The Hidden Canyon in Bali: What to expect?
Although the Hidden Canyon in Bali is growing in popularity, it is still a relatively unknown attraction to the average tourist. Which is possibly why we (and many others) ended up on a rather unexpected journey through the jungle!
When we arrived at the Hidden Canyon, we didn’t have a great deal of knowledge about what to expect. We’d been travelling around Bali for some time and had visited a number of waterfalls which generally involved a hike through the jungle to reach, so imagined this being a similar deal.
Although we came prepared with all our usual gear for a waterfall trek (rashies, a dry bag, deet and reef shoes) we were surprised that there were some rustic lockers and changing rooms available. Already it was looking highly likely that we were going to get wet!
Do you need a guide?
It was recommended that we take a guide, but we were a bit skeptical as this ‘service’ is quite commonly offered at tourist attractions around Bali and usually isn’t necessary. But after speaking to the locals at the entrance, we took their advice – which was a wise move as we were about to find out!
Our guide explained that we would make our way through the canyon for up to 3km by climbing along the rocks and swimming. It sounded idyllic, but as soon as we reached the River Oos it was clear that this was not going to be a walk in the park. We were in Bali towards the end of rainy season and the water was gushing through the ravine.
Right from the get-go, our guide was brilliant. He spoke little English but it really didn’t matter, as he began to show us the ropes by pointing out what to do, where to step and how to grip onto the rocks. His main concern at all times was our safety.
Canyoning through the jungle
To make our way through the ravine, we had to scramble along the rugged canyon. It didn’t take long before we were clinging on to its sides. Slowly we crept blindly along a narrow ledge which was impossible to make out in the murky water gushing past our knees.
With its unusual rock formations and incredibly tropical setting, the Hidden Canyon in Bali is every nature-lover and adventurers dream. The setting feels like something out of a movie, conjuring up images of Indiana Jones as you are completely surrounded by exotic flora and fauna and sounds of the beautiful Balinese jungle.
We were glad to have brought along our dry bag and waterproof phone case but were kicking ourselves that we didn’t pack the GoPro as this would have been the perfect opportunity! Our guide encouraged us to stop and take photos at every possibility, capturing moments of this fantastic hidden fantasy world that we found ourselves in.
Although our guide was tackling the canyon barefoot (he was clearly a pro) we were relieved to have packed our reef shoes. The rocks underfoot weren’t slippery but their surface was uneven and we could feel sharp corners through our rubber bottomed shoes.
Before we knew it, we were almost neck deep in the river and couldn’t see below our chests. It was difficult to know how deep the water was but our guide pointed out where to step so that we’d follow suit. As we hopped across underwater rocks, I accidentally missed one and ended up sinking into a hole that was around 4 metres deep, loosing my sunnies in the process.
White water rafting…minus the raft
At one point we had to cross over to the opposite side of the ravine. This was quite a challenge as the river was running fast and the force of the water was strong. Our guide demonstrated his technique by hurling himself diagonally across the water and then swimming to the other side, grabbing onto the rocks with significant strength.
He waited as Claire took the first leap, and held out his hand to grab her as she catapulted herself across the river. Although petrified, she made it look quite easy so as I took my turn I expected to reach the other side with no problem, but somehow managed to misjudge the jump and ended up being dragged down by the forceful current. The guide came wading in after me and grabbed my arm, but lost his own footing in the process. We both ended up being swept along the river for a few metres as Claire looked on in horror!
Only 1 km to go!
After nearly two hours of pure adrenaline and both physical and mental demand, Claire had pretty much reached her enjoyment limit. I was loving the entire experience but admittedly was feeling a bit exhausted and thirsty. We had 1km to go. Our guide asked whether we wanted to carry on. Taking some time to rest and make a decision, we could see another couple of tourists making their way towards us with their guide. It was the first time we’d seen anybody else during the entire trek!
We watched as they made the same jump across the river and were quickly catching up to us. This spurred me on to continue with the final kilometre. The last bit was significantly easier and it wasn’t long before we’d made it over a bamboo bridge and onto solid ground again.
Just before we reached the main pathway there was one last moment of fun in the jungle. A rope swing! Obviously we couldn’t resist. It was most fitting end to our 3 hour adventure through the Hidden Canyon in Bali.
Where is the Hidden Canyon in Bali?
The Hidden Canyon is located in the small town of Sukawati in Gianyar, which is famous for its Arts Market. Situated conveniently between Ubud and Sanur it is very easy to reach by bike, car and taxi. It is often referred to as Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang.
Address: Jl Sahadewa, Banjar Wangbung, Guwang, Sukawati, Guwang, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
What to pack for the Hidden Canyon
First and foremost, we highly recommend not taking an valuables with you unless you can keep them safe from water. We took a dry bag, however the guides also have their own and will be very willing to carry anything extra for you.
You’ll definitely want to take lots of photos and videos, as this is a really unique experience in an amazing setting. A GoPro or waterproof action camera is best, but if you only have a phone, make sure it’s secured in a waterproof case. It is very easy to accidentally drop stuff in the river and it is inevitable that things are going to get wet!
After completing the trek, it is possible to use a basic dip mandi shower back at base so you may want to bring along a travel towel, soap and a change of clothes which you can store in the lockers.
What to wear
The guides complete the trek barefoot and will encourage you to do the same, but unless you have soles as hard as an elephants, we really recommend reef shoes! We love and use the Mares Equator booties.
We weren’t aware of how much time we would spend in the water and as it turns out, the majority of the trek involves wading, therefore swimwear is definitely advised. However the area is sacred to the Balinese, so dress appropriately and cover up with rash guards / shorts and t-shirt.
How much is it?
You will need to pay for the Hidden Canyon with cash, so come prepared. The admission fee is 15,000 IDR pp and the guide fee is 120,000 IDR. We also gave our guide a tip of 50,000 IDR as he was fantastic from start to finish. They work incredibly hard and from our experience, you will be well taken care of.
Best time to visit
As with all attractions in Bali – get there as early as possible to avoid any crowds. Although due to its challenging conditions and that the Hidden Canyon in Bali is still relatively under the average tourist radar, there won’t be hoards of people.
We arrived around 9am and apart from one other couple right at the end, we had the entire canyon all to ourselves, which made the experience even more special.
During monsoon season it may not be possible to access the canyon and has been known to close when the river is too strong, making the route inaccessible.
Should you visit the Hidden Canyon in Bali?
We consider ourselves to be relatively in shape and young (ish!) individuals, but in order to complete this trek you must be physically fit and able.
This experience is for an adventurous individual who enjoys taking some risks. There are a few hairy moments, so if you don’t like rock climbing or crossing murky rivers neck deep, then this is probably not for you… With that being said, we still managed it 😉
What we loved most was the sense of an authentic adventure, deep in the jungle. It’s a challenge, but its worth it!
Have you been to the Hidden Canyon in Bali? What is your most unexpected adventure and why? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below 😄