One morning I woke up early and with no destination in mind, I jumped on my scooter, only to find myself pulling into the parking lot of Goa Gajah not long afterwards. Though it hasn’t changed much since I last visited 5 years ago, I still quite enjoyed my quick walk through the cave. For first timers, the shopkeepers out the front will attempt to persuade to buy a sarong, claiming that you need one to enter Goa Gajah. This is in fact true, however, sarongs are given freely once you pay the entrance fee (Rp 15,000). Though if you are interested in buying sarongs (if you’re a woman, for example) the shopkeepers do have some nice ones that you can pick up for around Rp 20,000. Also, once you’re inside, local guides will offer to walk around with you and give you a quick history of the site for a small fee but it is by no means compulsory to accept their assistance.
This trek must be one of Ubud’s best kept secrets! Luscious grasses spill down the slopes on either side of the gently sloping track for around 2-3 kilometres before the trail ends in place of a road that leads to the official endpoint of the trek – Karsa Kafe – where you can eat some delicious food overlooking the rice paddies or even get a massage if you find the walk sufficiently strenuous. The Campuhan Ridge Trek is best tackled early in the morning to avoid both the heat and stumbling across one of the many young local couples (as I did) who often hide just off the path.
Everybody who has ever visited this quiet coastal town on the far east coast of Bali remarks about its beauty! For me it was a simple and very short change of scenery. Between snorkelling for hours and waking up at 4am in order to go fishing with a local fisherman (Pak Nyoman) – whilst witnessing one of the best sunrises of my life – my trip was over far too soon. My only hope going forward is that the ever-growing number of tourists to Amed don’t disturb the relaxed atmosphere and more importantly, the local way of life.
A big shoutout to Mark from the Onion Collective in Ubud for inviting me on what was in essence a family getaway! Also, thanks to Sama-Sama Bungalows for great accommodation and even greater food!
The Elephant Safari Park advertises itself as the most popular tourist attraction in Bali, with the Trip Advisor reviews to back that up. Although, it is also hands down one of the most expensive (hence why I haven’t visited in my 9 previous trips to Indonesia). Now that I have been however, I can offer my own opinion.
Firstly, what to expect…
– There will be many photo opportunities (and you can use your own camera).
– The elephant ride is really short (about 20-25 minutes) and although track is well landscaped, the sound of cars and motorbikes driving up the road destroys the sense of being in a Sumatran rainforest.
– Your visit to the park will be strictly scheduled (regardless of whether or not you’re merely day-tripping or staying overnight (possibly so as to avoid panic amongst the elephants when there are hundreds of people milling around and taking photos.
– The elephants are also chained at times throughout the day (signs around the park explain why so read these before you judge too harshly.
– The mahouts carry tools (similar to the Ańkuśa) but these are rarely used.
– Dinner at the park carries 5-star price tags without the 5-star quality to back it up but breakfast was excellent (and there was lots of it).
– The elephant “talent show” is run several times a day and will not be enjoyed by all (though it does provide much need mental stimulation for the elephants). Personally, I think it should focus more on education and what the park hopes to achieve.
– Super friendly staff who will remember your name… And your room number.
For the best experience…
– Stay overnight at the Elephant Safari Park Lodge! Being able to bathe and swim with the elephants before the park opened was definitely the highlight and provided a much more hands-on experience than simply riding an elephant, taking some pictures and then feeding them through a fence.
One month after finishing school and I’ve already become an expat. What I mean to say is, I’ll be living and studying in Bali for the next 4 months. My only aim is to explore the road less travelled in Bali and across some of the other 17,500+ islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago when I can, whilst simultaneously building upon my Indonesian language skills learnt throughout high school. So, keep checking in for regular updates and handy tips regarding travel in Indonesia.