Story and infographics by Junanto Xu
Have you travelled to Bali and was impressed by its spectacular landscape, stunning beaches, exotic culture, lush rice terraces and magnificent volcanic slope of Mount Agung?
But did you know that despite Bali’s fame as an exotic tropical getaway, the island is slowly losing its magic?
With so many tourists flocking here, Bali is under a major threat of losing its authenticity. Green paddy fields here are turning into luxurious villas and hotels, culture is seen as a money-making resource and nature is heavily polluted due to excessive use of resources (such as water).
Also read: Best of Bali: 77 Extraordinary things to do that will make you more of an expert than your tour guide
What’s even more disheartening is the fact that locals don’t even have a voice in deciding its own island development and destiny.
Are we as tourists destroying this once-dreamy travel destination?
To reduce the negative impact of tourism, some local communities are starting to develop more sustainable systems to protect the environment and their culture, and ecotourism is one of the ways in which this can be done.
Keen to know how you can contribute in Bali? Here’s 9 ecovillages that are making a difference on the island!
1. The exotic glamping experience – Baliwoso Educamp
If you’re a passionate camper looking for a heartwarming and meaningful authentic experience in Bali, Baliwoso is the perfect place for you.
Hidden in Pengotan village, Baliwoso is where travellers can glamp (otherwise known as ‘glamorous camping’) while experiencing the authentic Bali culture.
From adrenaline-pumping adventures such as river tubing and forest trekking, to genuine cultural experiences such as learning Balinese dance and playing the traditional musical instrument gamelan, there’s something for everyone.
In every activity, you’ll get to interact with the locals, and they will tell you all about how they conserve their natural resources.
And don’t miss the annual Lobong Picnic, one of the largest events at Baliwoso. You will get to enjoy endless entertainment organised by the local villagers, such as games, competitions, traditional dances and even unique food stalls!
Lounge around on comfy beanbags with food, drinks and live music, and simply mingle and chat with the friendly locals!
In fact, they will make you feel so welcome, you will feel like you are part of the community! Isn’t that simply the best way to encourage travellers to help conserve their natural environment and culture too?2. The home of the indigenous Balinese – Tenganan Pegringsingan
Located 55 kilometers from the heart of Bali, Tenganan Pegringsingan is one of the oldest villages on the island where the indigenous Balinese (also known as the Bali Aga) reside.
Here, you can encounter and experience the authentic Balinese culture, which has vanished in most other local villages.
A famous folklore of Tenganan Pegringsingan dates back to the 14th Century. At that time, a king had lost his favorite horse and ordered all of his subordinates to find it. The horse was eventually found lifeless by the king’s advisor, Ki Patih Tunjung Biru.
To reward Tunjung Biru, the king promised him a land as far as anyone could smell the carrion of the horse. The quick-witted Tunjung Biru cut the carrion into pieces and scattered them as far as he could, so he could receive a large area of land. And that land is now known as the Tenganan Pegringsingan.
Now, Tenganan Pegringsingan still remains authentic and is very eager to introduce its culture to travellers. But besides being an ancient village, Tenganan Pegringsingan is also a classic example of an eco-village.
The villagers understand the importance of preserving their local agricultural industry, and its leaders have been ensuring that the influx of tourists doesn’t have negative impacts on the villages’ culture and lifestyle. This, of course, is a very impressive practice because if tourism stops generating sufficient income for the villagers, they would still be able to depend on their own agriculture for survival.
Unfortunately, tourism has brought some negative impacts. According to a few visitors, some residents (especially the art vendors) have started to become more mercenary towards tourists, such as when visitors didn’t purchase any merchandise, they were treated unpleasantly.
Want to learn more about this village before visiting? Check out this video: