Surrounding Ubud – Elephant Caves, Temple Besakih and Mount Agung

After a day of torrential rain, the sun has come back to us and enabled to explore more of the area surrounding Ubud.  There are a number of tours you can book to visit the surrounding temples, caves and mountains, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper to hire yourself a scooter and go it alone.

Ubud, Indonesia
View from the scooter

Our first stop of the day are the Elephant Caves, or Goa Gajah to the Indonesian.  They are located in a steep valley just outside of Ubud and were built at least 700 years ago, the cave was rediscovered in the 1920s and fully excavated 30 years later.While exploring the jungle here was interesting, I found this site to be overrated, and packed to the brim with tourists.  If it’s on the way, take a quick stop in, otherwise I would skip it.

30 kilometres north of Ubud lies Pura Besakih, the “Mother Temple” of Bali.  Built in the 8th century, it is a massive complex of 35 temples, each with a distinct purpose and decorative style.

Temples in Bali
The Mother of all Temples in Bali

It is also a major tourism trap.  You have to pay a tourism fee, the entrance fee, a fee to rent a sarong if you’re knees aren’t covered, and then the local guides force themselves upon you for another “modest” fee.  Not to mention they make you park your bike or car at the bottom of the hill 500 meters below, even though there is ample parking at the top, in an effort to make you buy something from the 100 shops along the way.  While the temple itself is beautiful and mystical, the experience is hampered by the constant hassling at every turn.

Just north of the temple is Mount Agung, the highest point in Bali.  It overlooks Lake Batur, and there are several lookout points on the main road where you can get great photos of the mountains and the lake below.  There are a number of sunset hike options available, with tours leaving at midnight to make it the top of the mountain by dawn.  While this was something we were set on doing before we arrived, the amount it has rained each night has put us off from the trek.

Lake Batur, Bali
Lake Batur

With 3 full days spent in Ubud, it’s time to move on to the next destination.  Early tomorrow it’s off to Gilli T, a small island to the east of Bali, and just off the coast of Lombok.  Hopefully the sun will follow us to the island as we plan on spending the next few days lazing back at the beach.

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