Tour Details

Bali – Life, Death and the Ancestors


Tour dates: 2020 dates coming soon!

Tour price: to be confirmed soon

Single supplement: to be confirmed soon

Maximum places: Trip limited to 12 participants

Online bookings: opening soon for 2020 tour dates

2020 Tour Details coming soon, may be similar to below overview. Details to be advised and locked in soon. Contact us to be notified when next tour dates and itinerary are confirmed.



This 10-day tour ventures beyond the typical tourist experience to get you immersed in Balinese culture: we’ve gathered the best of Bali’s finest to create this exclusive opportunity.


The tour is ideally suited for open-minded travellers who welcome broadening their experience while soaking up the famous Bali magic that is based on a worldview that sees everything as being connected and imbued with spiritual energy. Here, the ancestors are part of the living community.


Balinese culture has a deep tradition of art, dance, ritual and healing practices that sustains its people and nourishes its community throughout life, including death and beyond. Our activities – with carefully selected locals – will explore these topics through sacred ceremonies, theatre performance, guided visits, walking tours and a series of background talks – all of which are balanced with leisure time for exploring recommended experiences on your own.


We’ll be based in Ubud, the cultural and healing centre of Bali, known for its traditional dance and arts, and located amongst rice fields and steep ravines. We’ll stay at the legendary Hotel Tjampuhan and Spa, a tribute to Ubud’s artistic heritage, which retains its traditional style and is exquisitely located in a landscape of tranquil natural beauty.


We’ve timed our trip to put us in Bali for the Festival of Kuningan – a major “national holiday” that honours the ancestors. Every 210 days, during the ten-days of Galungan, ceremonies are held for the ancestral spirits of deceased relatives to visit the Earth. To welcome the arrival of the ancestors, the island is filled with beautiful bamboo penjors that line the streets. On the last day, when they leave Earth, the brightly-coloured celebration of Kuningan occurs.


Highlights include:

  • Participating in Kuningan festivities
  • Visits to sacred temples, including Tirta Empul (‘Holy Water Spring’)
  • Learn spiritual rituals and offerings – and why they are important
  • Visit to a gifted balian for a “check-up”
  • A programme of talks and cultural visits with knowledgeable locals
  • Lunch in a traditional family compound with esteemed artist
  • Visit to the remote boat-only access Bali Aga cemetery at Trunyan
  • Small group of like-minded travellers.

2020 Tour inclusions coming soon, may be similar to below. Details to be advised and locked in soon.


  • Airport transfers
  • 9 nights’ accommodation at the Hotel Tjampuhan and Spa
  • Tour Leader (Dr Colleen Nordstrom)
  • All breakfasts, lunch and dinner meals as per the itinerary
  • All admission fees
  • A programme of study and cultural visits as per the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guide throughout
  • All ground transport services
  • Drinking water


Tour does not include:


  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Drinks with meals
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • All optional excursions, tours and visits
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa, if required


Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.

Day 1: (date tbc)

Upon arrival to Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar), each participant is greeted and transferred to the hotel in Ubud, a 1-2 hour drive north, travelling through small villages. To ensure you receive a warm, genuine welcome – true to Balinese hospitality – you’ll be personally greeted regardless of your flight arrival time or day. The tour starts in the late afternoon when we meet in the hotel for an orientation meeting and then socialise over dinner at a nearby restaurant. (D)


Day 2: (date tbc)

In the morning we’ll begin with group introductions and our first talk – the session gives an overview of Balinese culture and philosophy, noting key historical and religious influences on its animistic origins.  In the afternoon we’ll start immersing ourselves in the lifeways of local Balinese culture, highlighting the daily life of its people and visiting market places where you’ll see some of the beautiful arts and crafts that make Ubud famous.  Late afternoon and evening will be free time to further explore the area and enjoy the culinary delights of your choice or pick from one of the recommended restaurants. (B) (L)


Day 3: (date tbc)

We delve deep into Balinese traditional healing. We’ll explore the types of Balians, their specialities, the path to becoming a Balian, and the knowledge they need to attain in order to do their various practices. After lunch, we’ll visit a gifted Balian in his home/work place, where everyone will be given a “check-up”, with our local guide translating. We’ll then meet with Colleen back at the hotel to talk together about the day’s experience. After dinner, we’ll view and discuss a documentary film on Balinese trance, showing fascinating communication between the medium and the ancestors, and the bereaved family. (B) (L) (D)


Day 4: (date tbc)

The morning will be free time to indulge your pleasure. For those who want, there’ll be an early morning trek along the Campuhan Ridge Walk, which is an undulating track that passes over lush greenery with hillside vistas.  Refresh yourself in the swimming pool – or ease into the healing waters of the hotel’s sacred springwater pool – before we meet up after lunch. That afternoon we travel to Mas, known for its intricate woodcarvings and masks, to visit with a world-class master carver, dancer and puppeteer. After dinner, we’ll attend a traditional Balinese dance performance. (B) (D)


Day 5: (date tbc)

In the morning we’ll visit a traditional family compound in a local village. Here, we’ll meet the resident artist who will give an overview of Balinese-Hindu aesthetics and spirituality, showing how they influence art, architecture – even daily offerings. After lunch, we’ll join our artist as he leads us on a walking tour of his village, and then we’ll return to Ubud, where we’ll see the water temple honouring Dewi Saraswati, goddess of wisdom, learning and the arts. Late afternoon and evening is for more independent discovery time in Ubud – or for those who prefer, a quiet evening to relax before tomorrow’s early morning start. (B) (L)


Day 6: (date tbc)

In the morning, we travel to the 10th century Tirta Empul – the ‘Holy Water Spring’ believed to hold sacred healing powers – where you’ll have the opportunity to participate in the purification ritual known as ‘melukat’.  There’ll be free time in the afternoon – for an optional traditional Balinese massage or healing treatment, or for those who prefer a more vigorous activity can select from one of our recommended walks – until we meet with Colleen back at the hotel for discussion. After dinner, we’ll start our study of Balinese-Hindu death rituals, beginning with a documentary film that explores the rituals that protect the deceased and guide the soul on its journey. (B) (D)


Day 7: (date tbc)

Today we travel north to visit the small village of Trunyan – one of Bali’s ancient Pre-Hindu “Bali Aga” communities – located on the eastern shore of Lake Batur. We’ll go by boat to get to the Trunyan cemetery. Unlike Balinese-Hindus who cremate their dead, here in Trunyan the dead are laid in lattice bamboo cages to decompose with the elements. While this can be confronting, it also gives insight into the worldview of Bali’s original people. We’ll hear about this ancient custom from our local Trunyan guide. In the evening, we’ll meet with Colleen at the hotel to discuss the day.  (B) (L) (D)


Day 8: (date tbc)

Today we explore cremation rituals, the grandest and most important of all Balinese ceremonies. We’ll begin our day with a seminar on ‘Ngaben’: what it is, important aspects of it – such as date, time and etiquette – and its types and levels, including mass cremations. The ritual following Ngaben – the “deification” of ancestors, or ‘Mamukur’, will also be discussed, including its purpose, ritual process, and the types and levels of the Mamukur ceremony.  If a local cremation ceremony is on today, we’ll attend. Then, in the evening, we’ll go to the Kecak and Fire Dance, an iconic Balinese performance. (B) (L) (D)


Day 9: (date tbc)

Kuningan Day: During the day we’ll venture out to a nearby village to participate in the festivities – a medley of colours, sounds and people, young and old. We’ll see locals going to the temple, many with offerings, and we may see a procession winding its way along the streets – we may even be lucky and see a Barong, the mythical lion-like creature that represents virtue and bestows good fortune! In the evening, we’ll have a special celebration and farewell dinner. (B) (D)


Day 10: (date tbc)

Hotel check out. Participants will be transported to Denpasar airport to catch their flights home. (B)


Please note itinerary may vary.