Advanced bookings online is the way to go to avoid local touts and incompetent agencies. Day trips taking in the top sites are common, though you should be wary of local taxi drivers who offer a rather disorganised experience with plenty of time wasted sitting in traffic jams due to poor planning. On a professionally scheduled tour you would typically take in Tanah Lot temple, Ubud and the rice terraces, with the monkey temple thrown in, lunch on the crater side of the caldera, perhaps the water gardens of Tirtagangga and ending with the sunset ritual at Uluwatu temple.
You can opt for a typical sightseeing tour that includes a selection of popular, colourful and lively sites (there is always some sort of ritual or festival happening at a temple somewhere on the island), with the pretty Bali countryside experienced during the drive about (which takes time on the narrow and traffic heavy roads). Alternatively sign up for an activity lead day, visiting handicraft centres, art displays and local communities. Soft adventure is abundant on the island.
Elephant-back rides, a water-park and the Tsavo Lion Restaurant are other key Bali Safari & Marine Park highlights. A recent innovation is the Night Safari. This sees visitors take a trip around an authentic African Savannah to meet the animals. Afterwards, an extravaganza featuring puppet performances, fire-dancing and native drumming is laid on before a barbecue dinner is served.
The Elephant Safari Park Bali is north of Ubud and about 90 minutes by road from Kuta. It is easily manageable as a daytrip. The park belongs to the World Zoo Association and is unmissable for those with a fascination for pachyderms. Feeding, riding and interaction with the elephants is gratifying. The park’s museum is stuffed with elephant exhibits and artefacts. An exclusive for Southeast Asia is a 15,000-year-old mammoth skeleton.
White water rafting Bali is an exhilarating activity that allows thrill-seekers to paddle their way along rivers rushing through verdant landscapes. Rapids along the rivers are between one and 30 metres high and the latter certainly generate that white-knuckle feeling. In Bali three rivers are used for white water rafting. These are the Telaga Waja, the Melangit and the Ayung. The Telaga Waja is in east Bali and the other two in the environs of Ubud.
Bali trekking enables people to get close to nature with odysseys through virgin rainforest and valleys that time has all but forgotten. Along the way, trekkers may spy avian species such as the Javan kingfisher. Popular trek venues include Ubud, Mt Batur and the Batur Caldera, and Mt Agung. Numerous agencies arrange tours for this activity. They are usually fully inclusive and incorporate pick up from hotels in the key tourist zones.
Bali eco cycling tours take cyclists on outings through forests and farming areas in the heartlands of the island. Tour organisers map out the tours so they use mostly downhill roads that see little traffic. This makes the Bali eco cycling tours suitable for children as well as the older members of society. Bali Budaya Tours is one operator that offers cycle tours to the Ubud area.