If you’re heading between Tulamben and Lovina or Gunung Batur, a detour to Les Waterfall and the nearby holy spring breaks up the long journey along the hot, dry north coast. Les Waterfall is sometimes referred to as Yeh Mempeh, however the locals said that simply translates as waterfall in the local dialect.
About one kilometre from the main road near Les village, a few signposts lead the way to a small car park with a ticket booth. Entry fee is 20,000 rupiah (although you’re not issued a ticket). Friendly guide Casper (like the ghost, he said) offers his guiding services for 100,000 rupiah per group. A guide is not really necessary for the walk but he is able to give information on the local plants and culture — and if you’re at all interested, he is not pushy and has good English. T: (0813) 3728 9728.
From the car park, after a five minute walk up a gravel path, the road splits — take the narrow cement path to the left alongside the irrigation channel. The path continues for about 20 minutes with a slight incline, passing plantations of papaya, banana, cloves, cocoa, jackfruit and coffee. It’s an effortless leisurely walk, however if you are frail or infirm (or in need of a drink) there are two small warungs along the way selling coconuts, coffee and Bintang (the essentials).
Heading towards the waterfall, a short sidetrack leads to a holy spring, plastered in signs in both English and Indonesian, saying it’s forbidden to enter without a sarong / for menstruating women and that washing was also not permitted. A small statue of Hanuman and a shrine guard the fenced off area. It’s a very pretty grotto in the forrest — and we were told the water is fresh and pure and okay to drink (we didn’t die).
As the surrounding jungle thickens, the cement path becomes easily navigable stepping stones to cross the river. A large banyan tree with a curtain of hanging roots shades a small temple near the base of the falls. The area is peaceful and delightfully cool and calming.
The impressive 30 metre falls drop in a solid sheet to a small pool — the water is cold and crystal clear and makes a perfect swimming hole to cool you down. The whole area is sprayed with mist from the waterfall — you’ll get wet whether you swim or not. At the time of our visit, the river was filled with small cairns, with flower offering placed on top, making the whole place feel a little magical. We noticed a troupe of macaques nearby — keep an eye on your belongings.
For the more adventurous, it’s possible to climb up to the top of the waterfall. We didn’t attempt it, but you’ll need shoes with good grip, and it involves pulling yourself up by tree roots. It’s possible to swim in the small pool above too. You’ll probably need someone to show you the way.
Not far from the warungs, a local has built a small homestay. It’s basic, but a perfectly lovely remote getaway. The simple building has an open attached kitchen, and a yoga studio. The bedroom is furnished with two double beds (one with mosquito net) and a fan. A basic outdoor bathroom has a western toilet, however the shower is cold water only — but it’s holy water direct from the spring! For 200,000 rupiah, it’s not a bad deal. He’s building two more rooms next door. Contact Gede Warbiasa T: (0852) 3892 6857.
We visited Les Waterfall late afternoon and there was no one else about. We were told it gets a little busier during the day, but this waterfall is certainly not overrun with tourists. It’s not practical to reach the waterfall by public transport. If you are staying at Tulamben the trip takes about an hour and a quarter each way (plus walking and swimming time) and an ojek is 200,000 rupiah for the return journey.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 6th June, 2016.