The twin lakes of Danau Tamblingan and Danau Buyan along with their more famous sibling, Danau Bratan, sit within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano. Danau Tamblingan, the smaller of the three, offers some terrific trekking, canoeing and camping possibilities. Danau Tamblingan is considered to have spiritual significance and healing abilities in local mythology and the area is home to several temples. The origin of the name derives from tamba meaning medicine, and elingang, spiritual.
Forest surrounding the lake is protected and forms the Tamblingan Nature Recreation Park. The park has two access points, and requires entry tickets — one is located near Danau Buyan, and the other on the western side of Danau Tamblingan seven kilometres from Munduk and 13 kilometres from Bedugal. Tickets are purchased from the official entry booth where you can also organise trekking guides and canoe trips.
The official entry fee is 100,000 rupiah per person, however the local guide association believe that is too much, as when the fee increased from 15,000 rupiah it had a detrimental effect on the local guiding business. At the entry booth they told us they disregard the official fees and set their own at a more reasonable 25,000 rupiah. Visitors are issued a receipt, and every fourth person gets the offical 100,000 rupiah ticket (so we’re told). They mentioned that the Danau Buyan entry gate charges the official 100,000 rupiah fee. Outside the entry post a pile of walking sticks are available for trekkers to borrow.
From the entry booth it’s a 600-metre walk along a flat road to the lake, where Pura Gubug, with its three meru (pagodas) dominates the shoreline. Traditional dugout canoes line up waiting for local fishermen, or the rare tourist to be ferried across the lake. The forest around the lake is lush, and the blanketing fog can create a wonderful moody atmosphere — ideal for photographers. This area is infrequently visited by tourists, so it’s quite possible you’ll not encounter anotheri. Danau Tamblingan is popular for birdwatching too. While trekking, take a moment to stop and listen for the birdsong in the forest.
For those into numbers, the lake is about five kilometres in circumference (depending on water levels), and reaches 1.8 kilometres in length and 900 metres across at its widest points. Danau Tamblingan’s depth is measured at 90 metres, the deepest in Bali. The area sits at 1,200 metres above sea level. The nature reserve, known locally as Cagar Alam Batukahu, covers 1,763 hectares -- so there’s quite a bit to explore.
If trekking without a guide, be aware that some areas have no marked trails and require local knowledge. Following the lake shore you should have no problem, however, beware of poisonous stinging plants.
Fees for guided treks are set at official rates by the guiding association. Most include a canoe ride and are priced for up to a maximum of four trekkers. Treks usually visit a couple of temples along the way and guides can explain about the various flora and fauna and cultural aspects. Easy flat treks follow the lake shore, or more strenuous can climb up and down a few hills.
A one-hour walk plus a 30-minute canoe ride is 350,000 rupiah for up to four people; a two-hour trek which includes visiting some plantations and two temples plus a 30 minute canoe ride is 450,000 rupiah; trekking half way around the lake will take approximately four to five hours and includes a 45-minute canoe ride and will set you back 750,000 rupiah. In addition to the guide fees you are still required to pay the per person park entry fee.
It’s possible to camp by the lake too, but you must bring your own equipment. Fees are charged at the regular entry fee on a per person per night basis (plus an “up to you” donation). So if you’re camping overnight you pay the entry fee once, not for two days. Fees are charged for a maximum of three nights; apparently you can camp longer than this but don't need to pay more. We were told there are plans to build a new toilet block by the lake. Campfires are permitted.
If camping isn’t your thing, comfortable midrange accommodation can be found nearby at Terrasse du Lac Tamblingan Sari, or stop in on the way past for a meal at their popular restaurant.
You’ll need private transport to get to Tamblingan Nature Recreation Park, or it’s possible to make a trek through the forest from Munduk. To get to the park (by road), take a left where a sign points to Pondok Kusuma Wisata as the road commences downhill from the hills surrounding Lakes Tamblingan and Buyan on the road from Bedugul to Munduk. Don’t forget a jacket, it can be cold around the lake.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 16th September, 2016.