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.
I got my first proper look at rice terraces along the way,
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,
and immediately we signed in, eager to start our safari.
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.
We even got to feed him/her (I didn’t look under the hood to check, lol) some bits of banana plant,
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.
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,
which naturally came with it’s very own mahout (handler).
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.
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.
You start off heading through the park,
but pretty soon you leave the paved roads behind, and head out into their own small jungle preserve.
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.
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.
In fact, if you want to enjoy the elephants for yourself (right now!) you can, by checking out their EarthCam live feed!
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.
Man, that’s a lot of poop!
Before long we were back in the park,
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!
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!
I, of course, wanted to do a headstand. With some quick 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.
Not the first time, or the last, that that has happened.
Anyway, I got the shot,
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.
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.
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
to elephants taking a load off.
From elephants playing games,
and doing math,
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.
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. 😉