I’d never met a monkey before.
I’ve been to zoos of course, but as I made my way to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud with my travel buddy Liv, I felt a bit concerned. Most cats and horses hate me and monkeys are way smarter- with sharp little creepy hands.
We left the warung after a breakfast of nasi goreng (fried rice with an egg) and wandered towards the monkey forest. Not a moment later we spotted the first one as we approached the entrance.
He was pretty big and I eyed him warily as we took photos- until I remembered that monkeys see prolonged eye contact as a sign of aggression. Whoops. He didn’t care in the slightest and we headed to the ticket office to hand over 20,000 rupiah for the entrance fee.
Well folks, there were LOADS of monkeys.
In fact, there are over 600 monkeys at the Sacred Monkey Forest. Extremely pleased with the monkey to dollar value ratio, we wandered around the forest temples and water fountains cooing at the little babies bounding around their decidedly less energetic older relatives.
There are lots of people selling bananas for the monkeys because you’re not meant to give them junk food. Not that the monkeys care about that rule at all so you’ve got any snacks on you, keep them hidden. They’ll happily ambush you from a tree for a Snickers.
When we reached the centre of the forest, a completely silent man coaxed one of the monkeys onto my shoulder for pictures. Words can’t really justify how weird I found this so here are some illustrative pictures.
What does a monkey smell like, you ask? Well, that’s a weird question. I wish I didn’t know the answer but since you asked, they smell distinctly monkeyish. Like if dogs could sweat. Musty and fruity. See, I know all this because as I was taking super awesome monkey selfies this happened:
I don’t know what he wanted but I certainly didn’t have it and after rubbing his monkey butt on my head for a bit he ran off. Thanks pal.
Top Tips for Avoiding Drama in the Sacred Monkey Forest
- Stick to the path. The monkeys roam everywhere but there are certain areas where they go to get away from the public. Respect this and stay on the actual pathways!
- Don’t stick your camera right in their little faces and definitely not with the flash on. Obviously.
- Don’t try and touch the monkeys. They might come to you but they won’t appreciate being chased or surprised. Remember, they’re wild animals and if they get agitated, they will bite.
- Leave the babies alone . No one wants an angry Momma Monkey after them.
- Protect your belongings! They’re cheeky and will grab and run away with anything not firmly attached to you.
- Don’t wander around with a snack. That’s just asking for a monkey to jump on you.