When we first decided to visit Bali, one of the first things that I researched was the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Everything I read about it made it seem more and more fascinating. Technically, the forest is a nature reserve which contains a Hindu temple, yet it is also a hugely popular tourist attraction- and I can definitely see why!
On arriving and paying 20,000 Indonesian Rupiah (about £1.25) per person I didn’t have the highest of expectations. I have heard a lot of negative press surrounding animal-based tourist attractions, particularly in Asia, and was worried that this may be just another place where the animals are locked in cages and treated with a low standard of care.
However, I was entirely wrong. I have learnt a great deal about the Hindu religion over the past 10 days or so and it seems to be a beautifully peaceful religion. The Sanctuary states that it adheres to the Hindu principles which the temple in the forest is built around- one of them being to maintain harmonious relationships between humans and the natural environment.
As a result of this, the forest is completely unspoilt and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful with masses of bright green trees, a natural flowing river and lovely little man-made walkways and bridges to provide easy access for visitors.
Of course the forest was stunning in itself, but when you add the adorable little monkeys into the equation, it was like strolling through the Garden of Eden. There are six different types/families of monkey in the forest and over 600 monkeys currently live there, they are entirely free to roam the huge forest and there are no gates or high fences holding them prisoner at all.
As a result of this, the monkeys are brilliant as they act completely natural in their own home comfort. For less than a pound, you can buy a bunch of bananas, which I would highly recommend doing- the monkeys come flocking the minute you hold one out! I even had one monkey stay sitting on my head to eat his whole banana, which would have been great if he didn’t smell so horrendous.
It’s important to note that I’m the first person to freak out at anything that may be ‘dangerous’ and I have heard tales of the monkeys acting viciously towards tourists, something which did slightly concern me. However, the countless signs which warn of the possibility of aggressive behaviour, also point out that the monkeys only act in this way if they feel threatened. If you follow the basic guidelines, as we did, you will leave feeling as if you’ve just made 600 of the cutest new friends ever. A good tip is to also come after 2pm as the monkeys have been fed so are much calmer and less likely to dive on you- although that was definitely part of the fun for me.
I would 100% recommend visiting the Monkey Forest if you are in Ubud. The place has outstanding natural beauty and some of the most adorable little (and large) monkeys you could imagine. The sacred Hindu temple just adds to the sense of true harmony as the worlds of the locals and the monkeys cohabit the space in such a lovely way. There’s something about the place that leaves you feeling very at one with nature (not to sound too spiritual/deep) but the place has a certain magic about it that is completely unique and special and therefore makes it well worth a visit.