Blog - Bali Waterfall Photography – Sekumpul Guide
Sekumpul waterfall is a natural wonder located in the north of Bali. It's a photographer's paradise surrounded by lush vegetation, offering endless opportunities for landscape photography. In this Sekumpul photography guide, we explore this incredible waterfall, how to get there, and how to photograph it.
If you follow my articles, you know I love to photograph tropical waterfalls. On Bali, you find countless of those, and one of the best is the Sekumpul waterfall.
The Sekumpul waterfall in the north of Bali
Because it's one of the most popular waterfalls in Bali, you have to arrive early to photograph it. Its popularity also makes a visit quite pricey, and if you're not careful and buy your ticket at the wrong booth, you will pay extra.
How to Get To Sekumpul
Although Bali is not very large, driving along the mountainous roads takes time. And while you can rent a scooter and drive to Sekumpul, I wouldn't recommend it if you stay in the Canggu or Ubud area.
As I already mentioned, you should arrive at the waterfall early, which means driving there in the dark. Ideally, you arrive at Sekumpul between 7 am and 8 am before the crowds. From Ubud or Canggu, this already takes more than two hours in a car.
The best option for landscape photographers is to hire a driver for a day and plan an itinerary that includes a few more attractions. A driver will cost you around $50, and you can visit multiple locations in the comfort of a car.
To find a driver, ask at your hotel, Airbnb, or go by recommendations. There's no shortage of drivers, but you want one you can trust to pick you up early and drive safely.
I got our recommendation from the driver who took us from Sawarna to Jakarta a few weeks earlier.
The Hidden waterfall next to Sekumpul
Once you've hired a driver, give him the proper coordinates. There are different entrances to Sekumpul, and there are also several ticket booths on the way there. Some of those are many kilometers from Sekumpul.
Their setup might make you think you've arrived at the official entrance. But if you buy your ticket there, you're in for a ride on the back of a motorbike that'll cost you extra. Since you have a driver, this is not necessary. The road to the official entrance is paved and doesn't require motorbikes.
Tell your driver to head to Spice restaurant. It is the farthest you can go by car. If no parking is available, the driver can drop you off and then park at the main parking lot, where the official hike starts.
Sekumpul Waterfall Hike
If you were to start your hike at the main parking lot, you would likely have to pay a guide. Hiring a guide is the official way of visiting Sekumpul, with three options to choose from:
- View Only – With 20000 IDR per person, it's the cheapest option but not worth the long drive.
- Medium Hike – This option comes at 125000 IDR and includes visiting the Sekumpul and the hidden waterfall. It is a great option for landscape photographers.
- Long Hike – At 200000 IDR per person, this option includes the Fiji waterfall. It's a good addition if you didn't plan anything else for the day. But judging from photos of it, I'd say that the hidden waterfall and Sekumpul are more photogenic.
While it's great to support the local economy, I would have preferred to just buy an entrance ticket. The medium hike is easy enough, and I always feel rushed if somebody waits for me while I compose my photos. Our guide could have led at least one or two additional tours during that time.
That's why I suggest driving to Spice restaurant and starting the hike from there. You'll save one kilometer of walking, and you'll skip most of the guides.
Directly before the Spice restaurant, head left. You'll first walk along a narrow paved road toward a set of stairs leading down to the river. During this part of the hike, you'll pass a little booth where you might get asked to hire a guide if someone is around. But when we went past in the morning, nobody was there.
Shortly after, you'll get your first glimpse of Sekumpul. Less than 10 minutes later, you should have reached the base of the stairs.
Here, you have two options: Follow the path left toward the hidden waterfall – there's a sign indicating where to go. Or cross the creek and continue to Sekumpul. Since you have to wade through water several times, bring water shoes and be careful on the dark rocks surrounding the waterfalls. Those can get slippery.
You and your gear will get wet while photographing Sekumpul. There's a lot of spray in front of the waterfall, and you should bring enough lens cloths. An umbrella will also help. With it, you can apply the technique I show in the video below. I recorded it at Kapas Biru waterfall on Java Island.
In terms of composition, there are two little rivers to choose from when looking for foreground interest. I found the creek to the left to offer a better view of the waterfall, with some nice rocks and currents in the foreground. But make sure to explore on your own and take your time.
The hidden waterfall is not so hidden at all. A sign at the base of the stairs indicates where to go. From Sekumpul, it's less than 10 minutes of walking. Be prepared to cross a knee-deep river.
At the hidden waterfall, you have even more photo options than at the larger Sekumpul. It's a beautiful area, and I could have spent hours photographing it. If you arrive before 10 am, you can also witness the sun lighting up the waterfall and the canyon for a few minutes. It creates a magical atmosphere.
Bali Waterfall Photography Itinerary
You can combine a visit to Sekumpul with other attractions along the way. Here's an example itinerary for someone starting in Ubud or Canggu:
- 4:30 am – Start in Ubud or Canggu
- 5:45 am – Arrive at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
- 6:15 am – Photograph Sunrise
- 6:45 am – Continue toward Sekumpul
- 7:45 am – Start hike to Sekumpul
- 8:15 am – Start photographing Sekumpul and the hidden waterfall
- 10:30 am – Hike back to the parking lot and drive to Banyu Wana Amertha
- 12:15 pm – Arrive at Banyu Wana Amertha and start the hike
- 12:30 am – Photograph the Banyu Wana Amertha
- 1:15 pm – Photograph the Spray Waterfall
- 2:00 pm – Head back to the car
- 2:30 pm – Drive to Leke Leke
- 3:30 pm – Arrive at Leke Leke and start the hike
- 3:45 pm – Photograph Leke Leke
- 4:45 pm – Drive back to Ubud or Canggu
The Banyu Wana Amertha waterfall
I had planned the tour like this but found that after photographing the Spray waterfall, I had enough for the day and went back to Ubud. If you have the endurance and your driver is ok with it, this is how you squeeze the most photography out of such a day. If you're up for it and stay in Canggu, end the day with seascape photography at Tanah Lot Temple.
Since this is more than a typical day for a driver, you should not bargain too much and give him more than $50.
Bali offers a lot more waterfalls than the few featured in this article. Since I only stayed in Ubud for a few days, I didn't have time to visit all of them. Based on what I could learn online, I chose the waterfalls that seemed to be the most photogenic for my exploration.
But you can easily stay more than two weeks in Bali for photography alone and not get bored. And there are not only waterfalls to photograph. There are lush forests, mountains, rice paddies, and dramatic seascapes, so bring enough time.