Getting Giddy at Gitgit Waterfall
It’s hard to go wrong with jungle waterfalls, even when you visit them in the pouring rain.
We arrived to Gitigt Waterfall, deep in the hills of interior Bali, in the middle of an absolute downpour. And I, the idiot that I am, had forgotten my rain jacket at the hostel. Our poor guide (you don't need a guide by the way, we just happened to book a tour that had one. You also don't need a tour, but if you don't have your own transportation its the way to go) met the car, wearing a poncho and looking thoroughly miserable. My friend Alyssa and I, meanwhile, stared out in trepidation from our dry seats. We kept glancing at one another with looks of “uh, do we really go out in that?” gracing our faces. But finally we came to our senses, remembered that its only water and we were in freaking Bali, and we hopped out.
Alyssa had a small umbrella, and our guide had his aforementioned poncho, but dumbass me was stuck walking through the monsoon with nothing as I fondly thought of my jacket back at the hostel. This was made all the more annoying because I was wearing glasses rather than my usual contacts, which resulted in my vision becoming obscured by rain drops quite quickly. Our guide watched me as we walked, eyes rolling about as hard as human eyes can roll. After a couple of minutes, he went over to an Elephant Ear plant (so-called because the leaves are massive), picked one of its giant leaves, and handed it to me as a natural umbrella. I couldn't stop giggling while I held the leaf, but I also felt very guilty. I was raised by a naturalist and the idea that my mistake led to a plant being harmed is something I still feel bad about. That being said, I would have never picked it and the guide at the park did it. This leads me to either assume its ok to have done it, or that Indonesian conservation efforts aren't as high-quality as American.
The bizarre combination of guilt and amusement aside, this was also a reminder of just how wonderfulMother Nature is. After all, this was a heavy rain and yet a leaf - a LEAF! - kept me from getting wet (well, more wet).
Anyways, leaf umbrella in hand, we made our way along the trail. It hugged the edge of the mountain, so as we walked we enjoyed the view of the jungle expanse around us. We passed a few vendors with children who literally chased us in order to try to get us to buy their various wares. Sorry kiddos. We then paid our entrance fee (20,000 Rupiah, which is $1.40) and continued into the jungle.
It was not a long walk - about 10 minutes - from the entrance area with the vendors to the waterfall itself. As we got closer and the sound of rushing water grew louder, our guide turned around and said that due to the heavy rains the water was not its usual self. I figured he meant that the river were more full than usual, and I was excited to see a heavy waterfall. But what he actually meant was that the river was nothing but mud. I’ve never seen such muddy water. I stopped and watched in fascination as it boiled under the rain.
As our guide waited for us to stop gaping at the scene, he noticed a river shrimp flopping around in a small puddle. He pointed it out to us, and then scooped it up and moved it....to a larger puddle. I am no river shrimp expert so I can't tell you why he put it in another puddle rather than back in the river but whatever. This is the same guide who picked a leaf for me, after all.
We walked across an admittedly weak-looking bridge over the churning brown water to get to the actual waterfall. Due to the brown color, it wasn't as impressive as it might otherwise have been. I'll say though, I'd never seen a muddy waterfall before so that was nifty, We took lots of pictures of it (and of me with my leaf because come on, that's a photo opportunity if there ever was one), and then went back across the janky bridge to safety.
Nearby were several other, smaller waterfalls that were not muddy, so we still got our clear-watered waterfalls as they gently cascaded down the hillside. Around us were the typical Balinese 'photo-op-bench-for-money' spots, which we didn’t take advantage of. They're just pretty places where they've stuck some cheesy sign or statue (in one of the cases here, a large heart) that you can take your picture with. If that's your thing, the cost is quite cheap.
All in all, Gitgit Waterfall was a lovely stop. The amount of mud in the boiling water was fascinating to observe, and the ridiculous umbrella I had made the stop even more memorable. If you arrive to better weather, swimming is an option. Just river shrimps you might encounter along the way!