‘I got up close and personal with a Komodo dragon in Indonesia’

Aug 09, 2019
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While travelling in Indonesia, Jenny visited the Taman Safari at Bogor and was amazed to have such an up-close experience with a Komodo dragon. Source: Jennifer Lockhart

Taman Safari Indonesia is a wonderful place to visit. Located at Bogor, West Java, about a 2-hour drive from Jakarta, Taman Safari Indonesia is a world-class zoo and regarded as the best conservation site by the Indonesia Ministry of Forestry.

I’d consider this wildlife park to be one of the best I’ve ever visited. The animals here roam freely in large areas. You can drive your car through the areas and animals may be fed as you’re going along.

The trip from Jakarta to Bogor was quite lengthy, not in actual kilometres travelled (roughly 60 kilometres by car), but because of the hideous traffic conditions that are part and parcel of Indonesian travel. Driving through little villages, paddy fields of rice and miles of other interesting countryside, the approach to the park is dotted with hundreds of small stalls selling carrots and bananas for the animals.

The entry fee is quite cheap (about AU$30) and once inside the compound one is able to drive wherever the road takes them. The first animals I noticed were elephants, but they were hard to miss given they were lining the driveway in wait of some bananas. The elephants came right up to the vehicles and gently took the offered treats from my hand.

What big teeth you have! Source: Jennifer Lockhart

The hippopotamus with mouths open lazing in the rivers were next. The hippos loved the carrots. These animals were not to be approached, so the carrots were thrown from the car window and they expertly caught them, making strange noises until more was tossed their way. I never realised how big the teeth on these ‘river horses’ were until I saw them in a natural environment.

It wouldn’t have been a wildlife park without monkeys, apes and all their relatives.

There are the obligatory monkeys, apes and all their relatives. These guys were pretty cheeky and if the window of the car was down too much, they had no hesitation in climbing inside.

I also enjoyed seeing wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, giraffes, lions, tigers and bears up close. In fact, the one place where your windows were not permitted to be open was in the big cat enclosures. We were also not able to feed these animals. For obvious reasons, the big cats were also kept well away from other, smaller animals. It allowed the other animals to mingle freely as they would in the wild, with no fear of being attacked.

The grounds and surrounds at Taman Safari were immaculate. The animals looked so healthy and happy.

I was fascinated by the Komodo dragons. I found them to be such fearsome looking reptiles and no doubt they are if one believes all the stories written about them.

It was while I was admiring a large Komodo by the name of Beamer that its keeper asked if I would like to pat him. Oh my gosh! I decided to throw caution to the wind and climbed into the enclosure with the carer to pat the beast.

Jenny hides behind the Komodo dragon’s keeper after having giving it a pat. Source: Jennifer Lockhart

I gently touched the skin of the dragon and was amazed at how smooth and soft it felt. I swear Beamer was beaming even more after the petting. Or perhaps he was hungry … I made a hasty retreat from the enclosure after my encounter and thanked my lucky stars I was in one piece. My heart continued to race for quite some time after that moment.

My new-found bravery also saw me dare to hold a large python and again I took note of the soft, velvety skin to had.

A visit to Taman Safari Wildlife Park is a must if you’re travelling in the Jakarta region of Indonesia.

Has there been a wildlife park or zoo experience that has stood out for you? Is there an animal you would like to have an up-close encounter with?

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