For our first weekend in Bali we decided to spoil the kids (and ourselves too!) and take a visit to the Elephant Safari Park north of Ubud in Taro. It comes highly recommended as the place to see elephants, though you need to be careful that you are not taken to one of the copycat places which may be cheaper but are not as good and do not treat the elephants as well.

There were no prices listed online which was disappointing. At the gate we had to decide on what ticket package we wanted. You can get an inclusive ticket that includes entry, lunch and an elephant ride. We opted for just the entry, which was about $20 for adults. It was another $45 each if we wanted an elephant ride, and we had been on elephants in Laos and Thailand so we were not particularly keen to spend that amount on another ride. Fortunately, we found in the fine print the short ride for kids option, and Olive was up for it. We could not see Jetson and Casper riding an elephant on their own.

Olive’s ride was first, we were quite surprised when this huge bull elephant came over to pick her up. She did not seem phased and in her usual confident style jumped right on. The elephant took her on a short lap of the main park area then down through the pool, taking about 15 minutes.

Olive riding an elephant
Olive was quite relaxed considering she was sitting on a huge bull elephant

While Olive was off on her elephant, the boys had the chance to hand feed some elephants pieces of bamboo. Jetson was so excited doing it, but Casper not at all.

Jetson feeding an elephant
Surprisingly Jetson was excited to feed the elephant, but Casper would have no bar of it.

We then went to see the baby elephant. We had seen one before at the Melbourne Zoo, but from a distance. Here we walked straight up to it and had a pat, not something you could do back home. It was very curious about the smells of our pram, maybe something to do with the dirty nappy under it. It surprisingly had a good patch of spiky hair on its head.

Baby Elephant
Up close and personal with a baby elephant

We had a buffet lunch at the restaurant on site, a good way to sample a few more Indonesian dishes. It was not cheap, but there are no other options. You can also stay in accommodation on the grounds, and they will bring you to your meal on the back of an elephant each day. Pretty unique.

After lunch they had a short elephant show, doing tricks like painting, sitting down, walking the plank, and spraying water on the crowd. We thought we had a good view at the front, but were not so sure about that after we got covered in elephant snot.

Sitting Elephants
It does not seem very natural for an elephant to sit like that

If you do visit, on the way out make sure you explore the small ponds on the scenic walk, as one contained a huge fish, really!

Overall it was an excellent day out. It was not cheap, but we did not expect any different. Overall it cost us about $160 for the day, including all the above, lunch and the taxi there and back from Ubud.

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  1. This is a zoo and one of the worst places I have ever seen elephants treated! Please read more and educate ursrlves! Their cafe sells Ivory! Their elephants are chained! They walk 12-18 hrs a day to squeeling kids and selfie snapping tourists . I left in tears. Please DO research before you praise a place that is a torture chamber for these magical creatures. Go to a real sanctuary in Thailand or Africa and see what it means to treat elephants properly . This place needs to be shut down

    1. Hi Anna. Maybe you went to one of the other nearby elephant parks, as they are not as well run and get similar criticisms to yours. The cafe definitely does not sell ivory, though there are bone carvings which you may have confused for ivory. I asked about some of the elephants being chained, and was told it is part of the management of the herds, as there are a few male elephants who can be unpredictable. They are not all chained, or always chained – you may notice none of my photos show any chained elephants. If you don’t like zoos then I am not surprised you don’t like it here. Of course there are squealing kids and selfie snapping tourists, that is what it is all about, providing the opportunity for us to get up close to these magnificent creatures.

      1. Dear ‘thewoods’,
        I would likewise emplore you to no longer seek out elephant rides, or places that offer elephant shows such as you have photos of. The reason it does not seem natural for an elephant to sit like that, is simply because it is not. The elephants in these safari parks and camps go through a training process known in Thai as ‘Phajaan’ (this may be a Thai term, but any elephant used for human entertainment has gone through this process). This translates as breaking the spirit, and they do this in the most horrific way. Baby elephants are taken from their mothers, caged, starved and beaten until they submit entirely to their human owners, some do not survive. Please, before animal cruelty becomes the norm for your children, research the information I have shared with you, I’m certain that you will see that no matter how loving the keepers seem, there is a darker side to the relationship (hence the need for them to carry bullhooks).
        As a parent, I imagine you would never want your child to be treated in this way, especially for someone else’s entertainment.
        If you wish to have encounters with elephants who are given as natural and loving a life as possible, i would strongly recommend The Elephant Nature Park in Chang Mai and Phuket. These are run by Lek Chailert, a great advocate for elephants and their welfare.

        1. Hi Jodi. I agree with you about the treatment of elephants in some parks. If you have visited this place you will be aware of how caring they are towards the elephants and the great work they are doing for elephant conservation. Unfortunately some rouge groups are abusing animals to entertain tourists and for the sake of profits.

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