Up Close with the Animals in Taman Safari

I fondly remember my family’s weekend or holiday trips to the Puncak area, a mountaineos region in West Java, just a little past Bogor. Usually a three hours drive away from Jakarta, all our belongings would be stuffed in the trunk while our family of six squeezed in and got cosy.  We would always order two boxes of pizzas from Pizza Hut and enjoy them in the car for lunch.

Puncak during my childhood years

Puncak during my childhood years

Along the way, there was the expected traffic, especially on the small two lane road where a bunch of street sellers would be peddling snacks and drinks right to your car window. Then there was the usual, “Are we there yet” as we groan and wonder when we would reach the resort, where we could enjoy the cool weather and fresh air. We would usually take nature walks once we were there and if we were lucky, our parents might let us go horse riding. (It wasn’t cheap by our standards, so it was a real treat when we could.) My favorite part was eating a plate of piping hot Indonesian fried rice on a cold morning or a delicious grilled cob of corn on the cold nights.

On the way back, we would sometimes pass by Taman Safari in Cisarua. My childhood memory of the place is all but faint, since the last time I visited the place as a child was when I was five years old. But it has definitely improved over the years (a surprise since most Indonesian places of attraction only gets older with lack of maintenance and wear and tear over the years) and returning there certainly made me nostalgic of my childhood years.

"What's this strange creature looking at me?" The camel thinks

“What’s this strange creature looking at me?” The camel thinks

I was eager to bring my friend (visiting from Singapore) somewhere outside of the city. We left at about 10am; we hit traffic in central Jakarta area but the road there was relatively smooth and we reached at about 12.30pm. (Without traffic, it might only take an hour)

The entrance fee (85,000 Rupiah per adult plus additional 15,000 per vehicle) wasn’t cheap by Indonesian standard, but from what I see, it pays for the workers and environment and keeps the animals happy, so it was well worth it. The first part of the ride was the safari portion. You basically sit in a car and watch the animals from close distance and some of the animals actually roam around freely and approach the cars that pass by, begging for a snack of carrots. (Of course all the cars are careful to move at the speed of a snail) It was nice to see the animals living in a natural environment and many of the backdrops are actually elaborately created. For example, the lions slept on earthy stone structures with castle ruins in the background, making one feels as if one has gone back in time to the Babylon era.

After seeing more than 20 different kinds of animals, from the Malayan Sun Bear to the Barbary Sheep, we exited the Safari area and arrived at the amusement park portion of the Safari . The whole park makes use and retains a lot of its natural habitat, so it follows the original hill it was built on and all the attractions are spread out uphill. At the base are several restaurants and mini rides for children, photo booths and elephant rides. As you go uphill,  there is a water park (which we didn’t visit, but there are a lot of slides). Since we were in the mountain regions, the weather was cool and not really suited for swimming, but in June it should be warmer. There are also a crocodile park, komodo dragon park, penguin pool, a primate center and many other animals parks as you keep going uphill. To top it all of, at the very peak of the park is the Jaksa Waterfall.  As a waterfall lover, this is just the best all-in-one park where I not only get to see animals of all kinds, there’s a bonus waterfall!

Warm fresh milk, comes in plain, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. yum.

Warm fresh milk, comes in plain, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. yum.

I’m not an expert on animals and I’m actually not even a big fan of zoos (Animals on discovery channel are much more interesting to watch than in the zoo), but from what I see, most of the animals seem to be pretty content. With the recent death of animals in the Surabaya zoo attracting worldwide attention, it’s good to see that there are still some decent zoos in Indonesia.

On the way home, we passed by a milk factory and restaurant, Cimory. Ah, warm fresh milk on a cold evening and a beautiful scenery of the surrounding villages and plantations as you relax. A great way to end the evening.

Selected photo hauls here.

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