Exploring a new place is a big part of the excitement for newcomers. Bali is accessible to first time visitors and the only thing you have to do to have an adventure and to escape the tourist scene is to get your own wheels. Forget day trips to Ubud and Kintamani, the good stuff is off of the main roads and exploring at a slow pace yields the best results. Hiring a car with driver is easy, simply tell a car rental place the day before what kind of car you need and for how long. Trips of several ways are no problem and the driver’s wage should be around 60,000rp-70,000rp over the price of the car rental, per day.
The mountain areas around Gunung Batukaru are some of the most stunning in Bali, main roads running north-south between Mengwi / Bedugal and Antosari / Pupuan. There is also another decent road from Tabanan through Penebel to the temple and hiking trail at Pura Luhur Batukaru. The hike to the summit of Gunung Batukaru takes 5-6 hours from the temple, the route being tree-covered most of the way, becoming clear at the summit. Those wishing to camp overnight on Gunung Batukaru might prefer to get clear of the tree line to avoid leeches. The views from the top of Batukaru at night must be amazing, given its central location in Bali and lack of people hiking. Once off of the main roads small often potholed roads appear, providing the east-west link and allowing locals to navigate the region and conduct inter-village commerce.
Once off of the main roads at night time there is no lighting, apart from the occasion local shop or house. Stars shine brightly on a clear night, the Milky Way and the Southern Cross dominant. Once off of the main roads there is no chance of finding a petrol station, but local road side petrol racks provide a safety net.
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Driving north from Antosari through Pupuan and favourite lunch stop is Sanda Butik Villas, a lovely spot owned by Ted from Holland, set in a old coffee plantation. It was the Dutch who planted the cocoa and coffee in the highlands, to feed their love of both.
Around 5kms short of the junction with the Munduk road, is the small village of Kereran Pakranan (08 16 07S, 115 58 02E). At the roadside is a small bamboo shack selling drinks and a wooden platform for taking photos. The valley into which the village looks is quite lovely, rice fields occupying the flat land where forest once stood. The winding route down to Seririt on the north coast of Bali features beautifully fertile scenery, which reminds one of the size of the island and the fact that there are places that are still unspoilt and untouched by tourism.