The Elephant Safari Park, Bali

Before I went away I tried to make a list of at least three things I really wanted to do before I die, but it’s hard. I mean I thought of plenty of things that could potentially go on there – swim with whales, learn to play a musical instrument, give a TED talk – but in reality there were only a few things that I absolutely must do at some point. As I say, I wanted three. I only managed to come up with two.

One was see the Northern Lights. Totally wrong hemisphere for that! The other though, was ride an elephant. Now that was do-able. In fact it was the main reason I’d come to Bali.

The Elephant Safari Park in Taro, near Ubud, is one of the best and most well known elephant rescue centres in this part of the world. It got Steve Irwin approval, so by that standard, anything good enough for Steve is good enough for me!

I booked the elephant ride package for $86USD (just under £55). Not cheap by any standards, and especially not for Bali. But for that you got the whole deal; hotel transfer there and back, park entrance, elephant ride, buffet lunch, the works.

I was picked up from my hotel at 8am. Elephants are early risers it seems! We drove around picking up the other people on the tour – a pair of lovely young ladies from California, and a British couple who were there on their honeymoon! – and we all chatted and got to now each other as we heading out into the countryside towards the safari park.

the way home

I got my first proper look at rice terraces along the way,

my first good look at rice paddies

and it just made me even more determined to see then close up for myself.

We arrived to find yet another Ganesha to greet us in the car park,

we're here

and immediately we signed in, eager to start our safari.

elephant safari park

Unfortunately they weren’t quite ready for us yet, but we got to stroll our way down into the park while we waited, meeting our first Sumatran elephant along the way.

my first elephant

We even got to feed him/her (I didn’t look under the hood to check, lol) some bits of banana plant,

feeding time

which was great fun.

Our first ‘encounter’ over, we got ready to meet our elephants. Unfortunately, as we were queuing up to take our ride the heavens opened and it started chucking it down.

the line for elephants starts here

Not that that was going to stop us. I mean, that’s why God invented umbrellas, right?

Being on my own I got an elephant of my own to ride,

my ride

which naturally came with it’s very own mahout (handler).

ma mahout

Climbing aboard was weird. You have to step on it’s back to get into the seat, and it’s not the most firm of footing as you might be able to tell from this picture.

beneath my feet

It’s thick skin moved above sideways, and my boots were not the best footwear for walking about on an elephant. But still, I made it, and this is me looking all excited about going for an elephant-back ride.

I'm on an elephant!

You start off heading through the park,

careful where you're stepping

the end if the road

but pretty soon you leave the paved roads behind, and head out into their own small jungle preserve.

elephants only (a little shaky)

NB: Taking photos from the back of a moving elephant in the rain whist holding an umbrella is not the easiest thing to do.

I should point out that ‘jungle’ is probably a bit of a misnomer. The environment is very organised and controlled, and as such is definitely more ‘park’ than ‘safari’.

That being said, it was nice to just roll along through the trees, just you, your elephant, and all the time in the world.

into the wild

It wasn’t long until I’d forgotten about everything else, and was just enjoying the gentle rocking of this magnificent creature as it ambled along.

plodding along

In fact, if you want to enjoy the elephants for yourself (right now!) you can, by checking out their EarthCam live feed!

earthcam

You only get a thirty minute elephant ride. I’ve no idea how long we were in the jungle bit, but it wasn’t long before we started seeing signs of civilisation again.

that's a lot of poop

Man, that’s a lot of poop!

Before long we were back in the park,

back to the park

just married

but that wasn’t quite the end of it. To finish off we got to stay on the elephant’s backs as they took a quick dip in the pool. Naturally, this turned into the best photo opportunity!

bath time

feeling lucky

look at me!

Do I look pleased with myself, because I felt it. 🙂

And with that our ride was over, but not the experience. We dismounted, and then got to go spend time meeting, greeting, and feeding the elephants, including the cutest little baby you ever did see!

meet the elephants

go on, touch it!

making friends

reaching out

come and get it

something yummy

strike a pose</a

grab!

the little ones meet

elephant feeding time

hungry little fella

I, of course, wanted to do a headstand. With some quick negotiations,

headstand negotiations

I was good to go! At least, that’s what I thought. I was half way up when I remembered I’d forgotten to tuck my shirt in.

wait, my belly's showing!

Not the first time, or the last, that that has happened.

Anyway, I got the shot,

67. elephant safari park headstand

number 67 in the series.

By now it was getting on a bit. Still morning, technically, but with the early start I was getting hungry! As far as I was concerned it was time to hit the buffet.

safari park buffet lunch

The food was good, and plentiful, and I enjoyed more than one helping.

After lunch there was a bit of time before the elephant show, so I wandered around a bit checking out the park.

elephant bath

ganesha (again)

around the park

goldfish by the waterfall

happy heffalumps

across the fields

elephant butts

Pretty soon it was time for the show. I’d no idea what to expect, but I have to say it was very well done and quite entertaining. From elephants just walking around

everybody wave

up we go

down we go

there's something on my nose

to elephants taking a load off.

just sittin'

elephant show

From elephants playing games,

he shoots...

two points!

and doing math,

elephant maths

and the answer is...

and even doing the hula!,

this show had it all.

But the most amusing bit for me by far was at the end, probably because I’d chosen to stand on the platform at the back to get a better view, and so was out of the danger zone, lol.

look out!

a good drenching!

soaked

And with that the show, and my elephant experience was over. We all hopped back in the vehicle and headed back into Ubud.

I’m glad I did the safari, expensive though it was, and I had a great time meeting the elephants and seeing them perform. The Safari Park certainly seemed to treat their animals with care and affection, and no doubt the fees from tours like mine go towards facilitating their conservation work.

As I’ve said though, it was a little ‘controlled’ for me. I wanted to sit astride the thing, do some serious off-roading, maybe even get in the river and bathe them, stuff like that. So even though I can scratch Ride An Elephant off my ‘To Do’ list, Nelly and I still have some unfinished business, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be meeting some more heffalumps some time in the not too distant future. 😉

3 thoughts on “The Elephant Safari Park, Bali

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