Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan-Bali’s Twin Lakes, Indonesia

Lake Locations:

Indonesia -

Also known as:  Danau Buyan, Danau Tamblingan

Travelers wanting to experience the wild rainforests of Bali’s central highlands will make the trek to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan. The two crater lakes are located within the caldera of extinct Bedugul volcano. They were a single lake until 1800; a landslide separated the lake into two lakes, and a narrow land bridge of less than a mile width divides them. Located at altitudes of nearly 4000 feet, this is the heart of Bali’s farming area, with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and traditional rice paddies covering the nearby slopes. Lake Tamblingan is important in the religious life of the local villagers who earn their livelihoods by fishing, farming and ferrying tourists and the devout by dugout canoe to the 31 temples located near the lake.

Very little is found about these two important lakes in most tourist literature. Tourism is just gaining a foothold in this very traditional area, with most visitors going to better-known Lake Bratan a few miles to the east. Sharing space within the same volcanic caldera, Lake Bratan’s famous water temple is part of the same ancient system of irrigation that provides water to all of the area’s terraced farms and thirsty coffee plantations. Because much of the area is protected land within the 4356-acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, the two lakes are becoming increasingly popular with eco-tourists, bird watchers, mountain trekkers and adventure seekers.

Lake Buyan, locally known as Danau Buyan, covers over 900 acres and reaches depths of 285 feet. At an elevation of 3984 feet, Lake Buyan is actually 10 feet lower than neighboring Lake Tamblingan. Faulty translations often suggest that Lake Buyan is the smallest of Bali’s five highland lakes. It is actually second-largest, next to Lake Bratan. Neighboring Danau Tamblingan is actually the smallest, stretching across about 470 acres, and is a little deeper at 295 feet. Lake Buyan is usually seen first by visitors coming from Lake Bratan or from the little City of Ubud near the south coast. The main road, which runs from Ubud past Lake Bratan, skirts the north shore of the lake along most of its length. Although there is no motorized boating on either lake, row boat rentals are available and some visitors bring a kayak for exploring the lake. Although fishing is permitted, there is no information as to what fish the lake holds. Local fishermen are often seen on the lake paddling their traditional perahu.

The entire length of the main road between Lake Bratan and the northeastern end of Lake Buyan is crowded with homes, small shops and services. Once past the major developed area, all homes and private properties are located on the opposite side of the road from the lake, leaving a buffer zone between the lake and the highway. A number of small pull-off areas along the highway give plenty of access to photographers and those seeking to drink in the view across the lake. Once past Lake Buyan, the road turns northwest and eventually ends at Lovina on the Bali Sea, an hour away. Reaching Lake Tamblingan requires taking small local roads from the turn-off to reach the little village of Tamblingan on the southwestern end of the lake. Near Tamblingan, a water temple important to the irrigation system stands at the edge of the water.

The water temples are an integral part of the area’s all-important irrigation system. The water flows through the temples where it is diverted to irrigate the terraced fields of area farmers. Ceremonies and blessing rituals are regularly performed to assure the continuation of the regular water supply. Recently, rising water from Lake Tamblingan has flooded the village and surrounding farms, forcing the people to move to higher ground. Studies are underway to identify the cause of the increase in water and look for a solution. There is concern that increased development on the surrounding mountain slopes has allowed more water to drain into the lake. Because the ‘Subak’ system of farming is so ancient, dating to 678 A.D, the entire area falls under a UNESCO World Heritage cultural listing. Demands are increasing on the Indonesian government to prevent further development which removes traditional fields from the landscape.

Trekking is one of the more popular activities in the area. One of the most common hikes is to the top of Asah Gobleg, a hill overlooking the lakes. The view is spectacular. The more adventure-oriented traveler may choose to arrive with an organized trekking group to climb much more difficult Mount Batukaru. Employing local guides, these treks allow visitors to enjoy the flora and fauna of the rainforest and jungle on the steep mountainsides. Many temples exist in the area to which locals make regular pilgrimages. It is always advised to use local guidance to avoid offending local customs and religious observances. One of the easiest treks is to the Munduk Waterfall, only a mile from the Munduk Market. Munduk is the center of the elite and comparatively wealthy plantation system in the area. Here visitors can enjoy small shops selling local handicrafts, specialty foods and a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Near Munduk, two or three high-end ‘camps’ are located. Much like the safari camps of Africa, the guest accommodations of some are individual tents on platforms with en-suite bath, catered meals and spa services. A number of homestays, guest cottages and small hotels dot the highway running alongside Lake Buyan. The protected forests nearby have several designated areas for camping. Nearly all of the guest accommodations can arrange tour guides and offer advice for seeing the nearby sights. There is much to see and do in the area, so it is probably best not to attempt to visit the twin lakes and Lake Bratan on a single day. The lakes are often shrouded in fog in the mornings, and the night air is often quite cold. Not all guest accommodations have central heating, so it is advised that one bring an extra blanket.

The nearest modern hotels are located near Lake Bratan, but visitors will find other accommodations along the road between the lakes and Ubud. Ubud is a ‘must-see’. Monkey Forest Road is the best location for seeing the many free-ranging monkeys that venture onto the streets most days. The nearby Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary protects these long-tailed macaques. The main road out of Ubud is a sea of local vendors selling anything one can imagine, often with some persistence. Small hotels and restaurants are numerous, as are art galleries. Ubud is a good starting point for a trip to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan. Many guides in the area can provide their services and offer specialized tours.

Cool and refreshing, the mountain areas of central Bali are a very different experience than visiting the coastal resorts. Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan must be seen to enjoy their scenic views and the vibrant local culture of the area. So, pack the hiking boots and head for Bali.

*Statistics for these lakes come from unofficial sources; no official surveys could be located. Therefore, consider the statistics estimates. Figures are for Lake Tamblingan only.

Things to do at Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan-Bali’s Twin Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall

Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan-Bali’s Twin Lakes Photo Gallery

Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan-Bali’s Twin Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 489 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,994 feet

Maximum Depth: 295 feet

Water Volume: 21,889 acre-feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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