocked by landslides. To get to the caves, south of Pura Ulun Danau Bratan, take the road opposite Strawberry Hill Hotel, and continue past Jalan Telaga, turning left at the next small lane that takes you to the lake edge. The caves are a short walk around the lake from here. For the time challenged, a return ojek trip will cost 50,000 rupiah. Alternatively, you can hire a prahu (canoe) from near the Ashram Hotel (40,000 rupiah per person, minimum four). An additional 10,000 rupiah per person will extend the boat ride to Pura Ulun Danau Bratan. The price includes a boatman to paddle. On weekends and local holidays this area is chockers with day-tripping families, and the multitudes of speedboats disturb the otherwise peaceful waters.

Camping is possible. Photo taken in or around Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan, Bedugul, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Camping is possible. Photo: Sally Arnold

Danau Buyan along with Danau Tamblingan form part of the Tamblingan Nature Recreation Park. The entry booth for the park at Danau Buyan is at the end of Jalan Kedangson; turn off the main road just north of Pancasari Market. Official entry fee is 100,000 rupiah (10,000 for Indonesians), however if you enter the park via the gate at Danau Tamblingan, the local guides there charge 25,000 per person. Guides are available at the entry booth for treks around the lake. A three-hour guided trek to Danau Tamblingan is 300,000 for up to four people.

The shore at Danau Buyan is a popular local campsite, and during holidays and weekends can be a virtual tent city. Cost for camping is the per day entry fee, and there’s a nearby toilet block. Camping equipment can be hired from the entry point and several nearby shops. A four-person tent is 100,000 rupiah, sleeping bag 20,000 rupiah, and that most important piece of camping equipment, a portable karaoke machine, is 250,000 rupiah. If you haven’t packed camp food, nasi bungkus (10,000 rupiah) and nasi kotak (25,000 rupiah) -- takeaway boxes -- are available at the entry point too. Order when you arrive. On our recent visit we were disappointed at the amount of rubbish in this area, as it was a local holiday period.

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Location map for Danau Bratan and Danau Buyan

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