Shades Of Green At Jatiluwih

Published 01 March 2017   

Text: Zia Aussum

“This is the craziest shade of green I’ve ever seen. If J.Crew named this colour they’d call it something like ‘neon avocado’ or ‘Java lime’ and even then, the name would never adequately capture the incredible fluorescent quality of this green.”

I’m standing at the start of the trekking routes of Jatiluwih, UNESCO-protected rice fields in the west of Bali, designated thanks to their role in the island’s subak water system – a unique water management cooperative dating back to the 9th century. My travel companion is Daniela Andrews, a Canadian writer and traveller who recently discovered the impressive site and is still bowled over by the vibrant colours and incredible views. “This colour is unique to Bali,” she says, “You won’t find this in a Crayola box, not even the 64-colour super pack. This shade only exists on the Island of the Gods.”

At first glance the colour is indeed spellbinding, and in fact varied. Jatiluwih encompasses over 600 hectares of rice fields at the foot of Mount Batukaru and each plot is at a different stage in the growth process, creating a patchwork of absinthe, apple, moss, celadon, citron, jade, emerald, and lime.

Walking paths and plot dividers crisscross the landscape, providing access for farmers and tourists alike, though you won’t find many of the latter. Despite its breathtaking beauty, heritage designation, and abundant opportunities for activity and fresh air, Jatiluwih is almost completely devoid of visitors. During our two-hour trek we spot about a dozen tourists, all of them at the very beginning of the paths, where viewing platforms provide plenty of photo op’s without actually having to trek very far – great news for anyone seeking outdoor activities without the crowds. Aside from the occasional local farmer or dragonfly, Jatiluwih is your personal playground, waiting to be discovered.

Stunning scenery. Jatiluwih is nestled at the base of the mountains, offering dramatic views.

There are a variety of trekking routes ranging from short to long, with none more challenging than a leisurely walk among the fields. Leave your hiking poles at home; a pair of trainers will do just fine on these gentle paths. The Red line offers the shortest loop at just 450 metres, with an estimated travel time of 45 minutes (while most of the travel times seem based on a snail’s pace, on the longer routes, a few wrong turns will definitely add to the clock).

Those seeking a longer walk will enjoy the Orange line, 6.1 kilometres that run deep into the fields, and take you past the Besikalung Temple archaeological site. If it feels like you’ve got all the time in the world, try the Orange + Blue loop, a 7.7 kilometre trek estimated at approximately 4 hours from beginning to end. On any route you can set out on your own or with a guide (although if you’re hoping to explore the sacred temple, a local guide is required) and whichever route you choose, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking landscapes and the kind of tranquility and calm most travellers expect from Bali, but rarely find. And that’s where the true beauty of Jatiluwih lies, in an experience that will take you off the beaten path and let you colour (in brilliant shades of green) outside the lines.

Protecting tradition. The fields are UNESCO-protected, designated thanks to their role in the island’s subak water system.

The Jatiluwih rice terraces are located in the Tabanan regency in west Bali. The site can be accessed by motorbike, car, or bus and is approximately a 1h 30m drive from Ubud or a 1h 45m drive from Seminyak/Kuta. There is an entrance fee of IDR 20.000 / person to enter the site.

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