Nothing could have prepared me for my visit to Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali! I should probably start by saying that I am a soppy animal lover and I get weirdly emotional about, you know, every single animal.
It goes without saying then that I was incredibly sceptical about the whole idea of a monkey forest. What is this madness? Is it ethical? Is it safe?
I had heard through the grapevine that Bali’s so-called ‘Endangered Elephant Camp’ is a big no no, with many of the elephants chained up and abused just so that visitors can ride them for £100 a go. I was desperate not to fall into that tourist trap, so I did a lot of research before going along to the monkey forest.
And I’m so glad I did!
It turns out that the sanctuary is not just a place for tourists to come and immerse themselves in something wonderful, it’s an important part of the spiritual and economic life of the local community. Conservation programs are ongoing and regular research takes place to ensure we keep learning about these little guys and gals.
The monkeys are not kept inside the temple as I’d feared but free to roam wherever they please, (your head included). It’s just a place they like to hang out. Dream come true, right?!
They are super friendly and have absolutely zero understanding of personal space.
This little bub didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t have any bananas in my bag…
It wasn’t long before she was whispering sweet nothings in Tom’s ear…
There were babies too! Cue the cuteness!
In Bali, it’s typical for sanctuaries like this one to be located in sacred village areas surrounded by temples. There are actually 3 temples inside the monkey forest, regularly used by the locals as a base for spiritual ceremonies, and by the monkeys as a giant playground.
The fury village residents are more than happy to meet a few tourists, knowing they have the freedom to get away from them whenever they want. The place is truly beautiful. Conserving the area – the temples, the forest and the animals- is an integral part of everyday life for the local villagers.
So with that in mind, spending some time with these amazing creatures felt like a once in a lifetime experience and something we’ll remember forever!
There are lots of things tourists can do to keep the monkeys happy and healthy in this awesome environment, so for more info head to the visitors webpage here. If you’re planning a trip to Ubud, make sure this is on your list!