Experience the real Bali with Astungkara Way
Who is Astungkara Way
Astungkara Way was formed during covid when Bali was suffering especially. Many locals lost their jobs in tourism and had to return to their villages and support themselves through agriculture. “Astungkara” means “hope” in Balinese, and this is exactly their mission: to bring hope to generations of farmers, to bring hope to boost organic farming practices, and to bring hope to a more sustainable Bali.
5-day itinerary – The heart of Bali
The trails are an invitation to slow down, take notice and connect with nature and local Balinese communities living simply and sustainably. The 5-day trail is one of the experiences offered by the Astungkara Way, which takes you through the heart of Bali and gives you the chance to connect with the island. The trail consists of walking, sleeping in nature, eating local and traditional food, learning about Balinese culture, and many other activities.
At 7 in the morning we met with the organizers, guides and fellow pilgrims with whom we were going to spend 5 days. Over breakfast we had an introduction to the 5 days ahead and got to know each other. Our group represented 5 different nationalities and an age gap of around 40 years, which really shows you that this experience is for everyone! After a ceremony, asking the Bali Gods for permission and protection during the tour, we embark on the first 8 km of trekking.
Our first destination was a beautiful water temple, where we did a water purification ritual, the perfect activity after an active day. The experience was very relaxing and beautiful. Later in the afternoon, we visit a local family to learn about their generations of artisans weaving bamboo baskets. We have to weave a basket ourselves to take home, reminding us of Bali. At nightfall, we curl up in our beds made up of a mattress, pillow, blanket and mosquito net, and we fall asleep to the sounds of nature. The perfect end to the day.
The alarm was set at 5am so that at dawn we could hit the day’s 20km trail. This morning was one to remember forever. Waking up to birdsong and fresh air made it easy to jump out of bed and seize the day. At dawn, the hard-working farmers were already working in the rice fields, and each person we met greeted us with a sweet “Selamat Pagi”, as we enjoyed the pink and orange colors of the sky as we walked through the rice fields. .
The trails get even more beautiful the further you go through Bali, and this trail was no different. Time flew by as we walked and chatted about life, and also enjoyed the peace and quiet of nature. We had several water and snack breaks throughout the day, and we reached our destination before 1 pm the next day, thus avoiding most of the harsh heat and midday sun. Our home for the day was an absolutely magical place with amazing food, staff, local produce and really nice facilities. A hot shower is appreciated after 20 km of walking in the tropical climate!
We spent the night visiting the owner of the accommodation’s family home, where he explained everything about how his family lives and their traditions. It was such an insightful afternoon and we learned so much about Balinese culture. We even had a cooking class, made a traditional Balinese spice mix and created several amazing local specialties from it. Before day 2 was over, we all shared a lovely dinner and were surprised with a massage. After 20km of walking this was the BEST. Then we settle in for the night, already many richer experiences.
The next morning we slept in until 6:30, having a quiet morning with homemade hot chocolate and traditional breakfast dishes (which tasted great!). The route on day 3 was barely 10 km, which took us 3 hours. It only felt like 1 hour though, because this trail was so much fun and took us through rice terraces and hilly terrain. As you can imagine, the views were spectacular!
We arrive at our destination, another of the Astungkara Ways partners. This sweet young couple had learned all about organic farming and wow, their farm was amazing with so many fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, herbs and more! Especially the fruits that were served to us were unbelievably good: pineapple, snake fruit, the best passion fruits we’ve ever tasted, tamarillo and other fruits that are grown locally in this part of Bali. This was another moving experience as we learned about their life on the farm, they served us the most delicious meals and we got to know them. Another day came to an end and another night was spent outdoors, with the sounds of nature.
We started the day with another 5am wake up call as we had a BIG day ahead of us. 21 km through the bamboo forest, the jungle and last but not least the rainforest. The beauty of the rainforest and the jungle was very diverse, and it was a magical place that gave you the feeling of being in another world. This trail was more adventurous than the others we had hiked, with more challenging terrain. However, this was a fun challenge and everyone, regardless of our age and physical condition, finished the tour in 8-9 hours, together, happy and tired. So we were overjoyed when we arrived at our last destination to be greeted with hot food baths, pancakes, and fresh ginger tea.
As it had been a long day, there were no activities planned for the afternoon, so we all got a well-deserved rest. For dinner, the lovely hosts at our accommodation had prepared a special Balinese celebration dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed. After dinner we proceeded to talk about our experience and what we loved and learned from the last 4 days. This was such a beautiful moment of gratitude and love, and we got a little emotional as our trip was coming to an end. We ended up playing cards and talking for hours, drinking tea and eating pancakes. This night was one for the books and one we will cherish for the rest of our lives. It was a great culmination of the family friendships we had formed with fellow pilgrims, guides, and organizers during the nearly 5 full days we spent together. It was such a special night.
Our last day had arrived, and the vibes were high as we started the day with dancing instead of stretching. Our last trail was about 7 km long, so we walked at a slow pace, enjoying the nature around us and each other’s company. As we hiked the trail through Monduk, we saw waterfalls, mountains, and vast flower plantations. Our final destination was a local organic restaurant and coffee plantation located right next to an impressive waterfall. Way to end the trail on a high note!
The restaurant owners took us on a tour of the plantation where we learned about coffee, replanting, and how Luwak coffee is produced ethically on their plantation. We also harvest many fresh herbs that we would include in our lunch, which we help prepare using local methods. Of course, we enjoyed some Bali coffee and Luwak coffee in the meantime! After having lunch and exploring the waterfall, we had one last activity on the itinerary; the last ceremony. This ceremony was held at the temple by the waterfall, and we thanked the Bali Gods for taking us through Bali safely and allowing us to experience their beautiful home. It was a really special ceremony, summing up the last 5 days, and appreciating all that we had seen and learned. We left feeling happy, content and grateful.
Our experience walking through The Heart of Bali
Being in nature for 5 days is a unique opportunity to disconnect, reflect and appreciate and that is exactly what we did. Although we have traveled far and wide in Bali, this trip gave us a deeper connection and understanding of the culture, the local way of life, their religious practices, the food they eat – the foundation of Bali.
As we trekked 70 km through the heart of Bali, we saw a lot of stunning nature, ranging from rice terraces to mountains, jungle and rainforest, waterfalls, local villages and much more. And every part was magical.
The food was a real highlight of the trip. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices were harvested at each location and turned into amazing local and traditional dishes. Everything we had was so tasty, healthy and authentic and it was a great opportunity to delve into Bali’s culinary heritage and benefit local farmers.
Although Bali has many amazing travel experiences to offer, not many of them allow you to really get in touch with the real Bali and the local people. This one does. Astungkara Way has built strong ties with local farmers, generations of knowledge, and cultural and culinary heritage, and we had the opportunity to participate in that. After the tour, we are left with a feeling of gratitude and a much greater understanding and appreciation of Bali.
Astungkara Way is changing the face of tourism in Bali. His experiences connect people with the culture and people of Bali while benefiting local economies, culture, and ecosystems. In addition, they are fighting climate change with regenerative agriculture, which they are teaching and implementing in Bali. We are so thankful for an organization that not only provides incredible experiences and lifelong memories, but also makes a positive impact.
Astungkara Way offers different trekking experiences, ranging from 2 days to 10 days. We would love to try the 10 day trail another time, walking from one Bali coast to the other! They offer not only trails but also farming experiences, for those who want to connect with the beautiful Astungkara Way agenda but don’t have 2, 5 or 10 days to hike Bali. You can try their half day farm tour, overnight on their beautiful farm, or a weekend experience from Friday to Sunday.
It is difficult to sum up this Astungkara Way experience as it was very impactful in so many ways. Therefore, we urge you to join the Astungkara Way to connect with our favorite island Bali and experience it for yourself.
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