Having braved the tunnels in Darwin, in Bali (the second port of call for the Dawn Princess World Cruise) I soon moved on to a new challenge – riding an elephant.

elephant safari park baliI discovered that one of the shore excursions offered in Bali was an hour and a half bus tour inland from the Benoa Harbor (the second port of call for the Dawn Princess World Cruise) to the Elephant Safari Park where visitors are able to take an elephant ride. So, of course, I jumped at the chance, despite the fact that I’m really not all that good at heights – having to go more than two steps up a ladder causes me to break out in a cold sweat.

The Elephant Safari Park, founded by Australian Nigel Mason, is home to more that two dozen Sumatran elephants made homeless following massive deforestation in their home country of Sumatra.

Mason, working with the World Zoo Association, initially rescued only nine of these elephants but over the years, the number of elephants rescued and relocated to this elephant sanctuary rose to 27.

And as elephant sanctuaries go, this one appears first class. The elephants are cared for by individual mahouts, most of whom have been with the same elephants for years. Sitting casually on the elephant, these mahouts expertly guide their elephant around the jungle sanctuary while nervous visitors such as myself are perched on the custom fitted teak saddle seats.

Turns out stepping off the ledge onto the elephant’s back was easy. But when the elephant started moving, it soon became apparent that I was way past the third step of the ladder.

The fear, however, soon dissipated as the mahout slowly guided the elephant along the trail and I got an amazing  bird’s eye view of surrounding native vegetation.

As well as elephant rides, the Elephant Safari Park puts on a delicious buffet lunch, and for those who want to stay more than just one day, the newly opened Elephant Safari Park Lodge provides the ideal place to spend a night or two with these gentle giants.