Journeys Into The Dark with Bali’s Night Safari
Wondering where to take the kids in the evening, when the beaches are cast in darkness but the kids’ energy is still at its peak? Well, a journey hunting for nocturnal creatures might be the answer.
The Night Safari by Bali Safari & Marine Park is a program for the whole family to enjoy, which brings you closer to the usually unseen animals of the dark. This active experience of discovering ‘wildlife in the darkness’ begins with a drive in an air-conditioned safari bus through jungle-lined roads to the park’s Toraja Terminal where the Walking Safari begins. For the night safari program, the guests are divided into small, intimate groups led by a knowledgeable guide. During my own experience, the children – my daughter included – couldn’t wait to get started, excitedly throwing around questions like, “Where are the animals, can you see them!?”, as they scanned their veiled surroundings. The guided Walking Safari starts at the Komodo Cave where a couple of scarlet macaws are hanging out peacefully on the tree branches at the cave entrance. Inside the cave, our group leader went into detail about each animal there, such as the fruit bat, cute baby crocodile and the turtles, all tucked in for the night inside their glass cubicles. A huge, menacing komodo statue becomes every one’s photo spot, clinging to one corner of the cave. Under the dim light it really looks as if it is real.A family of porcupines gazed at us from their little abodes as we walked out the other side of the Komodo cave. My daughter was eager to spot the dreaded komodo dragon, so we continued walking up to the Komodo Bridge to find them. Underneath us, the dragons lay sleepily in their expansive compound and the children pointed excitedly when they spotted one of these large, prehistoric lizards. At the other side of the bridge, a wreck of an old jeep parked itself under a spotlight. What did we see? A young lion was resting on the roof of the jeep, watching us with its sharp, black eyes. Suddenly, we realised that we were only separated by a thin wire fence and some vegetation; nothing but thin air was between us and this predatory cat! Having no intention to stay around the lion too long, we followed the guide towards the Bali Theatre. We had a photo session with an elephant before entering the theatre where a traditional village layout had been set up, with actors showcasing scenes of daily Balinese life. Leaving the theatre we arrived at a winding outdoor path lined with glittering, lamp-lit trees upon which an idle iguana and a binturong were lazily lying down between the branches, getting ready for the long night ahead. Finally, the highlight of this afterhours adventure, is a journey through the man-made savannah in a caged tram. There we were standing inside a cage that rolled out into the darkness, following the trail to the herbivore enclosurse where the zebras, a group of watusi, and elephants waited to be fed, while the rhinos and camels relaxed under the trees, and the mountain sheep stood still watching us from their hilltop caves. Afterwards, it was time to switch off the camera’s flash, as we were entering the carnivore area. This is by far the most memorable and thrilling experience. Here, deep in the predator’s den our keeper threw raw meat onto the roof of the cage…suddenly our tram shook as a leaping tiger landed above us. We got splashed as the hungry tiger’s saliva dripped down into the cage. The kids, needless to say, were stunned. Our splendid night ended perfectly with a scrumptious BBQ dinner at Nkuchiro Bar and Grill, the park’s outdoor dining venue with a great view to the Mara River Lodge. We were almost finishing the dinner when we heard tribal rhythms and the flash of fire; the night was not yet over! The Africa Rhythm of Fire show is a spectacular dance performance and outstanding energetic drumming. This called for the end of our starlit safari, which granted us excitement from start to finish. Bali Safari and Marine Park Jalan Profesor Ida Bagus Mantra, Gianyar +62 361 751 300 www.balisafarimarinepark.com