If you are one of the many, many people who have picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love recently, you are probably (like me) dreaming of a trip to Bali . (And India, and Italy, but we’re talking about Bali today.) Let me suggest that after you make a pilgrimage to Ubud to have your palm read by Ketut, you head a hour and a half southwest to the Tabanan region to find Sarinbuana Eco-Lodge nestled in the slopes of Mount Batukaru.
The winner of Wild Asia’s 2007 Responsible Tourism Awards, Sarinbuana Eco-Lodge provides a home base for the environmentally conscious and the perpetually curious. If you’re ready for a challenge, try a day trek to the summit of the mountain or through the neighboring rain forest with a local guide. Or stick closer to the lodge with tours of the grounds’ organic gardens, “food forests of cocoa, vanilla and coffee,” and local temples. And if that’s not enough activity for you, take a motorbike or car trip to see traditional villages, rice paddies, temples and hot springs.
Manager Linda vant Hoff, who owns the eco-lodge with her husband Norman, says guests should not miss out on the many opportunities to interact with the Balinese people and their beautiful traditions. The lodge can organize workshops for you on everything from Balinese cooking, traditional medicine & costumes to making coconut oil, temple offerings or kites.
Of course, if you like to turn the hamster wheel in your head off during your vacation, you’ll find plenty of opportunity to find peace in the outdoor garden showers (available in the Orchid and Sweet houses), the bamboo tea house, essential oil massages (for just under $7), or swim in the lodge's natural waterfall pools.
Sarinbuana’s three low-impact cottages are all built in the traditional Balinese style, partially out of local trees from the eco-lodge’s property. Energy-saving techniques (solar garden lights, efficient bulbs, torches for night-time lighting) are used throughout. Vant Hoff says they don’t have enough sunlight hours, waterflow, or wind to use current renewable energy technologies, so they keep their energy use as low as possible. They offset their energy use by planting new trees and vetiver on their grounds. Nutrients are harvested from the resorts wastewater to grow bananas. The lodge gardens are designed following permaculture principals.
Guests can order traditional Balinese and Western meals made from produce grown right outside their doors ($3-$7). The lodge has extensive organic gardens with over 90 edible herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits. You can even catch your own dinner in local fresh-water fish ponds or take part in the cooking of your evening meal.
Despite all these eco-accomplishments, Linda is most proud of the 800 hectares they were able to establish as a “No Take” zone (any kind of harvesting is prohibited) through the cooperation of the local village and a grant from Seacology. The grant also led to several other community improvements, including a new meeting hall, computers for the school, and a village office. The lodge’s commitment to community extends to its staff: It hires only local people and trains them in environmental management, housekeeping, English, and other skills necessary for sustainable tourism.
Stay tuned for accomodation details and reading suggestions from Linda tomorrow!