Still somewhat jet lagged from our 24+ hour trip out to the Bali Barat National Park, it was easy to handle the 5:45 AM wake up call. Our amazing guide from Destination Asia, Mr. G, was there ready to take us to our first excursion of our Bali trip.
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We were driven a short distance to a dock where we met another tour guide, Mr. N. He was a local who specialized in the indigenous species to Bali Barat, and was going to take us on a walk through the park to spot wildlife, and then a ride out to do snorkeling on Menjangan Island. We quickly devoured our boxed breakfast from the hotel, partly out of hunger, partly out of fear of the gray monkeys hanging around wanting to steal our food. Then we were off on a boat headed to the tip of the peninsula that houses Bali Barat National Park.
Bali Barat National Park is up in the northwest corner of Bali, and the only national park on the island. Founded in 1941, it’s 190 square kilometers of protected space that is home to many endangered species of flora and fauna, including many species that are only found in this portion of the island. It’s home monsoon forests, mangroves, and the reason for it’s creation, the endangered Balinese starling, a small white bird. The park is a beautiful natural wonderland and were were excited to explore it.
We got off at a dock and walked a path along the shore line. As we walked along I was a bit surprised. After seeing so many pictures of Bali, I was a expecting more jungle. But this was west Bali, which is a bit different, and looked a bit more like a forest I might find at home, but with a few key differences. Along the way we saw lots of cliffs that rock that looked much more like coral than rock. Also, there were these amazing trees called crocodile trees. They are highly prized due to their unique wood.
But the other thing we saw a lot of was animals. We went early in the morning to see the animals before they went into hibernation from the hot sun. We saw a few Menjangan deer, for which the resort we are staying at and small island near by are named for. We also saw the endangered Balinese Startling flying around, a beautiful white bird with blue stripes. We saw a few blue jays and beautify butterflies. And we even saw a warthog!
But the big payoff was the black monkey. Gray monkeys, the naughty guys you see in all the instagram pictures, are all over the island. But the black monkey is only in west Bali. They are much bigger than there gray cousins, but they are also shyer. They are herbivores, so they are much more gentle and avoid confrontation. At first we only saw then as they dashed through the trees ahead of us. At one point, we hiked up a big hill to see the view, and were rewarded with a group of black monkeys in a tree, faaaarrrrr in the distance. But the real reward came at the end of the hike. As we walked toward the dock, we saw several black monkeys hanging out in the tree canopy above us. I guess the trees were high enough, they didn’t move. So they allowed us to walk UNDER them! We got some great pictures and the kids were psyched.
After that, we did a quick removal of clothing (bathing suits were underneath) and quick shoe change to walk into the water and board the boat to snorkeling. We rode the boat out to the island, but our guide thought the coral didn’t look good around the dock, so we took the boat out to a different spot where the coral was much more alive and active. From there we put on life jackets, masks and snorkels, and jumped into the water. This was the first time for the kids. Once they got comfortable, they were amazed. I have to say, I wish I had been brave enough to use my waterproof phone case on this snorkeling trip. It’s some of the most amazing coral and fish variations I’ve ever seen, and I have no pictures. Imagine the coral reef from Finding Nemo. That’s what it looked like. Zebra fish, rainbow fish, starfish, coral of all colors, and a cliff off to some of the bluest water you have ever seen. I loved every minute. Unfortunately the current was strong, so got tired easily. We swam back to the boat for some fresh fruit and the ride back.
We were all sad to get back to shore and go back to the Menjangan after such an amazing morning. But we were also hungry and jet lagged so the hotel restaurant was a welcome sight when we got back. But the kids are still talking about the monkeys and the fish, and I think they will remember this for a long time to come.
Bali Barat National Park
- Fees: Rp 25,000 per person
- Hiking: A Guide is required to hike in the park. Fees are negoitionable to about Rp 50,000 to Rp 100,000
This trip was part of our series Robin Turns 40 – Celebrating in Bali, Indonesia
*Stared photos taken by Atma Photography