We flew Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Bali. I spent the time finishing a book I had been reading and MaryAnne watched a movie. Three hours later we landed in Bali.
We were met at the airport by a driver from the Mara River Safari Lodge and after swerving in and out of heavy traffic for an hour, we finally arrived at our destination. Traffic is horrific in Bali and the primary mode of transportation is motorbike. Motorbikes are everywhere and it appears an entire family will ride around on them and though helmets are required for the motorbike operators, they appear to be optional for small children.
Once we were checked into the Lodge and settled into our room (an awesome thatched hut on stilts overlooking the rhinos, zebra and wildebeast) we took a foot tour of the grounds. They have a white tiger onsite who was just waking up from an afternoon nap so we got to see him. He is really pretty but unfortunately lives alone in his designated area. I don't know why they can't let a couple of other tigers live with him. I can't imagine life is very good when one is
secluded like that, but he has an awesome area with a river running through it and a marshy area so he can hide from the park's visitors if he so desires.
There are so many animals here and many of them appear to roam around freely. The deer, for example, run all over the area around the resort pool and resort guests are encouraged to feed them carrots. It's recommended to keep one's fingers clear of the deer's teeth, though. I was happy I had packed antibiotic ointment.
There are a lot of elephants here and they all seem to be very friendly. Several of them are designated as riding elephants. Each one of these riding elephants are assigned a handler who spend their day with their assigned elephant taking guests out for rides. Our handler's name was Wayan and our elephant was Lola. MaryAnne and I took an early morning ride on her. Riding an elephant is a lot like being jerked forward and backward in the most violent manner possible and when the elephant trots, as Lola decided to do once or twice, we had to hang on for dear life. I wouldn't recommend elephant riding
to anyone who was not in top physical condition though we had a lot of fun riding her and were sorry when our ride was over and we had to say goodbye. She was awesome.
We packed a lot of activity into the short time we were at the Mara River Lodge and were really tired by the time we left for the airport two days after we arrived. Still, we were sorry to say goodbye to such a lovely place and such accommodating people.
Future travelers to the Mara River Safari Lodge will want to know that this is a great place to bring kids. It's almost like going to the zoo for a couple of days, though many of the animals are not caged.
There is a safari tour in an enclosed bus that will take park visitors through the areas where some of the more dangerous animals live. There are crocodiles, lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos and orangutans that live on the property and the only way to see these animals is to take the safari tour. There are also herds of zebras, wildebeast and orynx (a type of antelope) roaming around. The animals don't
appear to notice the big zebra striped bus that wanders through their backyard every now and then.
The pool area is great for kids as well as adults. There is a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning, several onsite restaurants and transportation to and from the airport. It couldn't be more easy for a family vacation.
It's not too bad for the kid-free vacation either as several of the thatched huts were secluded from the family quarters.
And if you go, the Bali Theatre Company offers a couple of must-see performances, one in particular The Legend of the Balinese Goddesses, which we both gave two enthusiastic "thumbs up!"
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