Up Close & Personal Activities With Elephants At Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia

Up Close & Personal Activities With Elephants At Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia
Tejo
Tejo 
Updated

Lampung is a province located in the southern Sumatra island of Indonesia. It provides travelers with various intriguing and low cost attractions, one of which is Way Kambas National Park. Covering 1,300 sqm land area, this is the center for elephant training in Indonesia. There are around 100 Sumatran elephants living in the park. Half of them have been tamed for entertainment purposes and live together in a monitored area (the other half live freely in Way Kanan animal sanctuary, a part of the national park). These elephants have been tamed and they are trained to work in circuses. Whenever needed, these elephants are sent to different circuses all over Indonesia (they are rented by circus coordinators). So this place is where Indonesian circus elephants are from. What can you do in here?

Bathe the elephants!

up close & personal activities with elephants at way kambas national park, indonesia | bathe the elephants!

Located in the east of Lampung province, Way Kambas National Park is open to visitors from 8am to 6pm and it’s only 20,000 IDR (1.40 USD) per person for the entrance fee. Every morning at 8am and evening at 5pm, elephant handlers bathe the elephants in a pond. The bathing process takes 1 hour. First, the handlers let the elephant dip themselves in a pond for approximately 30 minutes. These fun-loving mammals like to play in water and use their trunk to spray water into the air.

Then, the handlers will plunge into the pond to help bathe the elephants. They use a bucket and a brush (like the one used in the bathroom) to clean the elephants (they don’t use soap). They will scoop a bucket of water and splash it onto the elephant’s body and start scrubbing with the brush. Can you help them bathe an elephant? Yes, you can. Plunge yourself into the pond and work alongside one of the handlers to scrub the big mammal. You can even ask the handler to instruct the elephant to give you a water spray from its trunk (it will be nice for a photo session!).

Feed elephants with bananas

up close & personal activities with elephants at way kambas national park, indonesia | feed elephants with bananas

Visiting Way Kambas National Park is the cheapest way to see a circus show. Every weekend and public holiday during slow season and everyday during high seasons (e.g. Islamic holiday of Ramadhan and Christmas), you can see and interact with the elephants. Sometimes, they will play with balls or kiss visitors with their trunks. The interactions take place in a confined space that stretches several square kilometers. There will also be an elephant show that takes 30 minutes, to be held every two or three hours. However, more than just watching a performance, you will get the chance to feed the elephants. You can feed them for free with bananas that you bring from home or you may buy some outside the park area (there are many hawkers selling bananas). Don’t forget to bring your children here and let them feed the elephants. Having something that big eating from their little hands is really something unforgettable, don’t you think so?

Bumpy elephant ride

up close & personal activities with elephants at way kambas national park, indonesia | bumpy elephant ride

One of the most valuable memories that you can get is the moment when you sit on an elephant’s back. For 150,000 IDR (11 USD), you can have one-hour ride touring the forest area. Don’t worry, as you would be accompanied by an elephant handler. All you need to do is sit behind him (he sits on the elephant’s nape) and enjoy your ride. Make sure you bring your camera with you, as you might see wild boars and deers in the forest during your ride.

If this is your first time riding an elephant, you need to know beforehand that it will be a bumpy ride. The bumps are inevitable, especially when this giant mammal crosses the river, ignoring the little creatures (you and the elephant handler) who are riding on its back. You will find no seat belts, straps and whatsoever on the mammal’s back (it is actually only for those who have the nerve for the ride), but remember that the elephants here are circus elephants and they are very used to interacting with humans, making the ride ‘rather’ safe (the management should make rides safer by adding the 'safety features’ though).

Way Kanan: Flora and fauna sanctuary

up close & personal activities with elephants at way kambas national park, indonesia | way kanan: flora and fauna sanctuary

There is a part of the park named Way Kanan (kanan means right side and this is located on the right part of the national park). It is a sanctuary for wild animals and many local and international researchers come here for studies. To enter, you need to pay for another 30,000 IDR (2 USD). Inside you can either walk or ride a boat for the forest tour. During the walk or boat ride, you will see some rare species like Sumatran tigers, python snakes, rhinos and elephants living freely in the forest area (that is if you are lucky, as sometimes they hide from human visitors) and for safety reasons, a ranger will be with you throughout your tour. Always stay close to your ranger, as he will tell you what to do when getting near to wild animals (e.g. not to shout or make sudden movements). He also carries a knife and a cane in case there is an emergency like being threatened by a snake.

Three-hour drive from Bandar Lampung

There are some nice hotels around the national park, and it’s best to book a room prior to your arrival to Lampung. From Jakarta, you can either take a plane or ride a ferry to the province’s capital city of Bandar Lampung. From there, you can either take a taxi or rent a car with a driver to take you to Way Kambas National Park. It is a 3-hour trip from Bandar Lampung.

Now, if you happen to be in Jakarta, Indonesia, you know you don’t have to go to Thailand for close contacts with elephants. You can do it in Way Kambas National Park!

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He is a traveler, writer, translator and teacher who has written articles on many different topics, specializing in travel,business and tech. He has spent many years in the United States,...Read more

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