It took many, many Getaway trips before I could say I had spent the night in a zoo, and I went to Bali Safari & Marine Park, an hour’s drive from Kuta, to make that claim.
I woke to unusual bird calls, lions roaring in the distance and from my balcony, I could see zebras, ostriches and a fat rhino. I then travelled to breakfast on the back of an elephant – another first.
Bali Safari & Marine Park has hundreds of amazing animals representing over 60 species, all roaming free in large enclosures mimicking their natural habitats. There are rare and endangered creatures such as the komodo dragon, orangutan (we share 96% of our genetic make-up with them!), Bali mynah, Sumatran elephant and Sumatran tiger. The park is at the frontline of wildlife conservation in Indonesia and is actively involved in ensuring the survival and wellbeing of many Indonesian animal species.
There are animals from Indonesia, India and Africa including spotted deer, Himalayan bears, nilgai, black bucks, African hippos, zebras, camels, ostriches, baboons, lions and blue wildebeests. One of the favourite displays is Ranthambore – a replica of an ancient Indian fort in the city Rajasthan where majestic white tigers roam. Kampung Gajah (Elephant Village) is a sanctuary for retired working elephants.
Visitors can enjoy a journey on the Safari Tram or elephant back and interact with their favourite animal up close at Animal Encounter. Safari guides answer all your questions as you move through the landscaped natural habitats and will help you spot animals camouflaged by vegetation.
There are free live animals shows and the new 1200 seat mega stage Bali Theatre runs interesting and educational films.
The Waterpark has two pools and slides leading into crystal water. The Climbing Car is a ride for children between 3 and 10 years old. Children enjoy tootling along the rail track in little cars fitted with safety belts.
A carousel with colourful horses and cabins plays beautiful music as it goes around, while Go Go Bouncer takes the form of an octopus with twelve tentacles which move up and down.
The Flume Ride slides from 10 metres up and you might just get a little bit wet! Bumper Car involves hitting and pushing in cars in a large area and Bom Bom Boat is very similar but is in a boat on the water.
There are over 40 hectares to explore, so to try and take in everything on offer, you really need at least a day! If you decide you really want more time, Mara River Safari Lodge is in the thick of the jungle action and before long you feel as though you are in the African wilderness. There’s a wonderful range of rooms to choose from and you can feed exotic animals from your window. Lazing by the pool you will see and hear animals as you are served cool drinks and snacks.
With the shadow of Bali’s sacred Mount Agung looming in the distance, the lodge is beautifully tranquil. Rhinos, zebras and oryx graze at close range while lions roar declaring their status as king of the beasts.
Tsavo Lion Restaurant under a towering thatched roof serves breakfast, lunch and dinner of African or international cuisine. Glass panels allow views of beautiful landscaping and diners watch the lions as they stare back.
Uma (Indonesian for paddy field) Restaurant is themed on a Balinese village and serves international, Asian and local specialities from open counters.
Guests at the lodge are first through the gates when the park opens.
To find out more, and to book a visit to the beautiful Bali Safari & Marine Park, visit balisafarimarinepark.com
For accommodation, visit balisafarimarinepark.com/mara-river-safari-lodge