NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
Ifirst heard of NEWbali a few months ago when a friend of mine posted a picture of herself in front of a gorgeous waterfall. When I asked her where this was she simply said it was at Secret Garden, and that I would have to join a tour company called NEWbali to find out more.
Fast forward to a few months later, and I was making my way to Sanur harbour at 8am in the morning to cross over to Nusa Penida for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was going beach camping, hosted by the NEWBali crew.
NEWbali itself is a three-yearold tour company that offers exciting tours to off-the-beatenpath destinations in Bali. The name NEWbali stands for North, East and West Bali, in case you’re wondering.
Let me first warn you that this adventure is probably not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights. Having said that, I encourage anyone to go on this adventure, because nowhere else will you find views as majestic as those offered by NEWbali on Nusa Penida.
I was travelling with eight other people on this one-night camping expedition, which was hosted by NEWbali owner and founder, Martin Tirta, along with another friendly and energetic host, Mario Adriansyah.
We left Sanur harbour on a fast boat at 9am and arrived an hour later at Toyapakeh harbour on the quiet Nusa Penida – nusa translates to island. Compared to its sister island of Nusa Lembongan, Penida is less touristy and not as developed. It’s perfect for those wishing for a quiet and rural getaway, a place where cellphone reception is hard to find.
Arriving on Penida, we were taken to Warung Pondok at Jalan Raya Ped, a charming semi al fresco warung right by the beach. First on our list of adventures was snorkelling. Most of the people on Penida make a living from seaweed farming, and it took an effort to swim past the seaweed farm – jumping in and swimming over nets – to make it to deeper water and finally be able to see colourful fish and beautiful corals.
After about 30 minutes of playing around with Nemo and Dory, I got back to the shore for a quick brunch. At about 12pm, we started moving to our first attraction, Guyangan Natural Pool.
I fell asleep during the 45-minute ride to Guyangan, only to find myself having to go down lots of flights of stairs once I woke up. The natural pool site is a hidden gem that only locals know of.
But those stairs were conveniently perched right on the wall of a cliff. Some have only small steps and look very crooked, ready to fall off at any time.
After about 30 minutes making our way down, we finally arrived at the gorgeous natural pool at the bottom of the cliff. There’s also a small pura (Balinese Hindu temple) near the pool. According to Martin, the locals pump fresh water from this source into their homes.
It was definitely refreshing to just chill in our own “private” lagoon while enjoying a breathtaking ocean view, although afterward we had to climb all the way back up, and move forward to the camping ground.
Five hundred steps later we made it to the top. My friend and I were almost zombie-like with exhaustion when we caught up with the other guests waiting patiently for us. It took another 45 minutes by car to get to the camping ground, which was at Atuh Beach in Pejukutan.
When I thought we were done with stairs, I discovered that reaching the camping spot required going down more steep steps. However, the view from the cliff top was simply magnificent. I could see a white sandy cove on one side and the vast blue ocean on the other.
The team from NEWbali was setting up our tents as we finally got to the beach. All the sweat and tears finally paid off when we took a quick dip in the ocean after a long day.
Two hours later the sun set and it was finally time for a traditional Indonesian dinner made by the locals, who are partners of NEWbali. Martin explained that the company builds and maintains a relationship with the local people.
After dinner, the group sat around the bonfire and enjoyed live music entertainment provided by the local Penida youngsters, jamming along to top 40 songs. At about 9pm everyone called it a day and retreated to their tents.
The adventure didn’t stop there though. The high winds shook our tents all night, making it difficult for us to get a good night’s sleep.
The next day we woke up to a fresh sea breeze and got ready to leave by 9am. After taking down our tents, we climbed the awfully steep stairs, which I have to admit it weren’t as tiring as the ones to Guyangan.
We arrived back at Warung Pondok at 11am, and we relaxed and had lunch before taking the boat back to Sanur and bidding farewell to the adrenaline rush of our Nusa Penida camping exhibition. All thanks to NEWbali team.
NEWbali offers other adventures such as hiking to Ijen Crater in Java, snorkelling in Amed, a Secret Garden excursion and waterfall jump right here in Bali, and a rice field journey. I was told that next year, they’re planning to offer trips outside of Bali and Java. More information and booking details are available online at newbali.info or firstname.lastname@example.org.