Lombok - The under-rated and unheard neighbor of Bali
Lombok is an Indonesian island east of Bali. If you ever wonder how Bali looked many years back before tourism hit the island, then Lombok is the place. With many beautiful beaches, waterfalls , snorkeling spots and mountains, Lombok has everything to boast about. You will be amazed with the diversity that this island has, everything you could ask for.
HOW TO GET TO LOMBOK?
Lombok has an international airport and has flights going from India, however there are only 2 airlines which fly there from India, Airasia and Singapore airlines . Airasia works out to be the better option since it has less stopover, but make sure to pre-book your luggage and food since its expensive in later stage. If you are already in bali then lombok can be reached by a ferry or fast boat. Many boats go there while stopping at Gili islands on the way. Click this link for booking flights.
PLACES TO SEE IN LOMBOK
Lombok is a big island and staying at one place and doing day trips isnt feasible since most of the time will go in travelling. Hence it is recommended to start off with south lombok beaches since it is closer to airport. My local friend/tour guide ADE came from Bali to Lombok to show me all beautiful places here.
1. SOUTH LOMBOK BEACHES
This is the best beach i have ever seen. Super white sand, crystal clear water and that lovely mountain at the back makes for a perfect panoramic view.
This beach hardly has any foreign tourists and gives the feel of a private beach most of the time.
Tanjung Aan and Merese Hill :
Tanjung Aan is another beautiful beach in south lombok and is more famous and crowded than others. Merese Hill gives a lovely view of this beach from the top.
Affiliate link for the backpack is pasted below :)
There is a lovely swing on Tanjung Aan beach, where you can stop for some nice pictures. There are more beaches in south lombok which are very beautiful like Selong belanak, Mawi beach. Due to time constraints i could not visit them.
2. SECRET GILI'S IN SOUTH-WEST LOMBOK
This has to be the biggest surprise of my entire trip. I dint expect this place to be sooo beautiful and unexplored. Shadowed by the famous Gili's ( Trawangan, Air and Meno), this place is a hidden treasure. There are many Gili's in Southwest lombok, however i visited only Gili Gede, Gili Layar and Gili Ringgit. The boat i boarded was such a cool small yellow coloured boat, owned by Ade's friend.
We started off with snorkeling near Gili Gede and then took a halt to explore the island. There were a few accomodations there out of which Kokomo resort looked really luxurious for couples. The underwater life is really beautiful and corals look amazing. After exploring Gili Gede, we went on to snorkeling near Gili Ringgit, which is famous for spotting huge turtles. Unfortunately we couldnt find any turtles that day. Below is the pic of me holding a blue starfsh.
Our last stop was Gili Layar, where we stopped to eat something and drink coconut water.
We bought some bread and left for snorkeling straight from the beach :O i was pretty shocked since usually we need to go a bit far from the shore to see fishes and corals. But Gili Layar gave me the best surprise. We started from the beach and within no time we could see 1000's of fishes in water, so close to the shore.
This was the best spot for me out of the three, only because we could see so many fishes so close to the shore. Was really happy with the local crew consisting of my Bali friend Ade, boatman and owner of the boat for showing me such beautiful snorkel spots and clicking pictures and recording on GoPro.
3. NORTH LOMBOK WATERFALLS
North of lombok is completely different from south of Lombok. It boasts huge number of waterfalls and mountains and is famous for Mount Rinjani which is an active volcano. I was accompanied by Surya who was a local from Lombok and was a friend of ADE. Surya had good contacts in North Lombok and guaranteed cheapest price for me. The most famous waterfalls in North Lombok are Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep Waterfalls. I had heard alot about entry fee scams in this place, the locals say it is compulsory to take a guide and charge tourists when the truth is the waterfall trip is do-able without a guide. However based on the suggestion of Ade , we took a local guide with us who was a 17 year old boy. He showed us the way to the waterfalls and even told stories related to the waterfalls. The first waterfall was Sendang Gile and it took around 15 mins of soft trekking to get there.
It wasnt the best waterfall, but the next waterfall Tiu Kelep is the most famous waterfall in lombok. It took around 30 mins of soft trekking and river crossing 2-3 times to get there. To my surprise, there were 15-20 small kids of less than 10 years standing in the river, forming a chain to help the tourists cross the river holding their hands. They dint ask for tip but it is upto the tourist to tip them. Tiu Kelep waterfall isnt like other waterfalls, it consists of many waterfalls and a huge flow of water on top of other waterfalls.
The waterfall was really big and powerful and it was very difficult to walk against the flow of water. Also it is not allowed to swim near the bigger waterfall because the force can easily drown the person. Also the mist around the waterfall is soo much that it makes impossible to click a pic without the phone getting wet. After enjoying a dip we left the place and my guide made a nice crown like thing for me from one of the tree leaves.
He told me that he goes to school and works part time as a guide here so that he can help his mother and earn something. I am glad that i chose the guide option since the amount would be small for us but for them its their living, also the guide helps to carry your bag, help cross the river and click pics for you, so its worth it.
MANGKU SAKTI WATERFALL
This had to be the most awaited waterfall of my trip, but i had no idea that it would be so challenging to reach here. After having lunch near Tiu kelep waterfall, we reached near the ticket office of Mangku Sakti. It takes 30-40 mins of risky bike ride and then 30 mins of trekking to reach Magku Sakti waterfall after parking the car near the entrance. Surya spoke to the locals at the entrance and the price they said was 100K for renting a scooter to go further. After long discussion they agreed for 80k if Surya was riding the scooter. This has to be the worst and most scary bike ride of my life. Luckily Surya was a strong man and he handled the bike really well, otherwise it would have been impossible to reach without falling down. The road was really bad with big rocks in between and only an expert bike rider would be able to ride here without injuring themselves. There was literally no one around for 30 mins and we were in the middle of jungle, was regretting to pay so much at some point. So around 30-40 mins of butt hurting bike ride we reached parking area, couldnt imagine how tiring it would have been for Surya if i was so tired just sitting behind and doing nothing. From the parking area, Mangku sakti was around 30 mins walking distance. We literally ran the whole way because it was already 5pm and we dint want to go back in dark in that road. It was surprising how the background changed from complete jungle to limestone rocks and we could hear waterfall sound and knew something really beautiful is waiting for us. After reaching the place, i could see the magical glimpse of Mangku Sakti waterfall and the thought of regretting to come here changed into the best decision ever taken. Here is how magical this waterfall looked :
Couldnt resist to get closer to this waterfall as quickly as possible. It is said that taking a dip in this water is good for skin. This has to be the best shot of my entire trip, what could be better than having such a magical place all by urself?
Wanted to spend more time here but at the same time wanted to reach at the entrance before it gets dark. If someone told me i had to pay 100K for bike rental + bike driver for this watefall i would have thought a bit, but looking at the location and the complexity to reach here, it was well worth it. Mangku Sakti waterfall is a hidden gem and only the ones who love adventure will visit this waterfall, no wonder there werent any tourists here. Was so happy that i took the right decision of visiting this waterfall because places that are hard to reach are usually the ones that are extra beautiful and unexplored. The journey back was equally painful but the memories of this waterfall made even the painful journey comfortable.
4. NORTH LOMBOK MOUNTAINS & HILLS
There are many hills and mountains in North Lombok close to Mount Rinjani. The homestay in which i stayed for a night gave beautiful view of Mount Rinjani in the morning.
We had lovely banana pancake prepared by the lady in the homestay and left to explore Bukit Selong . I had seen this hill in instagram profiles of many bloggers and knew that i had to visit this place at any cost. Bukit Selong gives a nice view of the rice fields from the top. Bukit means Hill in indonesian.
The view from the top was so amazing with Pergasingan Hill in the background and the beautiful rice fields. On trekking further, comes a place perfect for all instagrammers.
The star shaped stage is specially made for all instagram loving people :D The other side of this hill gives a beautiful panaromic view of the North Lombok town with Rinjani Mountain in the background.
The entrance fee was around 50 INR for foreigners and it was a deal with 0 tourists around for such a beautiful place. his was my last day with Ade and Surya and they dropped me at Bangsal harbour from where the public ferries leave for Gili Islands. Bangsal Harbour was another place which was known to scam the tourists and having locals with me was really helpful. They made sure i wasnt overcharged by locals and stayed there till i got into the ferry.
LOVELY PEOPLE OF LOMBOK
People in Lombok love Indians and Bollywood songs and movies. I was surprised to see so much love for Bollywood songs and actors esp Shah Rukh Khan in Lombok.
3-4 people literally sang his song Chaiiya Chaiiya which impressed me since it is such an old song and they still listen to it. Met so many locals in Lombok who felt proud when someone visited their country and were really happy to see a tourist from India.
Ade and Surya made my Lombok trip hassle free and at very reasonable cost. Left for Gili islands with such beautiful memories of Lombok.
Here is my mandatory thank you post for lovely Lombok island and its people.