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Bali Twin Lakes: Buyan and Tamblingan

Bali Twin Lakes, Buyan and Tamblingan in Bali, are a stunning pair of lakes situated in the village area of Wanagiri, Singaraja, Bali. The area is known for its cool and chilly climate, especially during the night. These two crater lakes are located within the caldera of the extinct Bedugul volcano. Previously, they were a single lake until 1800 when a landslide occurred, splitting the lake into two. Now, a narrow land bridge of less than a mile separates them.

Situated at an altitude of almost 4000 feet, this area is the heart of Bali’s farming region. Coffee plantations, vegetable fields, and traditional rice paddies cover the nearby slopes, adding to the beauty of the region. Lake Tamblingan is of great importance to the local villagers, who make their living through fishing, farming, and ferrying tourists and the devout by dugout canoe to the 31 temples located near the lake.

In actuality, Bali Twin Lakes, Buyan and Tamblingan, consist of three lakes that form a huge caldera. Beratan Lake lies to the east of Buyan Lake and Tamblingan Lake lies to the west. Buyan Lake is the largest of the three. Locals orchards and a small forest separate Buyan and Tamblingan Lakes by a distance of one kilometer. However, there is a very clear watery pool located between the Bali Twin Lakes, connected directly to the water source of Buyan Lake through a narrow canal. This pond, named stagnant pit of Aya by the villagers of Pancasari, is a popular spot for visitors to the area.

Despite their significance, little is commonly known about the Bali Twin Lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan in Bali. While most tourists tend to flock towards the more popular Lake Bratan situated a few miles to the east, the Bali Twin Lakes remain a hidden gem in this traditional region. These lakes share the same volcanic caldera as Lake Bratan, which boasts a renowned water temple and is a part of the ancient irrigation system that sustains the area’s coffee plantations and terraced farms. As a significant portion of the region falls within the Batukaru Nature Reserve spanning 4,356 acres, the Bali Twin Lakes are gaining popularity among eco-tourists, bird watchers, mountain trekkers, and adventure seekers.

Lake Buyan, locally known as Danau Buyan, stretches over 900 acres and reaches depths of up to 285 feet. While it is situated at an elevation of 3,984 feet, it is actually 10 feet lower than neighboring Lake Tamblingan. Often wrongly assumed to be the smallest of Bali’s five highland lakes, Lake Buyan is actually the second-largest after Lake Bratan. In contrast, Danau Tamblingan covers an area of approximately 470 acres and is slightly deeper, reaching depths of up to 295 feet. Visitors arriving from Lake Bratan or the south coast’s city of Ubud usually come across Lake Buyan first. The primary road, running from Ubud past Lake Bratan, runs alongside the lake’s north shore for most of its length. Though both lakes prohibit motorized boating, visitors can rent rowboats or bring their own kayaks to explore the area. While fishing is permitted, it is unclear what fish the lake contains, but local fishermen are a common sight paddling their traditional perahu on the lake.

In most tourist literature, there is little information available about two important lakes. Lake Bratan, which is a few miles east and better known, attracts most visitors. However, Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan, located within the same volcanic caldera, are gaining popularity among eco-tourists, bird watchers, mountain trekkers, and adventure seekers. Both lakes are situated in the 4356-acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is mostly protected land.

Lake Buyan, also known as Danau Buyan, covers over 900 acres and is 285 feet deep. At an elevation of 3984 feet, it is ten feet lower than Lake Tamblingan. Despite faulty translations suggesting that Lake Buyan is the smallest of Bali’s five highland lakes, it is actually the second-largest after Lake Bratan. Lake Tamblingan, which covers around 470 acres, is actually the smallest and slightly deeper at 295 feet. Visitors usually see Lake Buyan first when coming from Lake Bratan or from the little City of Ubud near the south coast. The main road, which runs from Ubud past Lake Bratan, skirts the north shore of the lake along most of its length. Although no motorized boating is allowed on either lake, row boat rentals are available, and some visitors bring a kayak to explore the lake. Fishing is permitted, but there is no information on the type of fish found in the lake. Local fishermen are often seen paddling their traditional perahu on the lake.

The main road between Lake Bratan and the northeastern end of Lake Buyan is lined with homes, small shops, and services. After the major developed area, all homes and private properties are located on the opposite side of the road from the lake, creating a buffer zone between the lake and the highway. Several small pull-off areas along the highway provide plenty of access to photographers and those who wish to enjoy the view across the lake. Beyond Lake Buyan, the road turns northwest and eventually leads to Lovina on the Bali Sea, about an hour away. To reach Lake Tamblingan, one must take small local roads from the turn-off to reach the little village of Tamblingan on the southwestern end of the lake. A water temple, essential to the irrigation system, stands at the edge of the water near Tamblingan. Regular ceremonies and blessing rituals are performed to ensure the regular water supply for the terraced fields of area farmers. The water temples are an integral part of the all-important irrigation system in the area.

Recently, the rising water from Lake Tamblingan has flooded the village and surrounding farms, forcing people to move to higher ground. Studies are underway to identify the cause of the increase in water and find a solution. There is concern that increased development on the surrounding mountain slopes has allowed more water to drain into the lake. The entire area falls under a UNESCO World Heritage cultural listing because of the ancient ‘Subak’ system of farming dating back to 678 A.D. As a result, demands are increasing on the Indonesian government to prevent further development that removes traditional fields from the landscape.

Exploring the natural beauty of the area through trekking is a popular activity among visitors. Asah Gobleg is a well-known hill trek that offers breathtaking views of the lakes. For those seeking more adventure, Mount Batukaru is a challenging climb that can be arranged with local guides. The trek through the rainforest and jungle is an opportunity to appreciate the diverse flora and fauna of the region. The area is home to many temples, which are important to the local community, and it’s recommended to hire local guides to avoid any unintentional breaches of cultural or religious customs. A less strenuous trek to the Munduk Waterfall is only a mile from the Munduk Market. Munduk is the center of the plantation system in the area and is home to various local shops selling handicrafts, specialty foods, and a wide array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

In the vicinity of Munduk, there are a few top-tier campsites that offer luxurious accommodations for their guests. Similar to African safari camps, some of these camps provide individual tents on platforms with attached bathrooms, along with gourmet meals and spa services. Along the highway running beside Lake Buyan, there are numerous homestays, guest cottages, and small hotels. The protected forests in the vicinity have designated camping areas as well. Most of the guest accommodations can arrange for tour guides and provide suggestions on what to see in the surrounding areas. There is a lot to explore and enjoy in the region, so it is not recommended to try and visit both the Bali Twin Lakes and Lake Bratan in one day. The lakes are frequently covered in fog in the mornings, and the nights can be quite chilly. As not all accommodations offer central heating, it is advisable to bring an extra blanket.

Visitors to the central Bali mountain areas will find modern hotels near Lake Bratan, but there are also other accommodations available along the road that runs between the lakes and Ubud. A trip to Ubud is a must-see, and Monkey Forest Road is the best place to catch a glimpse of the many free-roaming monkeys that venture onto the streets. These long-tailed macaques are protected by the nearby Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The main road leading out of Ubud is teeming with local vendors selling all sorts of wares, often with a persistent sales pitch. Small hotels and restaurants abound, as well as numerous art galleries. Ubud is also an excellent starting point for a visit to Bali Twin Lakes, Buyan and Tamblingan, and many guides in the area offer their services and specialized tours.

The mountain areas of central Bali offer a refreshing change from the coastal resorts, with Twin Lakes Buyan and Tamblingan providing breathtaking views and a vibrant local culture that must be experienced firsthand. Visit the Bali Twin Lakes and enjoy the view using Bali private driver service.

Check also: Taman Ujung Sukasada: A Majestic Water Palace

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