Getting groomed at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
If you’re looking for fun things to do in and around Ubud on the island of Bali, you’re going to hear about the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. It’s not hard to find since it’s located right in the center of town on Monkey Forest Road.
Mama and baby monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest
Highly photogenic primate at the Monkey Forest in Ubud
Located on a site of a Hindu temple complex in the village of Padangtegal, the Monkey Forest Sanctuary has about 700 macaques roaming freely on the grounds. These are also known as Balinese long-tailed monkeys, scientific name Macaca fascicularis.
Lunch break for a Balinese long tail monkey
These primates wander freely through the twenty seven acres of protected, jungle-like park grounds. They are very used to being around humans and not in the least bit frightened of people.
Monkey on the stairs
There are also fruit vendors selling bananas, should you wish to feed the monkeys. I’d suggest passing on the chance to feed the monkeys. These Balinese long tail monkeys are already very comfortable with humans and can get aggressive. One jumped on my back and grabbed my hair while I was holding a banana. And we all know how virus movies start, don’t we?
Up close with a monkey at the Sacred Monkey Forest
With an entry fee of less than two US dollars, visiting the Monkey Forest Sanctuary is definitely a worthwhile activity if you’re visiting Ubud, which is known as Bali’s cultural center.
Super cute monkey in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud
Pro-Tip: skip the bananas. Feeding the monkeys makes them very aggressive. They have no problem opening your backpack or grabbing your iPhone
Hotel pools are a huge draw for guests. #PoolPorn is a real thing. There are pools with lazy rivers and water slides for children. There are pools that overlook dramatic scenery. Some have swim-up bars. But the infinity pool at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania might be the most amazing hotel pool I’ve ever seen. Because it features swim-up bar for elephants and zebras instead of the human guests.
Time lapse of the watering hole at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti
The Four Seasons Safari lodge pool overlooks a watering hole which is heavily used by herds of elephants and zebras and other wildlife in the area, much to the delight of guests who can watch the action from their lounge chairs or while in the water.
The lazy man’s safari– complete with bathrobe at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge
There is separation in elevation so that guests swimming in the pool have a great vantage point but are still at a safe distance from the enormous animals.
Infinity pool overlooking an elephant at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge
The pool and the surrounding area, including an outdoor restaurant, make for the ultimate lazy person’s safari. Many of the hotel rooms and suites also have views of the watering hole action from their windows or balconies.
A thirsty herd of elephants headed towards the watering hole
The watering hole action is busiest during the dry season, when water is more scarce in the plains of the Serengeti.
Zebras and elephants sharing the watering hole
While herds of zebras and elephants would use the watering hole at the same time, they did not mix. The zebras stuck together and so did the elephants.
A fawn non-plussed by the action at the watering hole
Pool porn is a competitive thing in the luxury hotel industry, and the Four Seasons Safari Lodge has gone seriously next level with it’s watering hole next to the pool design.
A local elephant taking a dip
The watering hole is man made, but is more popular than the natural watering hole on the ground that can only be viewed from a few high end suites.
Infinity pool + elephants = win
The hotel’s restaurant has seating outside near the pool, so guests can enjoy the view and poolside safari action throughout their stay. The friendly waitstaff has no problem bringing a cocktail to your lounge chair if you’d like to sip on a gin & tonic while watching the wildlife. It’s the ultimate passive safari for a day you need a break from the bumpy roads of Serengeti National Park.
During my stay at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti, the staff arranged for me to take a full day trip to the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation area. The Ngorogoro is one of Tanzania’s great treasures, and a stunning place to see unique landscape and wildlife.
Red earth, white clouds, and saline lakes in the Ngorogoro Crater
The Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The crater is the centerpiece for the area. It’s the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. So the landscape is rather unique.
Grey Crowned Crane
The Ngorogoro Crater is stark and beautiful, with the vast landscape dotted with wildlife. While I do not consider myself much of a birdwatcher, the birds in the area are stunning. During certain times of the year, flocks of flamingos are present in the saline lakes.
Rocky roads leading into salt flats and canyons of the Ngorogoro
The Ngorogoro Crater Conservation area is large, and it was a long (and bumpy) three hour drive from the Serengeti Lodge. I found the area interesting enough that I wish I had more time there. On my next trip to Tanzania I hope to stay in the area longer to learn more about it and see more of the interesting and unique ecosystem.
Zebra were plentiful on the grasslands of the Ngorogoro Crater
Zebra feeding on the grasslands
Hippos in a lake in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area
Much cleaner Hippos than in the muddy hippo pools of the Serengeti
Kori Bustard, the largest flying bird native to Africa
Ostrich in the Ngorogoro grasslands
Wildebeest in the Ngorogoro Crater
Ponds and trees in the Ngorgorgo Crater
Giraffe in the Ngorgoro Crater Conservation Area, Tanzania
The Ngorogoro’s oddly beautiful landscape
Giraffe in the bushes
Obligatory “tourists taking a selfie” pic in the Ngorogoro Conservation area
Stark landscape + Giraffes in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area
Herds of Wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti
There is good reason why going to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to witness the Great Migration is on virtually every shortlist of dream safaris. During the annual great migration, vast numbers of animals including herds of wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and eland and move between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the adjacent Masai Mara in Kenya seeking water and grazing land.
Sunlight on the shaggy manes of wildebeest
The migration pattern follows the seasonal rains in East Africa, although the dates aren’t precise and can vary slightly from year to year. The sheer number of animals (estimated to be near 2 million total) makes it one of the most visually stunning wildlife events that takes place on the planet.
A herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara River
The journey isn’t always a safe one. Large crocodiles lay in wait in the Mara river, knowing it’s just a matter of time before a slow or injured wildebeest crosses their paths. Prides of lions are plentiful in the Serengeti for good reason. It’s like living in an apartment located next to a grocery store. I’ve been on a handful of safaris and I’ve never seen such well fed, satiated lions.
A herd of wildebeest crossing the Mara river during the great migration
Wildebeest (also known as gnus or wildebai) are abundant and follow a seasonal map that is generally predictable. That is one of the reasons I chose to stay at the & Beyond Under Canvas Serengeti camp.
Magic hour skies and wildebeest
&Beyond Under Canvas Seregeti’s camp is semi-permanent and moves locations a few times through the year to follow the migration patterns of the herds and maximize wildlife viewing opportunities for guests. The excellent rangers and trackers at &Beyond Under Canvas helped me capture these amazing images of wildebeest.