An adventure day to remember – visiting Sekumpul Waterfall + a complete guide
Bali’s tallest waterfall is truly a sight to behold. Falling from 80-metres above, a trip into the mountains to see it in person should be on every Bali itinerary.
Set high in the mountains and deep in the jungle. Along mist-covered roads that wend and wind their way around the terrain. Through small villages with laughing children and dogs that jealously guard their territory, lies Sekumpul Waterfall.
It’s Bali’s tallest waterfall, and yes, it’s as epic as it sounds.
My first visit to this incredible destination was one of those days that I’ll look back and smile on for years to come. A story I’ll surely tell the grandkids one day (with a few embellishments to make myself seem way cooler than I was/am thrown in for good measure).
New York based Film Maker, Photographer, and my good friend, Gabriel Desanti, aka Mr ‘Get That Shot’.
New York City based Youtuber and Skate company co-founder, Brett Conti, aka ‘Mr Content-ee’.
Swiss Model and Photographer, Santina Malacarne, who I’d met via Instagram two days prior
Florida based Director, Producer and College Bar owner, Skyler Kern
Florida based up-and-coming Film Maker, Christopher Garbo
And myself, Aussie born life enthusiast, photographer, and writer.
We rose before the sun and headed straight to our meeting point, the popular Crate Café, Canggu. After all, we had a big day of adventuring ahead of us and good food, coffee, and an Instagram worthy café is the staple diet of any Content Creator.
GoPro’s in hand, attached to bikes, and secured in mouth-mounts, we set off – four scooters, one dirt bike, six humans, and thousands of dollars’ worth of camera equipment.
Two hours later and with sore backsides we pulled up at Sekumpul Waterfall parking lot. With our trusty guides, Skinny and Bruno, leading the way we set out on the start of the trek. Down a small road and past some ramshackle huts cum warungs cum souvenir shops.
The first stop on the journey is a simple lookout, but the view is anything but ordinary. The jungle strewn valley stretches out beneath us. Stealing the show is Sekumpul itself, a twin cascade whose thunderous roar we can hear even from the top of the hike. The valley stretches away to the right, leading deeper into the mountains and to a second visible waterfall. A blanket of fog sits atop all of this, creating a scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a Science Fiction film about big blue aliens.
From here we make the steep descent down concrete steps carved into the side of the valley. Rusted hand-railings are our only support and we clutch them as tightly as we cling to our cameras.
Further and deeper still we descend before coming to the first waterfall of the day. Hidden Waterfall, concealed from above by thick jungle, is aptly named. It sits in a high-walled gully that stretches away and around a bend, several smaller cascades fall down the gully walls. The spray combines with the thick blanket of fog that rests upon the entire area to create a dream-like quality to what we see. Only this is real life, and it’s more glorious than anything we could have dreamed.
One, let alone six Content Creators in such an environment could never pass up an opportunity like this. We spend nearly an hour snapping photos, filming cinematic sequences, and exploring the area.
Our guides sit and watch us, smiling like they know something we don’t. Which is true, they’ve seen the beauty of Sekumpul Waterfall up close, something we have yet to witness. They usher us along, eager for us to see the main attraction.
Even though we’ve spent many moments taking in the falls from above, nothing can really prepare you for seeing it up close. From 80-metres above us two slabs of water fall, creating a great thumping roar as they rush to smack the ground beneath. The impact throws up a spray that blankets the entire area in a rain-like mist, we’re all soaked in mere moments.
We stand in complete awe, grinning and giggling like school children. Content opportunities aside, the sheer awesomeness of this place is undeniable.
We spend two hours at the base of Sekumpul Waterfall. Photos are taken, video is filmed, and cameras get wet but still we can’t help but smile. This is simply epic.
Brett and I brave the impact zone and swim underneath the torrent of water, GoPro’s in hand of course, such power couldn’t be left undocumented.
Eventually, it’s time to make the hike back to the top of the valley. SD cards full, we battle our way up the steep stairs, stopping at the initial look out area to fly the drones as the signal down in the valley wasn’t strong enough.
Our day wasn’t over though, there was still the journey home. As fate would have it, a huge rain storm hit right as we were leaving. With no signs that it would let up any time soon and already soaked to the bone, we put rain covers over the camera bags, grit our teeth, and rode for three hours in the stinging rain back to Canggu.
We made it back, safe and sound, if not very, very wet. I hadn’t realised just how tense the journey was until I let go of the scooter. My arms physically ached, so white-knuckled had my grip on the handle bars been.
And so, we sat, jumpers on and cups of hot tea in hand, watching from the window of our accommodation as the sun turned the sky pastel in its descent on what had easily been one of the best days of our lives.
While I can’t guarantee your day will be as epic as ours, I can guarantee you’ll love Sekumpul Waterfall. I’ve since been again with my friends Mark and Mim from The Common Wanderer (thanks to them for some of the pictures in this post!) and they were just as awe-struck as I was the first time I saw it. So, if you want to see Bali’s tallest waterfall (and you really, really should), check out the comprehensive guide below.
A complete and comprehensive guide to Sekumpul Waterfall
Where is it
Location | Sekumpul Waterfall is located in Bali’s northern mountain region about two to three hours’ drive from the ever-popular tourist hubs of Canggu, Kuta, Seminyak, and Ubud.
How to get there
From the north (Singaraja/Lovina)
Simply jump on the Bedugal-Singaraja Road (Jl. Raya Bedugal – Singaraja) toward Bedugal lake and make a left turn toward the top of the mountain at the Sekumpul sign-posted turnoff. From here it’s about a 30-minute drive along winding roads until you reach the designated car park and hike starting point.
From Canggu/Seminyak/Kuta it’s about a two-three hour drive primarily along a main highway. Jump on the Denpasar-Singaraja Road (Jl. Raya Denpasar-Singaraja) which will eventually turn into Jl. Raya Baturiti Bedugal. Go past Bedugal lake and make your way up the mountain. Just as you start to head down the other side make a right hand turn onto the Sekumpul sign-posted turnoff. From here it is the same 30-minute drive along winding roads that you would make if you came from the North (see above).
From Ubud it is much the same drive as from Canggu/Kuta/Seminyak. Head west until you make your way onto the Denpasar-Singaraja Road and continue up into the mountains as above.
Sekumpul Waterfall Entrance fee
There are actually three different types of entrance fees to Sekumpul Waterfall – view only, medium trekking, and long trekking.
Due to recent government regulations (Feb 2019), it is now mandatory for visitors to Sekumpul Waterfall to be accompanied by a guide. That’s what the fee’s cover, as well as supporting the local community and funding the ongoing maintenance of the waterfall and surrounding area.
Once you arrive at the parking lot, you’ll be directed to an area where you can pay your entrance fee and where you’ll be designated a guide so you can start your trek to the falls.
The ‘view only’ entrance fee is 20’000 IDR per person and is exactly as it sounds. Your guide will take you to the top of the trek where there is a small area from which you can view Sekumpul Waterfall and the surrounding valley from afar.
The ‘medium trekking’ option is 125’000 IDR per person and the option I went with on both visits to Sekumpul Waterfall. It includes your guide, a donation to Sekumpul Village, and a visit to both Hidden Waterfall and Sekumpul Waterfall. This is what I personally recommend.
The ‘long trekking’ option is 200’000 IDR per person and covers the cost of a guide, a donation to Sekumpul Village, and a visit to Hidden Waterfall, Sekumpul Waterfall, and the nearby Fiji Waterfall, Bali’s only triple cascade. This option also comes with a complentary plastic bottle of water. I really encourage you to refuse this and bring your own reusable bottle, Bali has enough problems with plastic pollution.
You should have a reasonable level of fitness to do this hike as it is quite steep in sections and the river crossing can be difficult.
From the car park the hike follows a narrow road that winds through a small village area and past some pop-up shacks and stalls selling food, fruit, and refreshments. You’ll soon reach the top of the trek where you can view Sekumpul Waterfall and the valley below. If you’re doing the medium or long trekking, it’s definitely worth taking a quick break here to snap some photos before heading down into the valley proper.
After descending down concrete steps and along some dirt paths your guide will lead you to Hidden Waterfall, a high-walled gully consistently filled with a sheen of spray from the many smaller cascades and main fall just around the bend. This is another spot that’s worth spending a bit of time exploring and taking some of those gram-worthy snaps.
After Hidden Waterfall your guide will lead across two separate rivers and along some slippery rocks to reach the base of Sekumpul Waterfall. To stand at the base of this huge waterfall and feel its intense spray is a humbling experience. You’ll definitely get soaked, but that’s part of the fun.
After you’ve finished admiring Sekumpul Waterfall it’s about a 30-40-minute hike back up to the carpark. You’ll follow the same concrete steps up that you came down on, making this the hardest part of the trek.
All told you should allow about three or four hours to properly explore Sekumpul Waterfall and surrounds, more if you take the ‘long trekking’ option and head to Fiji Waterfall as well.
When to visit
Time of year | Bali’s seasons are split in two, the wet and the dry. During the wet season the falls are likely to be surging and the river crossing necessary to do the trek down to the base of Sekumpul Waterfall may be quite dangerous or even undoable. During the dry season the falls lose their intensity but are still an awesome sight to see. Your best bet is during the shoulder season, around February to April.
Time of day | As always with popular spots, get there as early as possible. The lighting for photos is better in the soft rays of the morning sun and you’re less likely to have to deal with crowds of other visitors.
Things to know
Fake registration points
Along the drive into the carpark and hike starting point, you’ll likely pass by some ‘registration’ points. These are stalls set up by locals who will try and persuade you to stop and pay a ‘registration fee’ for entering the falls. IGNORE THESE. Drive past them and head straight to the carpark and hike starting point, the entrance fee here is the only fee that you need to pay.
It can be expensive to visit Sekumpul Waterfall
Due to Bali’s dramatic rise in popularity over the last few years, tourist attractions such as Sekumpul Waterfall are quickly becoming the hot new ‘must-see’ place, and the local communities are capitalising on this. Many places in Bali, including Sekumpul, now require a fee of some form or another to visit. While a one-off visit may not break the bank, visiting more than one of these popular destinations can begind to add up quite quickly. Just something to be aware of if you’re travelling on a budget.
You’ll have a guide - it’s required by law
As mentioned earlier, it is now an official government regulation that each visitor or group of visitors must be accompanied by a guide. So, if you were hoping to explore Sekumpul without one, I’m afraid you’ll disappointed. There is a gateway just after the first viewpoint where local security checks for your entrance ticket and they won’t let you past without one.
The hike is not for the feeble
Tough on the knees and ankles, but well worth the view, be prepared to sweat on the hike down and back up from Sekumpul Waterfall.
Wear proper/appropriate footwear and attire
Due to its location in the jungle, and the fact that there are river-crossings involved, make sure you’ve got appropriate footwear and attire. The rocks can be quite slippery, the water isn’t always clear, and accidents do happen, so better to be safe than sorry.
Grab an adventure bag
It breaks my heart to see beautiful locations such as this polluted by rubbish and pollution. After you’ve finished admiring the majesty of Sekumpul Waterfall, do your bit for the environment by grabbing an Adventure Bag.
Our guide on my second visit, Kadek, is really ahead of the curve here. he leads a local environmental movement called Trash Heroes whose aim it is to educate local communities on the environmental damage caused by plastic and other pollution. When he saw us begin to pick up rubbish, he immediately started to help out and explained that he and his friends clean the area regularly. Even so, due to the sheer amount of pollution in Bali, it only took us a short while to collect quite the bag of trash.
Photography at Sekumpul Waterfall
Such an epic location means there is ample opportunity to grab some epic photos.
From above, the scenery is lush and the falls majestic, along the way the jungle engulfs you and can be captured at its most raw and natural. From below, the falls are powerful and buffet you with their intensity.
It’s from below that the most powerful and awe-inspiring images are usually taken of the Sekumpul waterfalls, where there are some great locations to frame a subject on a large boulder with the cascade in the background.
However, it isn’t as easy as simply pointing the camera at the waterfall and clicking the shutter. Due to the intense spray thrown up by the cascade, photography at Sekumpul Waterfall can actually be a bit of a challenge.
Your best bet is to make sure you have a lens cloth (or two!) handy at all times, as it will often be a matter of framing the shot, taking a few quick snaps, and then needing to clean the lens of water droplets before you can continue.
Where to stay
Having been to Sekumpul Waterfall twice, once while staying in Canggu and once while staying in Singaraja, I can definitely recommend that you stay in the north. Not only will it make the trip there easier, but it means that you don’t have to drag your wet and weary body as far to get back to comfort of your accommodation.
We booked a delightful Airbnb in Singaraja and it was perfectly located for all of our Northern Bali adventures. Use this link to save yourself up to $55 on your booking.
Alternatively, click here to see what’s available in the area.
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