Go Topless – VW Safari Tours definitely isn’t the type of tour that just anyone can appreciate, especially those creatures of comfort who are used to traveling in full air-conditioned vehicles. But, if you have an adventurous streak and inkling to see the ‘real’ Bali, then you are in for a treat.
Recently Bali Tribune had the opportunity to participate in a VW Safari tour along with four other visitors from England and Australia.
We left the dust and crowds of Kuta behind and traveled in a rainbow convoy of three vehicles along the winding back roads of Seminyak. Once away from the tourist hustle and bustle, the drivers stopped briefly to let down the canvas roofs.
It was a perfect day, the sky almost cloudless with just the right amount of breeze to splay ones hair in every direction.
Although the VW or Volkswagen, as it is more commonly known, has a fairly noisy engine it was surprising the speed that our 1976 machine displayed. Our humble Balinese driver/guide, must have been a rally driver in a previous life as he expertly maneuvered the vehicle around sharp bends.
The convoy traveled through some quiet unknown roads and past some spectacular rice fields in the various stages of harvest. Workers were bundled in layers of clothing and conical hats to protect them from the harsh tropical sun as they thrashed sheaves of dried rice stalks. Groups of small village children laughed and waved as we droved by, obviously amused at the crazy tourists in the noisy machines.
Our first stop point was on the isolated Tabanan coast at Yeh Gangga Beach. After a refreshing cool drink and snack of lightly fried bananas, our group alighted two large horse drawn buggies for the five-minute trek to the beach. We were greeted by several majestic looking horses in shades of chestnut and black who were to be our companions for the next hour or so. The ride along the black volcanic sand beach was invigorating and the Manado mixture horses willingly trotted past the newly opened Waka Gangga Resort, with stops at an ancient temple, small waterfall, bat cave and back through the sleepy village. The time atop our four-legged friends flew by and before long we were back in our newly painted cream, yellow and fluorescent orange VW’s.
Once again we wove and bumped through a series of small and un-serviced roads observing quaint villages and weather worn temples. The particular day that we were out was an auspicious day on the Balinese calendar and was especially good for a groom and his entourage of family to pick up his prospective bride from her family compound. We saw numerous processions of such with everyone decked in their finest sarongs and gold jewelry.
As our vehicles steadily proceeded through the Tabanan Regency the air became distinctly cooler in the higher altitude. The surrounding vegetation here was richer with deep red hibiscus flowers growing wildly along the roadsides alternating with tall shoots of bamboo. Our descent was steady until we reach the most stunning emerald shaded rice terraces on the island. The area of Jatiluwih has been relatively untouched by technology and comprises of literally acres of fertile land with a minimum of houses scattered in between. We had a rest at a small hillside café constructed from rods of bamboo and were served cups of sweet muddy Balinese coffee.
The last leg of our trek the drivers must have been hungry as we spiraled down from the mountainous location through villages of smiling children to our lunch destination at the Ayung River Rafting headquarters. Set on the lush sloping riverbank, the area is home to a host of chattering monkeys and a handful of regally poised camels who have adapted perfectly to their tropical environment. After a delicious buffet lunch downed with icy cold drinks we were offered the chance to participate in the afternoon river raft. On a full stomach nobody had the energy to venture the stone steps down the bank to the river. So we sat back and relaxed in the restaurant with its backdrop of splendid greenery.
The flexibility of the drivers from VW Safari’s makes a refreshing change from normal tours. They are quite willing to stop off for photos or anywhere that happens to catch the guests’ eye. There is none of the usual mundane stops at the overpriced art shops and silver dealers, where prices are hiked to give guides a slice in the commission pie.
On the trip back our group was more than a little merry, noses reddened from exposure to the sun and drunk from the sights and sounds of the ‘real’ Balinese countryside. The sky overhead was darkening with rain lurking close by. It was time to put up the canvas tops and return home.
Go Topless – VW Safari Tours operate daily with both half and full day tours starting at a very reasonably priced US $ 65. 00 Max. 3 passengers / car. The tour we experienced was the Tabanan Tour and guests have the option at the end of the day to stop off at Jimbaran Bay, in the south of Bali, for a succulent beachside BBQ dinner at the Bamboo and Baruna Seafood Café. An alternate route is the Kintamani tour, which also travels through some splendid natural terrain and stopping off at places of interest.
Go Topless – VW Safari Tours is a wonderful visual experience with perfect scenery for budding photographers. If you can handle windblown hair and the roar of the vehicle’s 25-year-old engine, then you’re in for a great day out. Sunscreen and cameras are a must. For further information, simply contact us.