Resting in Indonesia’s vast archipelago of thousands of islands, there is one sunny little island that stands out from all the rest. Bali is a place that captures travellers’ hearts, minds and creative imagination. Positioned eight degrees south of the equator and measuring only 150 x 90 kilometres, it is home to more than three million Balinese Hindus – the only Hindu society in the whole of Southeast Asia. These warm, gentle, friendly people refer to tourists as “tamu”, meaning guests.
The visual force of nature’s abundant beauty is felt nowhere more than in Bali. The splendour and diversity of the landscape is legendary; volcanoes climb heavenwards into the clouds, while hand-carved emerald rice terraces cascade down to the sea. Wrapped in ancient rainforest, the island’s craggy east-west backbone is part of Indonesia’s volcanic ring of fire, with the resplendent summit of Gunung Agung, Bali’s tallest and holiest mountain, dominating the scene. Deep and narrow river gorges, rugged saddles, plummeting waterfalls and primeval calderas etch and gouge the island’s surface; mountain lakes shed life-giving water onto fertile plains.
The ingenuity of the Balinese has helped carve out a bountiful terrain of sculpted rice terraces. Estimated to cover 20 percent of the island, these vibrant green plantings and layered mirrors unfold like majestic amphitheatres linked by giant stairways, often stretching as far as the eye can see.
Endless sandy beaches fringe the serrated coastline with a shifting palette of colours and moods; the southernmost tip is defined by dizzying limestone sea cliffs, where ribbons of luminous turquoise waters highlight coral reefs and a below-surface world reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope. Here too, the powerful swells of the Indian Ocean create some of the world’s most thrilling and sought-after surf breaks.
Bali blends its beautiful nature with a colourful history and a rich culture defined by palaces, temples, flower-scented festivals and gorgeous arts. You will not fail to notice intricately carved doorways, stone statues and wood sculptures, the traditional architecture of temples and houses, magnificent paintings, masks, textiles and ornate jewellery, together with the beautifully crafted offerings to the gods.
Come, and let one of the most tranquil and transforming destinations on earth work its magic on you.