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Although most people cross the mountains via Candikuning or Kintamani, there is a very scenic third alternative that links Bali’s south and north coasts. From the Denpasar–Gilimanuk road in west Bali, a road goes north from Antosari through the village of Pupuan and then drops down to Seririt, west of Lovina in north Bali.
Starting through rice paddies, after 8km the road runs alongside a beautiful valley of rice terraces. Another 2km brings you to Sari Wisata, where a charming family has created what should be the model for roadhouses everywhere. Gorgeous gardens line the bluff and only enhance the already remarkable vistas. (Did somebody tell the rice farmers to wear red so they pop from the fields of green?) Snacks and drinks are available, and outside you’ll find some remarkably healthy and furry bats literally hanging around in the sun.
Once you’re deep in the foothills of Gunung Batukau, 20km north of Antosari, you’ll smell the fragrant spice-growing village of Sanda before you see it. Look for the old wooden elevated rice barns that still feature in every house.
After another 8km north through coffee plantations, you’ll reach Pupuan. From here it is 12km or so to Mayong, where you can turn east to Munduk and on to Danau Bratan or go straight on to Seririt.