Before having kids, I have never thought about searching for farm stay or visiting the zoo. Life has become less of a “me-only-complex” since the arrival of children. Nowadays, our holiday destinations are more geared towards family friendly resorts and places which are able to accommodate children and their needs. And we found out about this hidden gem in Bali, Indonesia – Mara River Safari Lodge where we will be staying in close proximity with the Safari animals.
The elder boy was all hyped up about the trip when we told him he would be seeing elephants, zebras and lions. The flight to Bali was rather short but it was Mindon’s first trip on an aeroplane. He survived the journey quite well with minimal fuss. After arrival at the airport, it took us more than an hour ride in a mini van to reach the resort.
We were given carrots to feed the animals at our balcony. My boy was all excited and holding a carrot (picture above) waiting to throw to the rhino, zebras and horses.
The resort was kind enough to provide mosquito nets for both the poster bed as well as the baby cot. The room was air-conditioned and there were hardly any mosquitoes around. An open air rain shower (not pictured) was available in the toilet and there was a rustic kampong feel to the whole set-up.
We were fairly amazed at the size of the resort. Besides visiting the animal enclosures, there were plenty theme parks to go to. Here, my boy was telling me he wanted to take the jungle cruise.
The water theme park looked pretty amazing and elaborate. There was more than one such area – this photo didn’t do justice to show you how extensive it is. You can literally spend the entire day here swimming and chilling out in the water.
The lion’s den and its habitat was facing the main dining area. You can have your breakfast, lunch and dinner here, with the lions watching you or rather you watching them. During feeding times, the zoo keeper would bring the lions closer so that everyone had a chance to snap photos.
See how close I am to the lion? We manage to see the lionesses resting in a separate enclosure in the washroom.
We tried to ask him to stand closer to the elephant for a picture. But the shy boy stood several arms length away and kept glancing back to make sure the elephant didn’t raise its trunk to poke him from behind.
Like most zoos and safaris, there were animal shows at regular intervals. The animals were generally well trained and the zoo keepers managed to get them to perform tricks in front of the audience. A tiger climbing a tree was a rare sight for many.
There was plenty to choose from on their restaurant menu. If you walked further into the village, there was souvenir shops and food court which served affordable meals as well.
We were pleasantly surprised when we returned to find our room decorated with flowers and leaves. My boy was more excited than I am and kept telling the whole world that it was his mummy’s birthday that day.
The birthday cake was presented with much fanfare as the restaurant staff marched in with drums and traditional Indonesia musical instruments and sang birthday song for me.
The other highlight of the trip was the ride in a caged vehicle to visit the safari animals at night. The zoo keeper enticed the tiger to jump onto the cage to get his meat and some of us managed to stroke his belly from below. Then, the tiger had his saliva splattered on our faces as he scampered and jumped off our vehicle. It was an interesting, yet daunting experience for the three-year-old who remained awed and petrified throughout the half an hour ride. The baby, however, remained unfazed in Daddy’s arms and unsure of what was going on.
We had a good BBQ buffet dinner before the night performance, which was a display of traditional Indonesian fork lore and dance.
I was expressing milk throughout the 3 days trip; the resort provided the option to ride in their golf buggy to your room if you were too tired to travel on foot. My boy loved his buggy ride and made fast friends with the driver. He oohed and aahed as the buggy rode up and down the bumpy road. Kids know best how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life!
The resort was too huge to cover within 3 days; there were plenty of other activities which we have missed or attractions which we have not seen. With 2 kids in tow, it was almost impossible to ask for more. Being safe and together is all a mother can ask for.
Definitely a thumbs up for this family friendly resort.