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Entries in bamboo (2)


Why Sumbawa should be on your Eco-Travel Itinerary

The rugged beauty of Sumbawa

Sumbawa is an ultra rugged large landmass with Lombok to the West and Flores to the East.  It’s not to be confused with the island of Sumba, which lies to its South East.  Sumbawa is indeed large. It’s bigger than Bali and Lombok combined (and then some).  The scenic island is hard to get to and does not offer a robust infrastructure, but the adventure loving traveler is rewarded with unspoiled beaches of turquoise waters, world class surf and welcoming and gracious locals.

Bali Sumbawa wellness retreatWatching hundreds of uninhabited islands go by on the ferry ride from Lombok to Sumbawa

Indonesia's Volcanos and The Ring of Fire

It is an island of angular and twisting peninsulas, deep protected bays, forested mountains, and of course Mount Tambora, the infamous volcano that is responsible for killing over 72,000 in one eruption.  Sumbawa, as the rest of the 14,000 Indonesian islands, sits directly upon The Ring of Fire. The infamous explosion took place in April, 1815 and is considered the most destructive volcanic eruption in modern history. It spewed 100 cubic kilometers (24 cu mi) of ash into the atmosphere, causing the “year without summer”.  Very few crops could be produced following the eruption as the ash blocked out the sun causing the deaths of thousands more worldwide.

Bali travel sustainable bambooThe beautiful and plentiful islands off Sumbawa's coast provide endless adventure for the eco-tourist

Sumbawa is a Surfer's Paradise

Historically, Sumbawa was invaded by Western marauders for its honey, wild horses and sandalwood. Today, Sumbawa is known for surfing boasting several world-class surf breaks. The most well known surf spots include Lakey Peak, Cobblestones and Onnie’s Right, but there are many more exceptional breaks like Benete, Nungas, Periscopes, Yo-Yo’s and the ominously and perhaps unfortunately aptly named Scar Reef and Super Suck. Most breaks are for good to experienced surfers but Benete, Lakey, Periscopes and Scar Reef are best left for the more expert level surfers. Sumbawa receives great surf year round but the best swells are generally from April to September. If you are interested, please contact us or research the surf camps at Dompu (Lakey), Sekongkang and Hu’u. One last surf note, tides really determine the conditions here, so it is important to have a tide table handy.

Bali eco-tour surf retreatRipping Surf Breaks Await the Traveling Surfer in Sumbawa

What if you don't surf?

Despite the fact that not many travelers explore this scenic island, it is a wonderful place to visit even if you don't surf.  In fact, Sumbawa’s slogan is B E S A R which means 'big' in Bahasa Indonesia and the letters of the slogan stand for Bersih, Elok, Sehat, Aman damai, Rapi. Roughly translated, that means Clean, Beautiful, Healthy, Peaceful and Neat.

Sadly, the island is not without its challenges. Sumbawa is poor, and health and education are very much at the development stage. The infrastructure is in its nascent stages and there are a couple good roads, but for the most part, travel is difficult across the sprawling island. In just a matter of minutes we almost collided with other cars, dozens of motor bikes, huge pot holes, cows, dogs, cats, chickens, goats, some unidentifiable animals, people just hanging out in the roads and other obstacles.

best bali tour yogaChildren play along the coast overlooking clear turquoise water

To compound the struggles the good people of Sumbawa are faced with, the mega-corporation Newmont and its partners have invested almost $2 billion USD in an enormous copper mine, making Batu Hijau one of the largest mines in the world. Little if anything is done to protect the island and the company is straight raping the land and leaving muddy, polluted messes for the poor native peoples. Newmont has been involved in many scandals including mercury and arsenic poisoning here in Sulawesi not to mention the ongoing pollution cases on four continents.  It is appallingly sad that this continues and permits have already been issued by corrupt politicians to allow further pillaging until 2034.

This blog post continues below

Bali yoga and wellness retreatRugged volcanic rock dot the perfect white sandy beaches of Sumbawa recalling deadly eruptions of Mount Tambora

Sumbawa is a must for the eco-adventure traveler

The pace of life in Sumbawa is chill and slow. People sit together and eat delicious fresh food and enjoy the rustic natural beauty of the island. That is not to say that they are not dedicated and hard working folk. Local people are predominantly Muslim but traditional beliefs and practices also continue to influence daily life. There are two main cultural groups in Sumbawa. Generally, the Tau Samawa live in the west and the Dou Mbojo inhabit the east.

bali adventure travel photographyThe generous and friendly people of Sumbawa enjoy a slow paced lifestyle and appreciate the bounty of beauty that surround them

Traditional living and ancient rituals await the eco-adventure traveler

In parts of Sumbawa, traditional ways of living continue today and I urge you to get out into the villages to observe this interesting way of life. While you are there, see what you can do to help like donate time, clothing, gear or just play with the children and share with them. Many of the ancient rituals are still performed such as water buffalo racing and berempuk, which is an exciting ritual boxing match.  Try to find a guide who can take you into these villages as entering them by yourself may be perceived as unwelcomed.  We can certainly assist you and have some wonderful contacts that would be delighted to help you, as it is difficult to find accommodations and your way around on your own.  Please contact us and we would be happy to help.

bali yoga and wellness photographyGreat Surf, White Sand Beaches and Pristine Water make Sumbawa a perfect adventure for the eco-traveler

Sustainable living and caring for the land

The people have learned to live of the land and have deep respect for the natural resources.  We were lucky to spend time with our extended family and my wife’s uncle, despite his advancing age, is still a ‘super forest man’. I consider myself a capable outdoorsman but I could barely keep up with his pace through the jungle. Treading through dense brush barefoot, finding paths I could never see, with machete in hand showing me all kinds of plants used for shelter, first aid, food, water and more. He has build beautiful, strong and sustainable buildings from bamboo for his family and his coveted bonsai trees are a true work of art.

Only two islands over, Sumbawa is a world away from Bali and its luxurious accommodations but the adventure traveler can learn and experience a great deal on this storied island.  For more information and help planning your adventure to Sumbawa, please contact us today.

wellness retreat center baliHeading back to Bali after an amazing adventure to rugged but beautiful Sumbawa

A huge thank you to the lovely people of Sumbawa and now Back to Bali



In Bali you can be Green AND be pampered in Luxurious Paradise

Balifornian Tours can take you to some of the most forward thinking, eco-conscious spots in all of Asia.  Our Bali tours work with many amazing and green companies, hotels, restaurants and many others.
Some eco-conscious entrepreneurs on Indonesia's Island of the Gods are working to build a future in tune with nature

Idyllic green tourism at The Springs

green living bali springs
The Springs features a cluster of three bedrooms and one reading hut.
While the Green Village offers a permanent greener life in Bali, if you wish simply to step with ecologically friendly footsteps while traveling, Bali also has alternatives offering idyllic and green luxury at affordable prices.

Situated in a valley facing Ubud, the green heart of Bali, The Springs offers lodgings made out of natural materials: coconut wood and bamboo with thatch roofs.

The views are astonishing. There's Mt Agung, Mt Batur and Mt. Abang, rice paddies, a river gorge, all right in front of the private villa cluster which is itself a dirt-track drive from the main streets.

Self-grown menus

green living bali springs
Bedrooms in The Springs are natural but luxurious.
“We have tried to maintain a pristine environment here that would be conducive to people's well-being and inner peace,” says owner Farah Kimball, who recently returned from Iran where she sat on a panel titled "A Culture of Peace" for World Philosophy Day. 

“With that in mind we have developed a restorative and healthy live food menu, have organic vegetables and fruits growing on the property, use natural materials and environmentally friendly buildings,” says Kimball.

The Springs outdoor lights are all solar powered and Kimball is planning to generate all electricity from solar. They have their own well for water usage and created two waste water gardens to ensure no waste pollutes ground or river water.

Ranging from US$275-375 per night, the cluster includes three bedrooms, one reading room, and an expansive deck with open-aired dining table, benches and hammocks.

According to Kimball, "Most people come here to be in the natural paradise setting and for rest from the hustle and bustle of their travels. Some people are of a spiritual bent and find the energy here very powerful."

A private natural pool

green living bali springs
A private pool with natural water faces a waterfall.
Down through fields, guests can enjoy a private plunge pool filled with water flowing from a natural spring.

Cut into the rock-side, the pool overlooks the river Wos and is placed directly across from a waterfall.

"We use almost all natural materials for building and very little cement. We use coconut wood, bamboo, recycled teak, river stones for steps, lava stones in the bathrooms, and local woods (lychee and suar) for counters. Our roofing material is thatch (alang-alang) which we grow and harvest on the property a few times a year," says Kimball.

Located 10 minutes away from Ubud center, The Springs makes sure that even in the natural atmosphere you are still connected to the world with free Wi-Fi and loan of a local mobile phone.

It also makes a convenient base to explore Bali's other green projects, including The Sari Organic and Bali Buddha restaurants, and the protected mangrove park.

Other organizations have also begun tackling local pollution, such as Eco Bali Recycling. Established in 2005 in response to the urgency of waste management problems, it has a team of professionals experienced in environmental and educational programs, and has teamed up with drinks packaging giant Tetra Pak to increase recycling.

Despite the growth of green projects though, Kimball feels there is much yet to improve.

"There is very little trash pick-up so people throw trash by the side of hills or into the river. Pesticides are heavily used in almost all rice growing. Septics are polluting the ground water so people get sick from drinking polluted well water even," says Kimball.

"I applaud the good work of those doing [these projects] but there is still more momentum through education needed to get everyone on the bandwagon," says Kimball.

green living bali springs
The Springs is the perfect green place to put your feet up and enjoy the view.