Solar eclipse travelogue: Trekking Bali’s terraced rice fields

Senior Editor Richard Talcott shares his journey across Indonesia with Astronomy magazine readers ahead of the March 9 total solar eclipse.
By | Published: March 5, 2016 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The temple of Ulun Danu lies in the waters of Lake Bratan.
Evelyn Talcott
On our second full day in Indonesia, we ventured from the warm, tropical beaches of southern Bali to the island’s slightly cooler central highlands. The day started out sunny but grew cloudier as we climbed higher. All of us on this tour organized by TravelQuest, Astronomy magazine’s travel partner, would be satisfied if the sunny mornings continue through next week, because the total solar eclipse we all came to see happens early on March 9.

Our first stop today took us to the Hindu temple of Ulun Danu, located in a dramatic setting on the shores of Lake Bratan with Mount Beratan lurking beyond. (Although, truth be told, the mountain was largely hidden in the clouds.) Intriguingly, a small shrine for Buddhist worshippers shares the temple grounds.

The terraced rice fields of Jatiluwih stretch across the hilly terrain of central Bali.
Evelyn Talcott
From there, we headed to the famous rice fields of Jatiluwih. Using the traditional subak irrigation system, developed in Bali in the 9th century, the entire area functions as a single ecosystem. The terraced fields seem to go on forever, which is a good thing because the Balinese like their rice. It’s no wonder that the region has been named a UNESCO Cultural Landscape. And I’m sure we’ll be enjoying some of the region’s bounty at dinner this evening.