If you are passionate about animals, anywhere in Indonesia will deliver in terms of animal experiences, and Bali is no exception. With an exotic line-up of native creatures, it’s a great place for animal lovers to get up close and personal with some incredible wildlife. Here is a guide to three of Bali’s best animal experiences.
Sangeh Monkey Forest
First on your to-do list should be to book your flight to Bali, followed closely by sussing out how to get to the Sangeh Monkey Forest — a small forest located very close to Sangeh village (20 kilometres from Denpasar), sitting across approximately six hectares of land. It’s nicer and far less touristy than the bigger Ubud Monkey Forest, which is packed with thousands of visitors every month. The Sangeh Forest is also uniquely covered in giant nutmeg trees, some growing up to 40 metres in height, and hosts a sacred temple, the Pura Bukit Sari. It is also home to hundreds of hilarious Balinese monkeys, who happen to love hanging out with curious tourists. The monkeys inhabit both the trees and the temple and are happy to pause for a play and a natter. Be warned — they do have a fondness for shiny things, so safely hide your cameras and any jewellery under your clothes or in your bag. It also pays to ensure your rabies vaccinations are up to date, even though the monkeys are generally very friendly and bites are incredibly rare. If you’re heading toward the temple, check out the statue of Garuda, a large bird-like creature that is an important figure in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
Explore Bali Safari & Marine Park
Bali Safari & Marine Park is one of Bali’s top tourist attractions, and a great day out for couples, young families or groups of friends. Here you can get friendly with hundreds of amazing animals from over 60 different species. This includes a range of rare and endangered critters like Orangutan and the Bali Mynah. For those who have never had the pleasure of encountering this lovely little creature, the Bali Mynah, or Jalak Bali as it is known locally, is a medium-sized bird that is almost wholly white in the body, with pops of colour including bright blue skin around its eyes and a yellow bill. Sadly, the Bali Myna sits only just above extinction in the wild for many years. At the park, you have the choice of taking a tour on the back of an elephant, watching the animal show as you sit down to a delicious meal at the onsite restaurant or getting up close with lions, meerkats, Komodo and porcupines at the Animal Encounter area. You can also put your social conscience to rest, as the park is actively involved in the conservation of much of Bali’s wildlife, running education, breeding and release programs for the likes of the Bali Mynah, Sumatran Elephant, and Sumatran Tiger.
Bali Elephant Safari Park at Taro
The Bali Elephant Safari Park at Taro is one of the most exciting and unique tourist attractions in Bali. Here you can embark on a range of excursions, including an elephant tour, a white water rafting adventure, a jungle tracking trip, or a guided tour of the local villages. The park is home to Bali’s largest herd of elephants, 25 adults and two babies which can be hand-fed by tourists onsite. The park was founded by an Aussie, who stepped in to rescue a number of elephants who were left homeless and hungry after deforestation in Sumatra. The animals now live happily in their new home, which prioritises animal welfare and wildlife education. During your day at the park, you will be invited to watch elephant shows, observe elephants bathing in their pool and ride elephants through beautiful native Balinese scenery. If you’re up for something even more unique, it’s the only place in the world where you can sleep in luxurious surrounds right beside these rare and majestic creatures.
Image by Brenda Castaneda from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Sophie Sutherland is a zoologist who writes occasionally on animal-related topics.