Ubud and its Sacred Monkey Forest ~ Bali

Not everyone will resonate with our monkey coverage.  To some, it’s like Ben’s attitude vis a vis baseball… shrug, yup, monkeys.  But to us, monkeys are not just a side attraction.  They are a core value proposition for this Southeast Asian city.

The Sacred Monkey Forest includes three important Hindu temples, dating from the year 1350, and both the forest and the temples are  important components in the spiritual and economic life in the local community.  Monkeys and the mythology around them are also recurring themes in the Balinese art tradition.

The population of Macaques live in a somewhat enclosed forest where their diet is supplemented by daily feeding times from the staff.

The monkey sanctuary is also a place for research and conservation programs.


How cute is this little guy? So much fun to see monkeys in their natural habitat not cages ~ happy, free, fed. Note the cute “hairdo.”


These might look like “old men” but in fact are females, momma monkeys to the little babies nestled against them.




See no evil. One of the temples in the Sacred Monkey Forest.


Seems pretty natural to have a monkey on my shoulder. What is amazing is that the monkeys are free yet “humanized” due to being fed by the staff and bananas that visitors can buy to feed them (although I would advise against feeding them anything, just creates potential problems.)


Scary statues which “guard” the entrance to one of the temples and ward off evil spirits.



We cannot get enough of watching these fascinating animals. So very human like.

The macaque population is fairly stable, at around 700.  There are currently about 50 babies (younger than 4 months) ~ these are the guys sporting the super cool “haircuts”.

It is interesting to talk with foreigners about their experience ~ some are “freaked out” about the monkeys, fearing a bite ~ monkeys do bite tourists daily, (not surprisingly, given the taunting and inappropriateness of some tourists toward the forest’s inhabitants).  Our take ~ if we are gentle and respectful of them and their territory, they will return the courtesy and there is nothing to fret about.


Now this guy is pretty comfortable in his own personal sarong hammock created by Ben’s lap.



Pretty cute!

Lest we paint an idealized and idyllic picture of Ubud, we also need to address some of the less attractive features of living here.

if one spends a dominant amount of time  within the pocket of the center of this vibrant town, one experiences an Ubud that is characterized by way too many tourists and a lot of traffic. Way more than just two years ago! (More traffic, more construction, way more Chinese visitors than before… ) It is a little overwhelming to be in one of those congested streets in the afternoon, and easily leads to thoughts such as “What has happened to Ubud?”. Growth is inescapable, and the solution is to find the pockets of serenity and calm that endure.

Our answer to the congestion problem is to hop on our rented scooter and go in the surrounding countryside, and to base ourselves in Nyuh Kunning, technically just outside of Ubud, which means our short cut into Ubud takes us on the periphery path of the Sacred Monkey Forest. So every day, on our way to Yoga, we say hello to our monkey friends.



Exploring alongside rice fields by motorbike. Small path ways always accompanied by the ubiquitous water system which irrigates the fields and has been in place for centuries.


Where there is water, there are ducks Lots of them marching along.


A small sign in the middle of a rice field we pass while exploring on our motorbike says: “river this way” with a hand painted arrow to the left.  After climbing down a steep and rocky cliff side, we are rewarded with a swim in cool fresh mountain river water.


Offerings are put in shrines in the rice fields for sun, for rain and a productive field which will yield good crops.

Our second accommodation is a home stay with a local family who like many here, live in a family compound which houses extended family in individual small cottages, has its own temple and sometimes as in this case, rents out a few extra rooms.


Ganesha is omnipresent ` God of knowledge, wisdom, prosperity, and obstacle removal.


Speaking of animals, At our home-stay there is a rather sad and neglected dog covered in ticks and fleas. Ben goes about removing the ticks and we buy some flea shampoo and she gets her FIRST bath, ever! Our host family thought we were a little bonkers.


View from the window of our third home, an Air B&B. Early morning workers in the rice fields before the heat. The field is currently being planted with tiny new rice seedlings.


10 thoughts on “Ubud and its Sacred Monkey Forest ~ Bali

  1. Janice

    Love all the photos! Feel the wonders of this magnificent environment. Love the photo in Bali in the purple flowers with your purple shawl. The food sounds so yummy…hmmm! You are both truly blessed to have these wonderful opportunities to really ” live”!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Janice so glad you enjoyed the photos and that you are following our blog.thanks for your comments!

      We both prioritise travel as it is such a huge passion for us and the more we travel the more we come to realize that the responsibility is ours to sculpt the kind of life we want to have! It’s a simple trade off: possessions versus experience.

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Caroline isn’t it amazing how much fun it is to watch the monkeys…so free, so happy. i love how the monkeys “spill over” onto the streets and fences nearby the forest. They are so central and omnipresent. Monkey heaven!

  2. anotherday2paradise

    Beautiful Bali. I was overawed by the greenness of the rice paddies when we were there a few years ago. Ah, Monkeys……reminds me of our home in Durban South Africa. They were everywhere. We couldn’t leave any windows or doors open. 🙂

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Yes we know exactly what you mean. The intensity of green everywhere has such a calming mesmerizing effect.

      I grew up on a hillside in Johannesburg, South Africa but sadly no monkeys there!

      Welcome to Green Global Trek!

  3. yokomeshii

    Enjoyed reading the post because I think monkeys are awesome (and its the year of the monkey in the lunar calendar! 🙂 ) – but I loved how you gave the stray dog a bath even more! <3 Safe travels!

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      Ah yes, the year of the monkey! Of course! Thanks for reminding us. Why didn’t WE think of that?

      We have a long history of caring for stray dogs. When we lived in Nicaragua there was a steady stream of dogs coming to our door for food and affection. So gratifying!

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