Jatiluwih: Cool highland drive in Bali


jatiluwihJatiluwih is located in the north of Tabanan district, 13km due north of the town of Tabanan. Of course there is no road that goes straight to Jatiluwih, which is part of the attraction. A World Heritage site, noted for its sawah (rice terraces), Jatiluwih is a quiet part of Bali, that does attracts some day trippers in small white tourist vans, but never the crowds of the southern coast.

Sitting on the southern slope of Gunung Batukaru, Jatiluwih neighbors Wongayagede and the mountain temple at Pura Luhur Batukaru.

The quickest way to get to Jatiluwih, from Kuta, is to head towards Tabanan, taking the road north to Singaraja, when you see the sign. Jatiluwih is really just a mountain village, but the area around it is known by that name. You head up almost as far as Bedugal, looking out for a small sign for Apuan / Jatiluwih, on the left corner of the road. The windy rutted street at first allows a maximum speed of about 10mph, but then gets faster. The great thing about this route, is that it steps straight of the ‘fast track’ main road, and straight into gorgeous rice fields and a totally different reality.

Another way to go that is wonderfully scenic, but slower, is from central Tabanan town. You get on the main east-west through street, Jl. Pahlawan (changes name in places, also Jl. Gatot Subroto and Jl. Gunung Semeru) and look out for Jl. Majapahit (08 32 21S, 115 07 53E) heading north. Keep heading in a northerly direction and you’ll enjoy a scenic narrow road passing through villages with plenty of photo opportunity. This route takes you through Marga and many of the lesser travelled villages. If you get lost, as most of us do, just remember that its downhill to the coast, uphill heading north.

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jatiluwihThe steamy temperatures of the coast give way to cool, cloudy conditions and rain is always a possibility. It isn’t unpleasant at all and lovely to see the island looking so fertile. The small lanes twist and turn, meaning you have to keep your eyes on the road. Often a 4-way junction will appear, without sign posting, although at most of the major intersections (in that they link small, but strategic roads) have sign posts. One way to judge a possible route is to look at the quality of the road. If its relatively smooth and new, it gets used a lot, meaning there will be another decent road at the end of it. It the road soon turns into a bumpy, pot-holed backwater, you’d best turn around unless you have the time for a serious adventure. A wrong turn can often lead to stunning scenery and a nice surprise. Bali is small and navigational errors rarely lead to anything you can’t deal with. Cafe Jatiluwih, the quiet roadside place that overlooks stunning ricefields makes a pleasant stop on your east-west cruise through the area. If you can’t locate it, here are the co ords. (08 22 14S, 115 07 51E).

Rejoining the main north-south road to Tabanan will get you back to Kuta in around 90 minutes.