/ The Cruise Traveler
Cruise — By Liz Lewis on June 5, 2010 at 1:14 am
Filed under: Attractions, Cruise, featuredarticle, wild animal park

Port of Call: The Elephant Safari Park in Bali

Benoa, Bali was the second port of call on the Dawn Princess World Cruise. But Benoa Harbor was  too small for the Dawn Princess, so we had to be  ferried from the ship to the wharf via a 30 minute tender ride in very choppy seas. At times, it was a little like riding a rollar coaster.

Then it was straight onto the bus that would take us inland to the Elephant Safari Park. Founded by Australian Nigel Mason, the Elephant Safari Park, located at the small village of Taro, is home to some pretty impressive residents – Sumatran elephants that had been made homeless following massive deforestation in their home country of Sumatra. Mason, working with the World Zoo Association, initially rescued nine of these elephants. Over the years, however, the number of elephant refugees has grown to 27.

Getting from Benoa Harbor to the Elephant Safari Park takes an hour and a half by bus and provides plenty of opportunity to see the Bali countryside and get a visual education of the everyday life of rural Bali.

Leaving the wharf, it was initially two lane highways full of buses, trucks, and hundreds of motorbikes loaded down with one, two, and sometimes three people. But the further inland we went, the narrower the roads became, with many  sharp hairpin curves and potholes that soon turned the bus ride from sedate to bumpy. 

Along the way, we passed villages full of family compounds, small stores selling statues and pots, and many, many temples dressed up in ceremonial yellow. In ditches that lined the streets, women and children washed themselves and their clothes. Meanwhile, stray chickens and dogs wandered carelessly across the roads and men lounged on steps or worked carving wood or stone.

In between the villages, we passed by rice paddies in various stages of planting, some actively being harvested by workers. 

And then, suddenly, we were at the gates of the Elephant Safari Park

As elephant parks go, this one appears first class. The elephants are cared for by individual mahouts, most of whom have been with the same elephants for years. Sitting casually on the elephant, these mahouts expertly guide their elephant around the jungle sanctuary while nervous visitors such as myself are perched on the custom fitted teak saddle seats.

It’s an amazing way to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding native vegetation.

As well as elephant rides, the Elephant Safari Park puts on a delicious buffet lunch, and for those who want to stay more than just one day, the newly opened Elephant Safari Park Lodge provides the ideal place to spend a night or two with these gentle giants.

Tags: Attractions, Cruise, featuredarticle, wild animal park

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