Get out of town
The popular walk along the narrow spine between the eastern and western branches of Ubud’s Wos Rivers, known as Campuhan Ridge is an easily accessible opportunity not only to stretch your legs and get away from the traffic-clogged streets, it offers stunning vistas and a glimpse of village life.
Campuhan in Balinese means the confluence of two rivers, spiritually significant to Balinese Hindus as energy centres, and the river junction here marks Ubud’s beginnings when in the eighth century, wandering sage Rsi Markendya was drawn to this point, establishing Pura Gunung Lebah, and indeed the town of Ubud.
The walk is not strenuous, but there’s a few uphill sections, and some stairs in places. You don’t need hiking boots and plenty of folk get by in flip-flops, however we’d recommend something a little more substantial. Take a hat as there’s little shade, and the sun can be scorching in the middle of the day. Of course, take water, but a few shops and cafes can hydrate you if you run out. This is a well-trodden path, and you won’t be alone, particularly on weekends when it’s the lovers lane for local teenagers.
The walk can be done as an eight kilometre loop, along the ridge and back through the streets, taking about three hours, or a more commonly as a shorter walk along the ridge and returning the same way — about six kilometres, and if you get tired, there’s always the option to get a taxi back to town. The walk begins at the entrance of Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas, just east of the Campuhan Bridge. If you are coming from central Ubud, and you hit Ubud clinic, back up a little, you’ve gone too far.
Enter the hotel driveway and take the left fork before the hotel entrance. A partly obscured small sign reads “going to the hill”. The path leads downhill, then over a bridge. Don’t cross the bridge, but take the stairs on the right side that will continue past the magnificent Pura Gunung Lebah. Take a moment to admire the multi-teared meru and elaborate carvings then from here just follow your nose. If you wish to have a better look at the temple, bring a sarong and sash, the entrance is just over the small bridge. You can also walk down to the confluence point from here too.
The path undulates along the ridge where swathes of long grass grown for thatch line the paved footway. On a clear day you can admire distant Gunung Agung, and abundant tropical greenery in every direction. After about half-an-hour along the open ridge the path leads you through the village of Bangkiang Sidem, which loosely translates from Balinese to “the narrow waist of a small black ant”, exactly what this ridge walk is like.
This area is becoming increasingly more suburban as ricefields give way to villas and hotels. Several art studios and small galleries can be found in this village mostly selling classical Balinese style work and traditional egg paintings (on wooden eggs!). Notable are the technically skilled, classical Keliki style ink drawings of Surana, whose studio is on the left at the beginning of the village. Generally prices are better than in Ubud (if you bargain), large canvases can be rolled for travel and galleries will generally drop your purchases at your accommodation if you don’t want to carry them.
Kasa Kafe is a pleasant stop for a juice or a snack — climb to the top floor of the open pavilion for sweeping views across the ricefields and a cooling breeze, or take up a possie on one of the bales by the lotus pond. If the walk has worn you out they have a spa behind the cafe and offer a taxi service to Ubud. The path which has now become a proper tarmac road, continues eight hundred metres further north through the centre of Bangkiang Sidem proper.
Note the packed mud walls and gates of some of the older compounds and amongst the trees growing alongside the path, look out for the coffee plants — in flowering season the white blooms fill the air with a sweet jasmine-like scent. Between the foliage you can often see the webs of the large yellow and black giant golden orb spiders (Nephila pilipes), one of the biggest spiders in the world. Arachnophobes fear not, they are well out of the way, a little difficult to spot and aren’t lethal to humans.
Once you have reached the intersection (you’ll see Imogiri Villa on your right), you can turn back and return to Ubud via the same route; continue heading north, and eventually (about seven hours walking) you’ll hit Gunung Batur; or take the left into Jalan Rsi Markendya II, named for the famous sage. The road leads steeply downhill towards the river, then even steeper uphill, twisting and doglegging for about two-and-a-half kilometres passing the villages of Payogan and Lungsiakan until it intersects with Jalan Raya Lungsiakan.
If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, stop in at The Warung Ubud opposite Pura Payogan. We tried a refreshing “Jamenium” drink: lemon, ginger, cucumber and mint, which came “deconstructed” with cinnamon infused sugar syrup on the side (30,000 rupiah). Once suitable revitalised, continue to Jalan Raya Lungsiakan, turn left and shortly the east heading road will swing south and become Jalan Raya Sanggingan. For an art fix, stop by Neka Art Museum. Continuing along this road, you’ll eventually cross the Camphuan Bridge and end up back in central Ubud.
Kasa Kafe and Spa; T: (0361) 849 3518, (0813) 5339 2013, http://www.karsaspa.com; open daily: 07:00-20:00 (spa: 09:00-19:00) The Warung Ubud; 18/20 Jalan Rsi Markendya II, Payogan; T: (0361) 908 1898; http://www.thewarungubud.com; open daily: 09:00-20:00
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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