Never have I ever….gone white-water rafting, elephant riding and spent my Valentines Day in Bali….DRINK! Wow! What an amazing day this was! We get picked up from Bali Adventure Tours at 8:00am from our Resort and taken to their motherboard tour office where all of the excitement happens. Folks, there’s a reason they’re the number one tour group in Bali. They have it down to a system. Everyone checks in one way, receives a water-proof, digital-lock, wristband for the locker where you can leave everything that shouldn’t be coming white-water rafting with you stored safely and securely, then back to your specific driver that picked you up that morning (so no one gets lost) they then take you to get your equipment, helmet, life jacket, paddle etc. Then begins the descent of a million steps down to the rafts where you are gonna board a one-way ticket down Ayung River.
It’s fun, its bustling, everyone’s excited, the instructors are splashing each other and us, they’re boarding the groups and explaining four simple instructions….forward paddle, back paddle, boom-boom and BIG boom-boom. Any guess what Boom-Boom means? No? It’s the feeling when the boat bumps into, up or down the rocks that you crash into. Don’t worry, its just like playing bumper cars, except with rafts, in a river, that there’s no control of. Its FUN!!! I’m just trying to scare you because that’s also fun 😛
So we try and nab someone that speaks good English, looks fit, and are also in a group with people that speak or at least understand English too, it’s no help if you and him are the only ones paddling like we saw many a raft passenger sadly get stuck with. Be the smart traveller and get the group you think will be the best fit for you. If not, no biggie, you’re just gonna get stuck a little on some rocks, nothing a little simultaneous-group-butt-wriggling won’t fix. Luckily we stuck with the two Aussies we were picked up with that morning and the four of us and our instructor set off down the vast Ayung River.
“Forwaaaaaard Paddddddle!!” Wow. Okay. This is no joke. I’m paddling down a river. It’s a strong river. There’s a rock. Does he see the rock? We missed! We missed the rock! Yay! He knows what he’s doing! “BIG BOOM BOOM!!!” Waaaahhhhhh. I crunch down in the bottom of the raft as we dip down a mini waterfall over some rocks and continue down the river. “Okaaay Forwad Paddddle!”Alright, I’mma have to work for this. It’s a combination of easy breezy enjoy the scenery, and, our raft just crunched up a jagged rock and we are back paddling to get off it. Fun times! But for real, whaaaat a view! It’s beyond beautiful! I felt like I was on this adventure to find some undiscovered land that many Japanese tourists were also on an adventure to find.
I definitely feel like Bali Adventure Tours offer more bang for your buck though, as we passed a lot of other tour companies only just starting when we were already at least 20 minutes in and also finishing before we finished, so they definitely offer a longer trip, which you want, because it’s amazing. There are little waterfalls, and big ones along the way, on the sides, that you can stop and get utterly drenched under, there’s a slow stream where you can jump off the raft and swim along beside it if you are feeling daring. I was. But not so many others did. I’ve swum down the Ayung River though, have you? There’s even Balinese locals parked on some banks along the side that you can buy a refreshing coconut drink from! At one point we had to walk up to another bank to re-board as there were fallen trees blocking the river path, so while we walked up and over our instructors lifted the rafts over the trees and carried them for us to the re-board entry point, what service!
There wasn’t any crazy drop at the end, just smooth paddling, some laughable boom-booms, frantic paddling, splash wars with other tour groups, some GREAT scenery, waterfall swims and a little love-heart shaped cobble stone that caught my eye on the way up the one million and ONE steps (it felt longer on the way up) to the well-earned Balinese style buffet lunch! When you reach the top there are shower facilities with towels, shampoo/soap where you had stowed your belongings in your locker earlier that you can use to freshen up before you indulge in the buffet lunch – all-included!
After you have regained your strength with some good eats, those who are going on to the Elephant Safari like we were, head off with all our belongings towards The Elephant Safari Park & Lodge, which I found out you can actually stay at and then swim and wash the Elephants in the morning as an added guest bonus – noted!
When you first arrive you can walk through the Elephant Museum which I actually loved because it gave me great information as to why these gentle giants are here, which I found out were all from rescue areas in Sumatra where there is an over-population of poachers making it near impossible for these beauties to survive. Honestly, you hear things “they are cruel to them” or “they are kept as prisoners” so I was truly preparing for the worst, but it actually was not bad at all.
Truth: They are kept on chains on one foot BUT I found out this is only for feeding and sleeping, makes sense. If they were stealing each others food there would be fights, so that’s understandable. I get that they are just being themselves and aren’t made for “show” use but if you measure up being poached with minimal chance to survival, against a long 50 year and beyond life with mass amounts of food and good care and nourishment it’s actually a little easier on the mind. I asked a lot of questions. Does it hurt them? No, not at all.
What does it mean when the elephants ears flap? It means they are happy. The guide then went on to tell me when the ears are back its scared, when the ears are forward it’s angry or trying to make themselves look bigger. Well, my elephant’s ears were flapping non-stop! They truly did seem happy. The guide told me this was his elephant; they worked closely together for 5 years and build a trusting relationship! I don’t know if those awful stories are true but I DO know that most of us travellers wouldn’t want to see that or be a part of something that encourages that, so I can say with full force taking a tour or ride with The Elephant Safari Park & Lodge will leave you feeling happy and pleased that these cuties get great care in a healthy environment!
We finished the day with a little feeding and some hugs! Said our “I love you’s” to our beautiful Valentine – Ryan the Elephant, and dozed off on the peaceful drive back to our hotel with Bali Adventure Tours – what an amazing and fun-filled day! We had a great time with this tour package and I would highly recommend booking through Bali Adventure Tours, they have done their homework, they source the best for you and as their logan states they are “Still the One!”