Rendang to Amlapura
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A fascinating road goes around the southern slopes of Gunung Agung from Rendang almost to Amlapura. It runs through some superb countryside, descending more or less gradually as it goes east. Water flows everywhere and there are rice fields, orchards and carvers of stones for temples most of the way.
Cyclists enjoy the route and find going east to be a breezier ride.
You can get to the start of the road in Rendang from Bangli in the west on a very pretty road through rice terraces and thick jungle vegetation. Rendang itself is an attractive mountain village; the crossroads are dominated by a huge and historic banyan tree. After going east for about 3km, you’ll come into a beautiful small valley of rice terraces. At the bottom is Sungai Telagawaja, a popular river for white-water rafting.
The old-fashioned village of Muncan has quaint shingle roofs. It’s approximately 4km along the winding road. Note the statues at the west entrance to town showing two boys: one a scholar and one showing the naked stupidity of skipping class. Nearby are scores of open-air factories where the soft lava rock is carved into temple decorations.
The road then passes through some of the most attractive rice country in Bali before reaching Selat, where you turn north to get to Pura Pasar Agung, a starting point for climbing Gunung Agung. Puri Agung Inn has six clean and comfortable rooms; the inn has views of rice fields and stone carvers. You can arrange rice-field walks here or climbs up Gunung Agung with local guide Yande.
Just before Duda, the very scenic Sidemen road branches southwest via Sidemen to Semarapura. Further east, a side road (about 800m) leads to Putung. This area is superb for hiking: there’s an easy-to-follow track from Putung to Manggis, about 8km down the hill.
Continuing east, Sibetan is famous for growing salak, the delicious fruit with a curious ‘snakeskin’ covering, which you can buy from roadside stalls. This is one of the villages you can visit on tours and homestays organised by JED, the nonprofit group that promotes rural tourism.
Northeast of Sibetan, a poorly signposted road leads north to Jungutan, with its Tirta Telaga Tista – a decorative pool and garden complex built for the water-loving old rajah of Karangasem.
The scenic road finishes at Bebandem, which has a cattle market every three days, and plenty of other stuff for sale as well. Bebandem and several nearby villages are home to members of the traditional metal-worker caste, which includes silversmiths and blacksmiths.