Melasti purification ceremony Melasti purification ceremony Total Solar Eclipse Ogoh Ogoh parade
Melasti purification ceremony
Laos / Vietnam


Total Solar Eclipse and New Years Festival in Bali 2016


Bali, the justly renowned diamond in the necklace of islands that makes up the world’s largest archipelago, is well-known for its inner and outer beauty. Bali Hinduism is the predominant local religion and one that nurtures and encourages the arts. Bali’s stunning geographical beauty includes majestic volcanoes surrounded by terraced rice fields that gently spill into an azure sea.

Balinese worship their deities at ceremonial festivals, held every 210 days according to the Balinese lunar calendar system. Our time in Bali is organized to attend rituals connected with Nyepi, the Balinese New Years, and one of the most important festivals in the Bali Hindu calendar year where the entire island undergoes purification. And for those who have never experienced a full solar eclipse, our March 2016 journey to Bali, “Island of the Gods,” is especially auspicious, and there is no need to brave some of the world’s most challenging environments for an amazing eclipse experience, as the sun-drenched island in the Indonesian archipelago surroundings provide the ideal site for experiencing 2 minutes and 45 seconds of totality.

Purification ceremonies are an important part of Bali Hindu religious cycles.  Usually held during times of stress or plague, these ceremonies many times involve sacred objects and masks, and most are held within the village temples. During the rituals, those who fall into trance communicate the wishes of the high and low spirits to their attentive observers. Our trip will includes attending an authentic trance ceremony.

Melasti Festival Day  (Purification with water) On this day Balinese island-wide march in procession to the sea, purifying themselves and their sacred objects—sacred masks and giant puppets. We travel to a beach where an impressive number of villagers gather, to watch the procession of hundreds worshippers, culminating with the Priests and Priestesses in trance. Those who wish may join the Balinese at prayer.

Mecaru Festival Day: (Purification with fire). The daytime is spent in the family home, with preparation of non-perishable foods that will be consumed on the following day, when cooking is not permitted. As the afternoon wears on, young people congregate in the community halls to prepare for the torchlit processions with percussive Gamelan instruments and carrying giant demonic images, whose purpose is to frighten away pesky low spirits that might interrupt the tranquility of the island on the first day of the New Year (Nyepi). The dummies, called Ogoh Ogoh, are created by the Youth organizations and are quite impressive, as there is a competition to see which is the most creative. Home-made fireworks are also set off, hoping the noise will scare off demons.

Hari Raya Nyepi.  A day for self-examination, meditation and contemplation.  Everything must be still.  Bali-Hindu’s cannot work, light a fire, cook, or leave their home. There will be limited food available at your comfortable, quiet accommodation, but you are free to use the grounds. We will have special, extended yoga sessions on this day, as well as in-depth dialogue with Made Surya on the philosophy of Bali Hinduism.

Our trip will bring you into three distinct regions of Bali. We will stay in small, locally owned hotels—away from the tourist scene—so you can fully immerse ourselves in this unique, evocative culture. In addition to daily yoga classes, our excursions will include rice field hikes, treks in rain forests, snorkeling expeditions among tropical coral gardens, walks through coffee and clove plantations, and lush waterfalls. Each day, your tour guides will give us an insider’s view of Balinese dance, music, art and sacred ceremonies.

We will begin our journey at the peaceful, pristinely beautiful Lotus Bungalows resort, perched right at the edge of the Indian Ocean. This small East Bali hotel is the perfect place to land and decompress from your journey. We will spend four nights in Candi Dasa, beginning our yoga classes, our explorations of Bali, and our life together as a traveling community. This is where you will begin to learn about the Balinese people—their language, their culture, and their way of life.

During the middle portion of our trip, we will move to Ubud, the cultural center of Bali, where we will experience “urban” life and a faster pace. You will drink in many cultural riches and experience a variety of solo and group adventures. Ubud is also the place where you will be able to buy stunning artwork and other gifts to bring back home.

During the final part of our trip, we will leave the energy of the city and travel north to Munduk and the cool volcanic mountains of North Bali-- stunning region of rice fields, coffee and cocoa plantations, where myriad tropical fruits and spices are grown. You will experience first-hand the unspoiled agricultural and village life that Bali has to offer.

Ogoh Ogoh parade


Itinerary Feb. 26-March 11 2016

Sat. Feb. 26: USA Departure The journey begins. Depart USA around midnight, groggy but excited. Cross international dateline and lose an entire calendar day, which is made up on your return and which, if you¹ve never experienced this phenomenon, is sort of cool.

Sun. Feb. 27: Candi Dasa BL Arrive at Bali¹s only slightly insane Denpasar airport mid-afternoon, and hop a friendly minibus to our amazing beachfront bungalows at Candi (pronounced Chaan-dee) Dasa in east Bali. Check in and unpack before gathering for opening circle, followed by dinner together. Enjoy first swim in hotel¹s glorious infinity pool because obviously. Mon.

Feb. 28: Candi Dasa BD First morning yoga session with Susan followed by breakfast (this is repeated every morning). Then venture off by minibus to our waiting boats and enjoy a snorkeling excursion in a nearby coral reef preserve with views of Bali¹s stunning and most sacred volcano Mount Agung. Back to Lotus Bungalows for lunch, and our first orientation session focusing on basic Indonesian manners & customs, including a demonstration of how to wrap your traditional sarong because that’s sort of important. At 5:30 we walk to the center of the village to see the temple for which Candi Dasa is named, and tour Bali's only Gandhi Ashram, followed by intimate dinner prepared by the wonderful ashram members.

Tues. March 1: Candi Dasa B Morning yoga, breakfast, and our second orientation/language session focusing on Bali’s unique religious composition and caste system. Then we take off touring to Tirtagangga, a stunning “water palace” built by the region's last Raja (king). Swim in the crystal clear, olympic-sized freshwater pool, followed by lunch in the gourmet restaurant overlooking the palace grounds. On the trip back, visit an incredible organic chocolate factory owned by a man named Charley (seriously). Late afternoon meet in the Yoga pavilion for a special session. Evening ethnographic film: The National Geographic Special on Bali.

Wed. March 2: Candi Dasa B Morning yoga, followed by breakfast. Morning talk with Surya on the Balian, Balinese traditional healers. A visit to nearby Tenganan aboriginal village, where Bali’s finest basket making and textile weaving takes place, and where we enjoy a personal demonstration of calligraphy and weaving, and meet a traditional healer. Happy Hour seminar on Bali-Hindu Rites Of Passage, followed by final dinner in Candi Dasa.


Thur. March 3: Ubud B Morning yoga, followed by breakfast with final language session, during which Judy teaches everyone how to barter in Balinese, with appropriate amounts of drama. Depart Candi Dasa for Ubud, Bali's "cultural center," stopping along the way to visit the 11th century Hindu/Buddhist temple at Goa Gadjah, the “Elephant Cave.” Amazing evening performance of Kecak (Ramayana) dance and fire trance dance. Dinner on your own, out and about in wonderful Ubud.

Fri. March 4: Ubud. B Morning yoga followed by breakfast. Then we travel to the village of Tegallalng by mini bus, where we are dropped off walk back to Ubud, traveling through small villages, terraced rice fields, community halls, and Hindu temples, observing and discovering everyday village life in Bali and learning further about social organization. Afternoon and evening free.

Sat. March 5: Ubud B Morning yoga followed by breakfast. Then we proceed south, stopping first for a performance of the Barong dance at Batubulan village. Then we back-track slightly, to the home/studio of one of the few master carvers of sacred masks, to watch the process of creation of the masks you just saw in performance,and hear about their role in Balinese society. Then to the home of a family of shadow puppet makers and carvers to observe the construction process. Onward to the nearby village of Pejeng, and a visit to a traditional batik factory. Our final stop is the home of a talented young painter. 7:30 performance of classical Legong dance.

Sun. March 6 Ubud Hari Melasti (Purification by water) Early morning departure to visit (and perhaps receive a purification if you wish) in the elegant temple and sacred springs of Tirta Empul, believed to have healing properties. Return to Ubud for lunch. Then we travel south to Sanur beach to watch hundreds of Balinese in their finest apparel and with their sacred objects march in procession to the sea where prayer for the new year and a trance ritual are held. You may join them in prayer if you wish .

Mon. March 7: Travel Day to Munduk BD After early yoga, we’ll have our final breakfast in Ubud and then depart for an island tour of volcano country and north Bali. We’ll wind our way through stunning landscapes and Bali’s fruit and vegetable basket. Our first stop will be the State temple of Mengwi, and then stop at Pura Ulun Danu, Bali's most beautiful temple, floating on a small island in a volcanic lake. We will arrive in Munduk mountain village and check into our beautiful eco-friendly hotel, perched on rice fields. After we settle in, meeting at the sunset bar for some stunning optics. In the evening we’ll enjoy the first of our family-style delicious group dinners together, followed by an optional ethnographic film: The Three Worlds of Bali.

Tues. March 8: Munduk BD Mecaru Day: Purification By Fire. After early morning yoga, and breakfast, we will hike to one of Bali's most breathtaking waterfalls through cocoa, vanilla, and banana plantations. If you’re brave, you can climb underneath. After included lunch, we’ll have an offering making workshop, and learn the meaning and symbolism concerning the ingredients and colors. Late afternoon a trip to Denpasar, Bali’s capitol city and have an early dinner at a nearby hotel. A short distance is the main street of Denpasar, where we enjoy a wildly enthusiastic amazing Gamelan and torch lit parade of over 200 giant demonic puppets constructed in competition by the cities youth organizations. Return to Munduk.
Wed. March 9: Munduk BD Hari Raya Nyepi. New Years Day. A day for meditation and contemplation. No one is allowed to work or cook or leave their compound (in your case, the spacious hotel grounds). Small meals will be served. It will be a wonderful day to submerse ourselves in Yoga. And finally, as the New Year dawns on the traditional lunar calendar, you find yourself in at 4:00 PM at the panoramic “Sunset Bar” where the entire landscaper of north Bali stretches out in front of you, from the surrounding clove plantations, all the way to the Java Sea. We will gather in silence…watching as the Moon passes in entirety before the Sun. Evening dinner together.

Thur. March 10: Munduk BD Morning Yoga class. After breakfast, we’ll go on a trek through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the magical Growing Stone. The villagers in Munduk practice a unique custom—the morning after Nyepi, they cook in the doorways of their homes, offering food to passers-by, and we will be able to partake. Late afternoon, healthy eating cooking class, and then we consume our creations for final dinner.

Fri. March 11: B After our final yoga and breakfast, our workshop concludes, and we head for the airport or stay on, or travel further in Indonesia.

Please note: Our daily schedule might shift and change as other unexpected opportunities arise cremation festivities or other rites of passage, temple festival and purification ceremonies. You just never know what might be happening depending on the season, the village, or the people we meet. In case any activity must be canceled, another similar activity will be substituted. Sorry, no refunds on any activities you decide not to attend, and anyone who leaves the tour itinerary at any time for any reason is on their own.

Included in this trip:
  • Round-trip airfare via San Francisco.
  • Airport transfers
  • A snorkeling excursion excluding mask and fins.
  • Attendance at 3 traditional dance & music performances
  •  Tour of Ashram Candi Dasa, Tenganan aboriginal village, Tirtagangga Water Palace, Organic chocolate factory, Goa Gadjah (“Elephant Cave”), tour home/studio’s of artists and craftspeople, Ulun Danu & Mengwi temples, fruit and flower market.
  • 3 Treks: neighboring countryside, small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, & waterfall
  • Breakfast each day, dinner at Gandhi Ashram Candi Dasa, and four, family style dinners in Munduk.
  • Seminars on rites of passage, bargaining, history and politics, trance and sacred masks, local customs and culture, language, Hindu religion & caste system, rites of passage, etc.
  • A personal purification ritual at Tampaksiring temple.
  • Field trip to the massive purification and trance ritual at Sanur Beach.
  • Field trip to the parade of Ogoh Ogoh in Denpasar.
  • Yoga class every day with Susan
  • Services of Judy Slattum & Madé Surya, professional Bali specialists.
  • Informational booklet.
  • 4 nights at Candi Dasa Beach.
  • 4 nights in Ubud, Bali’s cultual center.
  • 4 Nights in Munduk Mountain Village.

Not Included:
Meals except where noted in itinerary (expect $5.-$12. per meal), laundry, overweight baggage fees, additional sightseeing, and snorkeling equipment rental. “Optional “ activities such as another snorkeling excursion are not covered

Trip Cost and Fees: $3768.00 per person includes airfare from LA or San Francisco.The price is based on two people sharing a twin or double-bedded room with private bath (all hotels have western amenities). Two have swimming pools. Full breakfast, excursions listed in the itinerary, classes, services of Judy and Surya (Bali guides/ experts), along with several orientation and language sessions. The price includes hotel transfers, land arrangements and air, but an unexpected rise in air fare may influence the final price. Ground only, deduct $1150.00 Those arranging their own air travel will be responsible for transfers from the airport to hotel and back.

Deposit: A deposit of $500.00 per person
is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Minimum 10 and maximum 16 participants.

Cancellations and Refunds: For the flight portion, cancellation will be governed by the rules and regulations as listed in the flight contract by the participating airline. For the land portion, a cancellation fee of $200.00 will be collected up to 60 days prior to departure, after which half the ground portion of the final payment will be refunded. No refunds will be made from one month before departure. Trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended.

Baggage: Two (2) pieces of luggage, not exceeding 62 inches. Each cannot exceed 50 lbs.

All accommodations are based on two persons sharing a double or twin bedded room with private, western-style bath. Single supplement available for $416.00

Roommates: Single people may sign up for accommodations desired on a share basis and will be assigned a roommate as circumstances permit. If a roommate is unavailable, the participant will be notified of the adjusted price for a SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $416.00

Passports, Visa & Health:
A passport, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation. Indonesian visa for 30 days granted on arrival to US citizens. No inoculations are suggested or required.

Susan MerittAbout Susan Merritt: Susan teaches yoga with a focus on accurate alignment and sound movement mechanics for each student’s level of ability.  With a love of anatomy and movement, she creatively incorporates some gentle techniques that help release fascial tension.  Both of these approaches allow the practice of yoga to come more easily to most bodies.  By engaging the body’s strength, flexibility, & balance, an inner peace and calm comes to the mind and spirit.
Susan’s primary teacher for the study of hatha yoga in the lineage of B.K.S. Iyengar has been the internationally renowned yoga teacher, Ramanand Patel.  Ramanand’s training as a civil engineer endowed his teaching with the focus on therapeutic structure of the yoga poses.  Susan feels most indebted to him for instilling this understanding.
Over the years Susan has studied yoga, anatomy, and other movement modalities, most notably, the Feldenkrais method, which weave into the tapestry of her teaching.  With the wisdom of 34 years experience, intuition, & an eye for proper alignment, Susan excels at individualized instruction and gentle hands on guidance.
Susan has been teaching for 34 years and opened Body & Soul Yoga Studio in 1997.

Trip Organizers/Leaders: Judy Slattum MFA and Made Surya B.S.
are professional tour organizers who have been leading study tours in Bali since 1985. Made has translated and worked with scholars and educational film and video crews, including National Geographic, and lives in Bali half the year. He was senior research assistant for several scholarly books relating to the Balinese view of the After Death. He is on the advisory board for Sacred Sites International, and has been a contributor to Hinduism Today. He has lectured frequently at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and performs traditional mask dance in both Bali and the US Judy Slattum has been organizing and leading study tours to Bali continuously after first visiting the island on sabbatical to study mask dance in 1978. Six months later she returned with the first of many unique travel/learning experiences. Judy has published many articles on Balinese culture and her book, Masks of Bali; Spirits of an Ancient Drama was released by Chronicle Books in 1992, was featured in Time Magazine and sold over 17,000 copies, and was reprinted by Periplus Editions in Sept. 2003. Her museum exhibition on Balinese Masks toured the USA as part of the Festival of Indonesia for 5 years and has now relocated to Bali.

Call toll free 888-476-0543 or email for further information.
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