We recently visited the Bali elephant sanctuary near Ubud (also known as Mason Elephant Park) and had a great time playing with the Bali elephants!
This is an elephant rescue park opened in 1997, and they do a lot of great conservation work for the Sumatran elephants, which are critically endangered on their home island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
The safari park has lots of activities you can do, including elephant rides, elephant feeding and bathing, a museum, and more. It’s easy to visit on a day trip from Ubud and other areas of Bali.
If you want to stay longer, there’s even a 5 star hotel called Mason Elephant Lodge, where you can spend the night and enjoy the animals from your hotel balcony.
This is not the only elephant sanctuary Bali has to offer, but it’s by far the best experience. The park owners really care about elephants and the animals seem genuinely happy and well cared for. Read on for our full review!
Bali Elephant Sanctuary: What To Expect
Surrounded by hills and jungle, the park has 3.5 hectares of tropical landscape where the elephants are kept in a fenced area, but they have a daily routine where they’re allowed to roam around freely and enjoy a sand pit, shade houses, a bathing lake, and more.
I have to say the Bali elephant sanctuary is really well managed and nicely maintained, with botanical gardens, Koi ponds, and stone carvings made by local Balinese artists, and plenty of viewing areas where you can see the elephants and get up close with them.
They have daily education talks, and elephant shows where you can see the elephants painting and doing other activities. We visited during the covid pandemic so some of these programs were cut, but we still had a great experience, and during normal times I’m sure it’s even better.
It’s possible to visit this park on a day trip from other parts of Bali, and you can do all the highlights in a couple of hours, but if you’re a real elephant lover you could easily stay longer, and there’s a nice lodge at the park for doing that.
I should probably mention that everything in this article is my opinion, and it’s an unpaid review of the park. We weren’t reimbursed in any way for my endorsement.
Bali Elephant Ride
You can do elephant riding at the Bali park, although it costs more than the standard ticket.
This is probably the best elephant ride Bali has to offer, since there’s more space to move around. You get to walk through a bit of jungle environment and also a small lake that’s perfect for the elephants.
It’s good exercise for the elephants, which they need living in a park. I’ll discuss the ethics of it a bit later in this article, because I know some people may be bothered by elephant riding.
Elephant Feeding & Washing
One of the best experiences in the park is feeding and washing the elephants.
You’re allowed to pet and cuddle them, and you can tell they love the attention. It’s a lot of fun.
There’s a small lake for the elephants to swim in, and they were so active and cheeky it was hard to get them to sit still for photos. The park’s newest baby elephant joined in on the bath time too.
You can get your picture taken with the elephants while feeding them or giving them a bath, and the staff are happy to help with this. It’s all included as part of the standard entrance ticket.
Each of the elephants in this park eat 200 kilos of food per day, and normally guests get to feed them palm stems, but if you pay a little extra you can even spoil them with fresh fruit baskets as a special treat.
The entrance to the elephant safari park in Bali has a nice museum with a giant mammoth skeleton (cast replica) and lots of other interesting displays.
It’s more like a mini-museum, but there are a bunch of neat artifacts and the quality of everything is top notch. Displays include Balinese Kris daggers and old carved tusks from other islands in Indonesia.
I would’ve loved to look around here longer, but we had more places to visit after the park. The museum is included free with your entrance ticket.
Special Bali Elephant Photoshoots
If you really want to splurge, you can pay extra to do a special private photoshoot with Lukcip, a male Sumatran elephant with giant tusks.
This was the absolute highlight of our visit to the park, because they let us get up close and personal with the most photogenic and spectacular elephant Bali has ever seen, in the jungle with no chains or safety fences in the way. It was amazing!
It’s apparently popular with rich Instagrammers and celebrities, because the normal price for this photoshoot is a crazy 4.5 million Rupiah ($300 USD) for 30 minutes.
Usually we would have to pass, but during the covid pandemic they gave us a big discount on the price since there were almost no other tourists in Bali.
Lukcip was happy to pose with us, and the whole encounter was a huge thrill. Intan even got to feed him and sit on his back. I’ve never seen a bull elephant with such impressive tusks!
If you want to do a special photoshoot with this elephant, you have to make an advance booking with them via WhatsApp at ☎ +62 811-3979-480 or 811-3960-4959.
The price also includes entry to the whole park for 4 people, but doesn’t include a photographer (bring your own). We did our pics in the morning, and the lighting seemed just right.
Sumatran Elephant Conservation
The elephants at the safari park aren’t native to Bali (Bali doesn’t have elephants), but actually they were rescued from Sumatra, one of the biggest islands in Indonesia.
Sumatran elephants are critically endangered because of illegal deforestation and poaching. Their native habitat in Sumatra is being destroyed by humans and replaced with crops.
Even though the elephants are protected under Indonesian law, the government hasn’t done much to enforce it, and 50% of the world’s Sumatran elephants died between 1985 and 2007.
Sadly, conservationists think that Sumatran elephants may become extinct in the wild in less than 10 years if the poaching isn’t stopped.
This is important to understand, because rescue parks like this one in Bali give the elephants a sanctuary where they can live and reproduce in peace.
The video below gives some more info about the park’s mission and philosophy with the elephants, and why I think they’re the best elephant sanctuary Bali has to offer.
Is The Bali Elephant Sanctuary Ethical?
We never noticed any kind of distress from the animals, and they actually seemed really happy and healthy. You can always tell if elephants are in a good mood by the wagging tail, just like dogs.
If you’re concerned about animal welfare, please ask questions first and try to understand before jumping to conclusions.
The park staff explains several things:
- They don’t use cruelty to break in the elephants. They train them with reward, patience, and repetition.
- The elephants are tethered with a chain while feeding and at night, but they only do this to keep the elephants from fighting each other for food and wrecking the park grounds.
- Elephant rides give them important exercise, which is something they need, since they get less of it in the Bali park than they would in the wild.
- The mahouts have hooks, but they would only be used in an emergency situation if the elephant needed to be kept under control for its own safety.
- Each elephant is assigned a keeper for life, and they have vets to make sure they get medical care and vitamin supplements, etc.
- Elephants love the stimulation they get from interacting with people.
All in all, it’s a life of luxury for these elephants in many ways. It may not be perfect, but nothing is.
The sad fact is that these animals would be dead or suffering if they were left in their natural habitat in Sumatra.
Of course we all wish animals could just live in the wild, but parks and zoos like this are a necessity in order to save endangered species.
The park just birthed its 6th elephant, baby Krishna, and we got to spend some time playing around with him too!
Is The Bali Elephant Ride Ethical?
One of the popular things to do at Mason Elephant Sanctuary Bali is to ride the elephants, but is it ethical?
People’s opinions on this are all over the place, so if you don’t feel okay about riding elephants in Bali then you don’t need to do it. There are lots of other good activities at this elephant sanctuary.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the ACEWG international elephant conservation group believes elephant riding in certain cases is ethical and definitely doesn’t hurt the animal.
ACEWG is an elephant conservation group that includes some of the world’s top elephant specialists, scientists, and conservationists. Here’s what they have to say:
As for elephant riding, the ACEWG notes that while veracious studies have not been conducted on elephants specifically, it is known that horses, dogs, and donkeys have a weight-carrying capacity of about 20-to-25 percent of their body weight. For a 6,600-pound elephant, that’s at least 1,320 pounds.
“If the working hours are limited and the terrain is suitable, two people in a saddle (less than 10 percent of the elephant’s body weight) will not be an undue stressor for an elephant,” the organization reports. “The weight of one or two people without a saddle (less than 4 percent of body weight) would hardly be noticed.”
Source: CN Traveler
Again, even if you don’t want to ride the Bali elephants, there are plenty of other good activities to do here at the sanctuary.
It’s great to see elephants up close and feed them, and for many people that’s probably good enough.
Staying At Mason Elephant Lodge
If you want to stay with the elephants, the park has a 5 star hotel on-site called the Mason Elephant Lodge, which is unique in Bali.
You get to wake up to the sights and sounds of elephants from your balcony, and the rooms have free breakfast, WiFi, A/C, comfy beds, and everything else you would expect from a nice Bali hotel.
Other facilities include a restaurant and bar, gift shop, tour desk, ATM, money changer, fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, sauna, massage/spa, car and bicycle rentals, and more.
Staying at the hotel includes free entrance to the Mason Elephant Park and activities, and for dinner they take you on a free elephant ride (‘chauffeur’) to the restaurant.
Book Now: Mason Elephant Lodge
- Open: Daily (except Nyepi Day)
- Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM
How To Get There
The Mason Elephant Park is located near Ubud in the Taro highlands, in central Bali.
It’s a 30 minute drive from Ubud, or around 1.5 – 2 hours if you’re coming from other tourist areas like Kuta, Sanur, and Canggu.
You can go there by scooter or private car, or there are tour packages that include hotel pickup and dropoff. More on that below.
Best Elephant Tours
If you’d rather book everything as a complete tour package with hotel pickup and dropoff included, here are a few options for that.
- General Admission — Includes all attractions at the Mason Elephant Park, but no washing or elephant riding.
- Jumbo Wash — Hand wash an elephant. Also includes buffet lunch and admission to all attractions at the Bali elephant safari park.
- Bath & Breakfast — Bathe an elephant in the lake. Also includes breakfast and admission to all attractions.
- Elephant Safari Ride — This is the package with the Bali elephant ride, and it also includes buffet lunch and admission to all the other attractions at the elephant safari park.
It’s a good idea to book everything in advance, because the Bali elephant sanctuary can get pretty busy sometimes, especially on weekends or holidays.
More Things To Do Nearby
The elephant park is near Ubud, so there are lots of other great things to do in the area.
It’s a short distance from the excellent Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Tirta Empul Temple, and the Gunung Kawi Ruins, for starters.
Don’t forget to check out my complete list of all the best things to do in Ubud!
More Ubud Hotels
If you’re looking for more Ubud hotel options near the Mason Elephant Park, here are a few of our top recommendations.
All of these hotels are within 30 minutes of driving distance from the Bali elephant sanctuary.
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I am interested in Elephant conservation and helping with medical issues concerning the elephants. Do you know of a way to contact the medical staff at the park?
Hi Nancy, you could try contacting them on their website at https://www.masonelephantlodge.com/contact/. I think they’d be happy to have any help right now. The pandemic restrictions have really hurt them and they started a GoFundMe recently to help feed the elephants. Here is the link for that: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-30-endangered-elephants-in-bali
Hi. I heard about the huge discount to take instagram photos. How much did you pay? Thanks
Hi Donna. We paid 2 million Rupiah for that private photoshoot during covid, but the price is probably higher now. Cheers
I’m going to Bali in July and reeeeeeally wanted to go to a sanctuary, but I was afraid that it may not be ethical. Thank you for writing this article and including the YouTube from Mason Park. It showed that the elephants are happier interacting with people and giving rides, and that by visiting the park, the money visitors spend is vital to caring for these amazing intelligent animals. Your article makes me feel very good about visiting Mason Sanctuary.
Thanks Lori! Glad we could help!