Wild Bali with Kids


Travelling for six weeks with my nine-year-old daughter Lucia re-opened my eyes to much of the magic of Asia. I wanted her to enjoy experiences that would open a new world to her: a world that is infinitely removed from her home in provincial Pamplona. With this in mind we set out on a month-long adventure to explore the best animal adventures that Bali has to offer.

Here are Lucia’s top five wild Bali adventures (for big kids AND little kids).


Waking before first light to climb into a rickety outrigger motorboat is about as adventurous a start to a day as any kid can bear. Lovina, on Bali’s north coast, has an immense fleet of these boats and a USD5 ticket is all it takes to (pretty much) guarantee that you’ll see at least one pod of dolphins. This is one of the best places in the world to watch bottlenose dolphins. The scene can get quite crowded but by mid-morning the dolphins will have been left to their watery solitude (and the revenue certainly secures their futures). Tip the boatman a little extra and you can also stop at the outer reef for a spot of snorkeling: “Wow! It’s like…like a city of fish!” spluttered Lucia.


Menjangan Resort offers guests short half-day horse-treks through a section of the wonderful West Bali National Park. The horses are big (Australian brumbies) but are steady enough for a child with no experience. The forests around the resort are packed with wild animals including monkeys, bushpigs and several species of deer.


Brumbun Bay is home to one of the last wild flocks of some of the rarest birds in the world. There are just nine wild Bali Starlings (gleaming avian dreams with startling flashes of blue eye-liner) but they return regularly to feed at the ranger station on this remote headland. You will need to haggle with the rangers at the national park office at Labuhan Lalang jetty and their price can be hefty (around USD150 for a family). You rent a boat and spend a night camping among a great herd of big Sambar deer (40 the night we were there) and prowling civets and monitor lizards. Take your own camping equipment or simply sleep in an open-air balé shelter (the soft breeze is just enough to keep the mosquitoes away) on the beach. 


If the photos in the reception area at Elephant Safari Park Lodge are anything to go by then this place is a big favourite with everyone from David Beckham to Sukarno’s wife to Kevin Bloody Wilson. I’m not a big fan of captive animal activities but this well-run elephant rescue centre does seem to provide a secure and safe habitat for its 30-odd rescued Sumatran elephants. Apart from the ride itself – enough to get kids of any age squealing…especially when the elephants lower their girdled bellies gratefully into the water – there’s also an impressive elephant show involving football, basketball and (surprisingly talented) painting.


By comparison the simple little turtle conservation centre at Perancak, near Negara, is one of Bali’s unsung conservation projects and perhaps the most memorable wildlife experience on the island. Depending on the season there are often several thousand baby turtles here waiting for favourable conditions for release. For a few dollars donation you are allowed to carry a dozen or so of the babies down to the edge of the breaking waves to set them free. (Of course, since only an estimated one in 1000 normally survive, the chances are slim that any of your turtles will ever make it back in 15 or so years to lay their own eggs here). With luck though your child will be back before then…and, hopefully, there will still be turtles to crawl optimistically up the beach in the dead of night.



You can get Bali included as a stopover on your RTW here



Published by Stuart Lodge