In 2009, after watching the movie “The Bucket List” and after going through a full physical for the first time in my life(!!), I wrote my own Bucket List. Number 1 on my list is: “African Safari – ride an Elephant, see Gorilla’s in the wild, see Victoria Falls (between Zambia and Zimbabwe).” There are 78 items on my Bucket List and vary from the very simple (Number 12 – See a spectacular sunrise. This one is complete – it was the sunrise from top of Mount Haleakalā on Maui Island in Hawaii) to the hard-to-achieve (Number 77 – take off and land in a plane on an aircraft carrier in the ocean). Number 25 on my list is “Go White Water Rafting”.
On Thursday August 15th in Bali, I managed to do 1.5 items off my Bucket List! After a 45 minute drive from our villa in Seminyak to the Bali Adventure Tour center, we were shown to the locker room. After stowing our change of clothes, we then went to get kitted out in helmets, life jackets and collect our paddles!
As you can see, they are used to children as young as Isabelle and Oliver as all their gear was sized for them. There were about 500 steps down from the reception center to the River Ayung. These are well built, with solid handrails and are wide enough to accommodate a couple of people. It is just a long walk down – Owen and the kids had jelly legs at the bottom!
Once in the raft, the action started. It was just us 4 plus Wayan in our raft, so a very personalized and fun experience. The rafts had safety ropes and foot holes and none of us fell out!! We spent about 2.5 hours going down a 9.6km stretch of river, navigating through 33 class II and III rapids. Superb unspoiled rainforest, rice paddy fields, waterfalls that seem to drop from heaven and the most spectacular 500 meter stone carving were our views for the entire ride.
Along several parts of our journey, Wayan stopped the raft so that we could get out and take photos and stand underneath ice cold waterfalls! The picture above is just one small section of the 500 meter long carving in the rock.
At one point, at a particularly good rapid drop off, Bali Adventure Tour photographers took photos of us. I love this set of 5 because you can see the surprise in the kids faces as we come over the rapids…..
Once we reached the end of the rapids, we had to climb back up more stairs. Another 500 steps and this time all our legs were jelly!! Oliver, the charmer, was carried some of the way by Wayan.
The facilities were excellent with good showers (including shampoo and soap!) plus hairdryers. Once we were all clean, it was up to the top of the building for a buffet meal and rehydration. Great views over the rain forest and rice fields from here. This was a very short turnaround as we needed to get in the bus to go to the Elephant Safari park, Taro, Ubud. This park is an official member of the World Zoo Association and meets International Standards for animal care. It is set in more than 2 hectares of eco tourism landscaped botanical gardens, surrounded by national forest. Acclaimed as the World’s Best Elephant Park, the facilities include a full Reception and Information Centre, a comprehensive Museum, with a large collection of elephant memorabilia and the only Mammoth Skeleton in South East Asia.
For people who know me well, this chance to get up close and personal with these incredible animals is a dream. I have collected elephants in all forms (except for ivory, of course) since I was little. I have supported specific campaigns through Ele-Friends and the WWF to protect these magnificent creatures. All of us had the opportunity to hand feed them, touch them, take photos with them, and then – best of all – ride on them in a night time safari.
There are 3 baby elephants in this Safari park and successful breeding is a sure sign of animal wellness. The elephants in this park are the Sumatran elephant and is the smallest in the world, up to five times smaller than its African cousin (which are actually my favourites). While they can be gentle and playful, they have strong and unique personalities and get bored and despondent if they are just hanging around. They also need to exercise, so their rides through the jungle is a key to their happiness and health. (The weight of two people is easily borne by an 800 kilo creature). After we had fed a few of the elephants we walked over to the Mother and Baby.
There was a brief “talent show”. 3 elephants played football, basketball and walked along the beam that these 2 are sitting on above. While an elephant skillfully kicking a soccer ball or wielding a paint brush may seem a little gimmicky (and made me a little uncomfortable), I have learned that in the wild they will often kick around coconuts, or use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the earth.
The elephants are beautiful! They certainly looked healthy and happy. I believe that the wild is the best place for all animals, but due to human devastation, most of the Elephant land in Sumatra is now unavailable to them. If you would like to see the elephants that we fed and rode on, then check out this link:
Oh – I have now completed 19 of the 78 items on my bucket! Number 25 – complete! Number 1 – partially complete!