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The best animal experiences of Bali

Indonesia

Natarsha Brown channels her inner man-cub and gets up close and personal with Bali’s creatures, great and small.

One thing Bali is not short on is an abundance of wildlife just waiting to make your acquaintance. Want to sleep amidst elephants? No problem. Want to dine next to a lion’s den? No worries. Want to cuddle a python, feed a pelican, meet a macaw and kiss a komodo dragon? Well, maybe not the last one, but for such a little island, Bali’s animal experiences really pack a punch.

Bali Safari Marine Park
Welcome to the zoo of childhood dreams. With the sheer amount of things to do and see with a mere general admission ticket to Bali Safari and Marine Park, mini Mowgli’s will never want to return to the ‘man village’. Home to over 60 species of animals, don’t come here expecting to see Balinese wildlife, but an assortment of crazy critters from across the globe; ride a camel, pet a baby Indian tiger, hold a Bali Mynah or cuddle an orangutan. And for lovers of the more fearsome of the world’s beasts, be sure to stop by for the piranha or white tiger feeding times, but keep your handsa to yourselves!

Enjoy your dinner with a side of lion – and no, not on your plate – with a two-way observation deck between your table and a lion’s den at Tsavo Lion restaurant or spot exotic animals from the confines of your air-conditioned 4WD bus on the popular Night Safari, visiting the wilds of Indonesia, India and Africa. We’ve all heard the saying ‘an elephant never forgets’, so remember to bring your trunks, your swimming trunks that is. The water park has a little something for all ages, a toddler friendly playground, a whirlpool, a merry-go-round equipped with spray guns and an adults’ pool retreat and bar.



Elephant Safari Park & Lodge
Celebrities, politicians and sports stars alike have been flocking to the highlands of Taro for years, with the resident gentle giants more famous than their guests, who range from David Beckham to Julia Roberts to the President of Morocco. And the best part? The Elephant Safari Park & Lodge’s 30 resident Sumatran elephants are treated like animal royalty; the park is foremost a refuge, meeting international standards of animal care and set in two hectares of botanical gardens and native forest.

The daily elephant show is the real marvel: guests look on in glee as the hulking entertainers prance, dance... and paint! Yes, you heard right, the park is home to elephant Picassos. While it may sound like the synopsis for the next Disney blockbuster, it has to be seen to be believed and it is nothing short of extraordinary.

If one day simply isn’t enough, wake up to the sounds of stomping right outside your window and climb aboard your 4000-kilogram taxi for a ride to breakfast by spending the night at one of the 25 luxury safari style rooms available on site. If mum is in need of a break, the Safari Wellness Spa has an extensive menu of body, beauty and hair treatments, or get the blood pumping on a white-water raft, kayak or mountain bike.



Bali Zoo
Where else on earth can you dine with lions, take care of an elephant and pose with a python? Bali Zoo has so many animal experiences on offer that it’s not about deciding if to go but for how long!

Learn how to command and care for the largest land animal on earth with Bali Zoo’s nine-hour Mahout for a Day programme, the only one of its kind in Indonesia. The island’s first and only Balinese-owned zoological park lets you get up close and personal with these gentle giants and their trainers, experiencing a day in the life of these pachyderms, including an elephant bath, a Mahout 101 course and a scenic ride through Wos River. Looking for a cute fix? Kids aged six to 12 can try their hands at being a zookeeper, preparing the animals’ meals, creating enrichment toys and getting cuddly with the babies of the Animal Clinic & Nursery.

As twilight descends, find out what goes bump in the night with the Night at the Zoo programme every evening from 6pm to 9.30pm. With elephant feeding, photo sessions with pythons, bear cats and crocodiles, a guided night walk, a fire dance performance and dinner under the stars – just a few metres from a lion’s den – the kids will discover that life really is the most spectacular show on earth.

Bali Bird Park
Fans of the smart-mouth beaks of Tweety and Zazu, prepare to frolic in birdie bliss at Bali Bird Park. Located in the Batubulan stone carving village, the two hectares of tropical gardens and walk-through aviaries are home to more than 250 species. Divided into different areas that aim to recreate the natural habits of the birds – from Latin America to South Africa – the park is a safe haven for a number of rare species including the birds-of-paradise from West Papua and the Bali starling.

Birdwatchers- to-be can feed a pelican, hold a macaw, talk to a friendly cockatoo, visit the nocturnal owl house or hoof it if they encounter a cassowary! The ‘Free Flight Bird Show’ is the highlight and will leave the littlies in awe as eagles, owls and macaws soar through the skies and intermittently dive bomb the handlers, snatching food from the palms of their hands. If the sun has you a wee bit weary, stop in at the air-conditioned 4D cinema.


Monkey Forest Ubud
Step back in time at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, home to Ubud's 300 infamous mischief-making macaques. Also host to 115 species of trees, three holy temples, unravelling stone pathways and a collection of moss-covered statues, and all intertwined between the wild native jungle, the sanctuary feels like the leftover set from Tomb Raider.



***Bali Report Card***


Information
www.balitourismboard.org/

Getting there
Garuda Indonesia flies to Denpasar from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
www.garuda-indonesia.com

Stay
Bali Dynasty Resort
www.bdr.pphotels.com
Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali
www.barunabali.holidayinnresorts.com
Hard Rock Hotel Bali
www.bali.hardrockhotels.net
Sanur Paradise Plaza Suites
www.spps.pphotels.com
HARRIS Resort Kuta Beach
www.kuta-bali.harrishotels.com
AYANA Resort and Spa Bali
www.ayanaresort.com/en/home

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