When I holiday with family, visiting animal attractions are high on my itinerary as I have my son and niece on these trips and most children love animals. We just had a week of vacation in Bali and so we had to decide between Bali safari park and the Bali zoo, and eventually decided to visit the safari park instead of the zoo, as we have been reading reviews that the park was better maintained than the zoo. The park has animal shows , animal encounters and a tram safari.
Animal encounters are photo opportunities with the animals. On the day we went there was photo opportunity with the orangutan and the binturong. We took a group pic with the orangutan. We are not allowed to touch these animals. Just sit beside them.
The tram took us through Asian, African and Indonesian enclosures showcasing wildlife indigenous to these regions. The tram was air conditioned which was a relief from the sweltering heat and humidity outside. The Asian section had few Indian tigers and few species of Indian deers. The African section had more variety of animals. The tram went past zebras , wildebeest, ostriches, African wild cows, few species of deers, a rhino with its baby which the guide mentioned was the first rhino born in Indonesia. The guide explained that they were involved in conservation efforts of the animals and breeding programs , so that explained the presence of the baby rhino. The tram went over a pond where we caught a glimpse of a hippo. The lions enclosure had a few juvenile male lions resting inside a cave.
Bali dance lesson:
In the morning there is an hour of Bali dance class in which there are 2 dancers who would be doing the traditional dance and people can join in if interested.
This is the first show at the park. By the time we reached the show, the seating was full and the seats that were left fell right under the hot sun. I wish this show was performed in a shaded amphitheatre so it is more comfortable for the audience. The sun was scorching and though the show was very good we were feeling very uncomfortable watching it due to the heat. The show explains how animals got domesticated and there were puppies running on the stage, guinea pigs, birds flying, cats, white rats and all this seemed very cute. They invited one person from the audience and the lady chosen turned out to be from Vancouver, Canada. She was instructed to stretch her hand and a horn bill flew and perched on her hand. She was also told not to look at the bird, perhaps it intimidates them to attack. Then they introduced the orangutan and explained that there are 2 species of the orangutan. The Indonesian type is brown and the Borneo type is orange. I found this fascinating as I heard this for the first time.
Elephant bathing and feeding:
Sometime in the morning we watched the elephant bathing. Couple of elephants were frolicking in the pond with their keepers on top of them. The kids went to touch the elephants. In the evening we were able to feed the elephants with some carrots that were sold for 50,000 IDR. There was a mother and its baby and both stretched out their trunks for the carrots when the kids went near them with the food buckets.
Harimau means tiger in Indonesian. This is a very lively show. In the middle of the show a tiger pulled the keeper into the water. I don’t think this act was staged as the other keeper came running to help the keeper who fell into the water. The fallen keeper showed his hand subtly to the other keeper implying he was hurt. The tiger then like a kitten who knows he has done wrong went around down to the other side of the swimming pool. Throughout the show the keepers kept hand feeding the tigers with meat just like giving biscuits to dogs. I was wondering if the keepers had any fear in their minds of the possibility that their fingers can get bitten off as they were dealing with wild animals.
The elephant show was narrated as a story of how elephants and humans began clashing with each other as their habitats had shrunk due to deforestation and poaching. Finally an elephant named Bella was called to save a person who fell into the river. Towards the end of the show, three volunteers from the audience were called and Bella garlanded them.
Tsavo lion restaurant:
There are couple of restaurants in the park to have lunch. The Uma restaurant is more like a food court and the Tsavo lion restaurant is an upscale restaurant that overlooks the lion enclosure. The lions were in the same place where we saw them in the morning, and our table was quite far away from where the lions were resting. So though we could not see the lions clearly from where we were, we still decided to dine here as the Uma restaurant was not air conditioned. The lion enclosure also had the meerkats and the meerkats were more lively than the sleepy lions. There was a real life drama going on in the meerkats cave which kept the kids entertained. A snake had entered into the meerkats cave and the keepers had to carefully pull it out of the cave. All through this the curious bunch of meerkats looked on and kept running off when there was a slight movement from the keepers and then came back to check on the snake. This was very comical and cute to behold.
Bali Agung show:
Though this show does not involve any animals this could be the highlight of the park for many of the adults. The amphitheatre is huge and is air-conditioned. The kids slept off in the comfort of the dark amphitheatre and the melodious music. It is the grandest show we saw in Bali and it told the story of an Indonesian king who married a Chinese princess, and they did not have a child, so the king goes away to the mountains to pray for a child, but gets enchanted with a goddess and does not return to his queen. So the queen goes to look for her husband and finds that he has had a son with the goddess. The goddess in wrath smites both of them , but when her son condemns her act, she repents and erects a statue in their remembrance in front of Mount Agung. Note that no photography is allowed inside the theatre and we were asked to deposit our mobile phones and cameras at the entrance.
We were waiting for the feeding session impatiently in front of the tank and suddenly noticed a skinned full chicken silently being let down. The tank got into a frenzy and the Piranhas tore the flesh apart including the bones, and in a matter of minutes the chicken disappeared.
The night safari is an optional package that begins from 7pm. It lasted 3 hours and included a walking safari, animal encounter, tiger feeding, barbecue dinner and an African dance performance. We were first led to the VIP room and given a lemon based welcome drink. We were split into groups. The walking safari was done for each group one after the other and lasted for 15 minutes. The guide was having a small torch in her hand and pointed to animals like porcupines, an iguana, komodo dragon and bats. We were told not to use the flash for photography. My son and niece were very excited and seemed to be enjoying the guides company and were asking her with a lot of questions which the guide patiently answered.
For the animal feeding, we were in a caged vehicle and could hand feed carrots to zebras, elephants and African red cows. In the tiger enclosure the tiger climbed on top of the vehicle and the keeper was hand feeding the tiger. Again I wondered if he feared that his fingers may get accidentally bitten off by the tiger. The tiger was dripping wet and the guide assured us that it was only water as it must have been swimming. We could also get to touch the tigers belly little bit when the keeper was feeding the tiger. The tiger feeding was the highlight of this activity and then the kids posed with a Macau later and we went to have dinner. After the dinner we got seated for the African dance show. The ambience was very casual with some guests sitting on the ground and some sitting on lounge chairs. The African dance show was a fire dance with some lighted props with music dominated by the sound of drums.
I would say all the shows in the safari park are educational and good. The guides were all polite and conversed well in English. The park is clean and well maintained. The price of the food is expensive and very average. Now if you have decided to visit the park, here are some tips I gathered after my experience.
- The basic Jungle hopper package is good enough to cover all to be seen in the park. The other packages include food, and the most expensive ones like the leopard and rhino package involves elephant ride in addition to the shows. The rhino package also involves a pick up and drop to the hotel. I would suggest to go for the basic Jungle hopper package, unless you have never ridden an elephant before. You can choose the food in the park instead of buying the pricier packages that includes food. From what I saw, I was not really impressed with the seating of the rhino packages. Hiring your own driver would still work out cheaper than using the hotel pick up and drop that is included in the rhino package.
- Hire a driver to for the day. Most of these drivers are registered guides as well. The driver will guide you in the park and help in getting you to the shows on time. They know their way in and around the park and this can be a great deal of help for first time visitors. Having a driver is also very flexible to leave the park at your convenience.
- It will be very hectic to see all the shows. Prioritize what shows you want to see. For instance we skipped the crocodile show, and instead spent more time for the afternoon lunch and relaxed at the Tsavo restaurant.
- Take the tram ride later in the day and proceed to the animal show first for good seats, as the tram ride can be done anytime till 5pm. The animal show does not have a proper auditorium and so if you arrive later one would have to sit under the scorching hot sun.
- Exit the shows 5 minutes before the end of the show, so you get choice of seats for the next show.
- If you would like to have food in the Tsavo lion restaurant, make sure you reserve it ahead as otherwise all the best seats get reserved earlier.
- Bring your bathers because there is a waterpark, and if you have time and the waterpark does not look too crowded you can cool down here. There are some cool slides and fountains that the kids will love to get wet in.