Visit This Primate-Filled Nature Preserve At Your Own Risk

Although there are beautiful nature preserves all over the world, they unfortunately don’t allow you to get up close and personal with the wildlife. Most of the time, the animals themselves are too skittish, or the park limits where exactly its visitors can go. But there are always exceptions.

Deep in the forests of Bali, one breathtaking park allows humans to walk side-by-side with its wild inhabitants. But beware, for the animals roaming these beautiful and culturally rich grounds may get more personal than you would like…

Located on the island of Bali, Ubud houses a one-of-a-kind nature preserve. Thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to it each year to take in its beautiful scenery — and mingle with its mischievous inhabitants.

lakshmisharath

After paying a mere $3.40 to gain entry, park visitors are greeted by an unusually long list of rules: Do not panic. Do not run. Do not hide any food. It’s hard to imagine this place as anything but terrifying for guests.

But those rules are in place for a good reason. They protect not only those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the park’s many very particular — very photogenic — inhabitants, too.

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Ubud is known as the Monkey Forest because 600 primates — long-tailed macaques, to be precise — call it home. Of course, an animal paradise like this didn’t just pop up out of nowhere.

The nearby village of Padangtegal owns and maintains the preserve, and those in charge take their mission quite seriously. This Monkey Forest is no mere tourist trap. It has a much greater purpose.

Business Insider / Harrison Jacobs

The board of the Ubud Monkey Forest founded the site according to the Hindu tenet of Tri Hata Karana, which requires humans to achieve harmony with each other, with nature, and with God. 

And the park is harmonious indeed. Aside from including over 30 acres of forest, which includes a number of rare species, it also seamlessly weaves through stone structures carved hundreds of years ago. Of course, these aren’t the big attraction.

Business Insider / Harrison Jacobs

The real stars are, obviously, the monkeys. You would be hard pressed to find any corner of the preserve that isn’t crammed with ’em. They don’t feel too shy to ham it up for the cameras, either.

With the Monkey Forests entertaining so many guests year after year, its inhabitants have lost all fear of humans. They will gladly walk right up to guests or even take a seat on their shoulders. At the same time, they aren’t always nice to strangers.

Business Insider / Harrison Jacobs

The park staff warns visitors to not hide any food on their persons because the monkeys will find it. Incredibly bold, they won’t even think twice about grabbing a snack straight out of your mouth. And that’s not all they’ll go after.

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The Monkey Forest advises guests to lock up their valuables. The macaques are attracted to all kinds of shiny objects, including jewelry and electronics. Can you imagine the horror of a monkey swinging down at stealing your phone? They might even text your ex!

Marsel Van Oosten

Fortunately, park guards do carry small slingshots to encourage the monkeys to drop any stolen items. Nevertheless, you’re still probably better off stowing your valuables out of plain sight. But these monkeys are still friendly at heart.

Take, for instance, this Ubud monkey who came across an abandoned kitten in 2010. Against all odds, he decided to adopt the cat! Just by looking at the him, you can tell he has genuine affection for his feline pal.

Solent / Anne Young

Almost human, the monkeys do have a mystical quality about them. That’s probably why, many years ago, locals filled the forest with elegant monkey statues, which symbolize the special energy living there. There’s plenty of other wildlife as well.

In a smaller enclosure in the Monkey Forest, a family of timor rusas live quietly together. These native deer are far more reserved than their primate neighbors, so don’t expect them to eat right out of your hand.

The Colour of Indonesia

The forest holds plenty of history, too, as a sprawling temple complex lies at its center. Built all the way back in 1350, the well-preserved site includes spots for Hindu prayer, ritual bathing, and even cremation! 

The intricate temple rewards those visitors with a keen eye for detail. You wouldn’t want to miss out on some of the stunning carvings and statues, like these two child vampires locked in an embrace. Or maybe this statue is just the face you make after a monkey steals your phone.

Flickr / Shawn Allen

The Monkey Forest is also a treasure trove for all the amateur botanists out there. One hundred and fifteen unique tree species live on these grounds, including the fabled Pule Bandak. For millennia, the local Balinese have used its wood to construct striking ceremonial masks. 

So if you ever find yourself in that corner of the world, why not stop by Bali’s Monkey Forest? You’ll leave the park feeling as happy as, well, whatever this strange statue is supposed to be.

Though all of your new macaque friends will sure be sorry to see you go. Hopefully you hurry back to Ubud Monkey Forest again soon — just as long as your remember to leave your watch and phone at home!

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