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Monday, November 25, 2013

SIL in Bali: The Day We Rode an Elephant!

Gluten Free Breakfast in Bali, Viceroy Bali Cascades Restaurant

We're continuing on with our Bali recaps and today I want to tell you about one of our favourite days in Bali - it's the day we went to the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, Bali

Gluten Free Breakfast in Bali, Viceroy Bali Cascades RestaurantGluten Free Breakfast in Bali, Viceroy Bali Cascades Restaurant

Our day started early - 5am early (we totally weren't used to the time difference and we're early risers anyway) and we waited around until 7am when it was time to head to CasCades for breakfast.

As we had a 6 course dinner planned for that night, we decided to have a bigger breakfast and a snacky lunch to save room for dinner. Jesse had an Omelette with Crispy Bacon and Toast and the Citrus Crepes (left) with caramelised strawberries and bananas with whipped cream and what was supposed to be dark chocolate - but I think that's strawberry syrup.

I had my favourite "Bali Breakfast" - steamed rice, coconut milk, banana and cinnamon served with a side of fresh watermelon and apple (and a heart attack from those pesky limes - if you've been reading the blog, you'll know I'm allergic to citrus so that kind of freaked me out until I found they were just sitting on the plate and that was it).

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review

We'd organised our Elephant Park trip the day before at reception  and they'd organised our transport, tickets and meal through Bali Adventure Tours (which was included in the package but we didn't actually have) and our car was due to pick us up between 8am and 8:30am. 

After breakfast we headed up to reception and before we knew it, our car arrived with two other ladies from another hotel who would be in our "group" for the day. The girls were lovely (though their names are totally wiped from my memory - Jesse and I are terrible with names) and both from the US so we had a lot to talk about. 

The ride over to Taro was about 20-30 minutes and we saw everything from rice paddies to villages and even drove across a bridge hanging over the river. Traffic and driving in Bali is notoriously bad in Bali so whilst our driver was brilliant - everyone else on  the road certainly was not. 

The little boys in the photo above were actually heading to a celebration in a local village and there were thousands walking the street dressed in their bright white clothing, singing and playing instruments. 

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review

We arrived at the Elephant Safari Park and as the hotel had already arranged our tickets, we headed straight on through. It was about a half hour wait until our Elephant ride so we had time to explore the park, meet the elephants and take photos and check out the museum.

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Elephant Museum

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali ReviewThe Elephant Safari Park really did have that safari feel mixed with Balinese style. As you walk through the gates of the park you're greeted by a huge elephant skeleton and the walls are lined with pictures of celebrities who have visited the park, newspaper clippings and information about the park and the elephants.

The grounds of the park are stunning - you feel like you're in some sort of a tropical rainforest and the abundance of the trees helps you to escape from the Bali heat. Whilst the girls in our group were having lunch, Jesse and I explored the grounds further - weaving through the hidden paths, checking out the koi ponds and statues and enjoying a break from the heat. 

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Elephants having a swim

I love elephants - well... at least I thought I did. I've pet them, fed them - but I have never been quite so close to them. This was the moment where I realised I might have actually been terrified by elephants....

Think of this huge giant creature with its long trunk just metres away from you in the water. All I could think of was..... This elephant weighs a tonne (literally) .... I weigh a lot less than that. This elephant can pull me into that dirty water with said trunk at any second....

An elephant up close is a lotttttttttttttt bigger than an elephant from a distance. 

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Feeding an elephant

But I told myself there was no way I was coming all of this way and not petting or riding an elephant - so I did it.... but this was my internal commentary throughout the above pictures (L-R from the top row to the bottom):

One of the Elephant Handlers tells me he'll take my photo with an elephant - I timidly agree and head over to the elephant with a handful of food. Kristy's internal commentary: 
1: Okay, this is close enough... close enough for it to eat but not too close that it'll grab me. (If you look close enough, you can actually see that I'm tensing my legs - knees especially 0 out of fear :P) 
2: Closer to the elephant? Er... okay... I can.. uh... here I'm petting its head... that's close...
3: Closer?!?! Oh dear goodness... please don't drool on me... oh ick it feels like a vacuum sucking my leg... but its hairy... oh please mister, hurry up and take the damn photo
4: WHAT?! Woaaaaaaah elephant now we're getting too close
5: Actually, you're kind of cute - it's like an elephant hug
6: My bad, you actually are cute, I'll happily pet you.

Notice how I also went for the smallest elephant that was there - this little lady was 4 years old and very friendly.

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Feeding an elephant

But what about Jesse meeting an elephant? Pro  - he had no fear and he watched me do it so he got right next to the elephant in seconds.

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Feeding an elephant

There's Jesse, the Elephant Whisperer feeding the little lady (click on it to see it in full - and Jesse, I know you're reading this, don't get a big head ;P).

Elephant Safari Park Taro Bali Review - Ride an Elephant

Then it was time for our Elephant ride! Our Elephant, Nikki, was a fully grown 30 year old Asian elephant weighing about 500kg and eating around 250kg a day - and she's a Mum too! Nikki had a baby, Risky, who was later one of the stars of the Elephant Show.

We plodded along at 8km per hour through the forest, passing through land which is actually owned by local farmers (and shared with the park) so we also got to see some Balinese Cows, chickens and other animals. Our ride ended after wading through the pool and posing for a photo op - and check out that smile!

It definitely wasn't a smooth ride - but it was an experience we'll never forget. After riding the elephants we checked out the gift shop and bought some presents for family and then watched the elephant show before exploring the grounds of the park. Once I get my other camera up and running, I'll be sure to share some video footage with you all!

The Details
  • Where? Elephant Safari Park, Taro Ubud 
  • How much? Ticket price varies and Bali Adventure Tours have packages available which include the Elephant Park and other activities. We paid $86 per person which included car transfers to/from our hotel, lunch (included but not an optional cost even though we didn't have lunch there), our time in the park and a 1/2 hour elephant ride. Total cost for both of us: $172 for a half day activity.
  • Southern In-Law approved? Definitely! It was something that both of us have always wanted to do and it was a great experience. It's one of those things you only do once but remember forever.
  • Our must do's? The elephant ride, of course (you'd be surprised how many people don't ride an elephant!) and also check out the gift shop - the prices are so much cheaper than you'd expect on most things and the quality is brilliant. 

But tell me, have you ever rode an Elephant? 
What animal experience is on your bucket list? 
I've walked a tiger, snuggled a koala, fed kangaroos, rode an elephant but I'd really like to swim with elephants and I'd really love to go on an African safari!

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  1. ahhhhh how fun, Kristy!!!! I would love to ride an elephant someday and ahhahhaha I laughed at the "vacuum sucking my leg" comment. I can't imagine how strange that would feel 0_0 And you're looking so gorgeous as usual, girl! And omgness I want to go to Bali! Yep, that is much needed right now. :D Well...a girl could dream for a while I guess, haha.

    1. Haha, it was so weird!! Thank you so much, lovely lady!

      Just think, one day you may be able to take Selah on an elephant ;P

  2. I've been there and rode elephants too- it's awesome right! :)


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