I love animals, all animals (well most). Especially monkeys. So when I found out that there are monkeys galore roaming around certain parts of the island it was inevitable that I would want to go and see them. A few years ago we visited Gibraltar where their monkeys are the only wild monkey population in the European continent. They are crazy and there are hundreds of them. I was hoping the monkey population in Bali was going to be the same and I was not disappointed. We had seen them hanging around on the road side as we had passed through Ubud a couple of days previously however as we already had a trip to the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest booked we did not stop as we wanted to look forward to enjoy our organised visit.
You are greeted by a local shop owner who takes you through the forest. You can buy a bag of monkey nuts for 2,000IDR (approximately 10p) we therefore bought 3 bags. The monkeys clock them straight away and crowd round you. It’s important that you throw them to the big, bad boys first before the smaller ones and babies as you could start a mad monkey fight! We were advised before we entered the forest not to wear sun glasses or have anything loose that the monkeys could grab and make off with. I’m glad we took that advice! The guide has a stick which put me off at first as it struck me that perhaps the monkeys are mistreated. But she explained it was for our safety if the monkeys got aggressive towards us. Luckily for us they didn’t and the stick was not needed.
It was great to see the monkeys playing with each other, climbing trees and splashing around in the fountain. Our guide also pointed out a mother and one week old baby which was an amazing sight to see. We walked about the perimeter of the temple located here and I felt it was a shame that we actually didn’t go into the forest which adjoined it to see the monkeys in their natural habitat. You could have your picture taken with fruit bats and snakes (for a cost) but both Mr ESLT and I thought that the way that the keepers were handling the animal looked cruel and we didn’t want to support such treatment so we quickly walked on by.
With more nuts bought the monkeys flocked again this time the guide invited us to sit down and allowed one of the monkeys to climb on our knee for pictures to be taken. Of course the leader of the troop took a liking to me and hopped straight on up. If you ever visit you will be able to spot him straight away as his top lip is missing, lost in a fight with a contender to the throne. They are very fickle creatures though because the second the last nut was eaten chief monkey legged it in search of the next visitor to feed him – literally a cheeky monkey! Mr ESLT then got a cute smaller monkey sat on his knee – typical.
Entrance is free into the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest however all of the guides own one of the shops that you must pass as you exit. Therefore, they start to apply the pressure and insist that you buy something from their shop. I have even read reviews stating that some have started crying if you don’t. Ours was quite pushy and we did eventually buckle and bought a wooden monkey from her. However, that being said we haggled her down to a couple of quid which in reality is probably how much we would have paid to visit the monkeys anyway so we didn’t feel too ripped off.
A great way to spend 30 minutes or so and I highly recommend you visit if you are in the Tabanan area. There are other monkey forests in Bali if this one is not doable. Or if you see them on the side of road like we originally did, why not just pull over and get a few snaps of them. They do like to pose especially if you have a treat in your pocket for them.