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Home Page > Travelogues > Indonesia > Bali > Uluwatu


Uluwatu -- Visiting the 'Monkey Forest'


Ulu Watu is a small town at the very southwest corner of Bali, atop the high cliffs overlooking the western coast of the Bukit Badung.  The town's primary attraction is the Pura ("temple") Luhur Ulu Watu, perched at the very edge of the high cliffs.  Pura Luhur Ulu Watu overlooking the oceanThe Pura is accompanied by a 'monkey forest', a natural reserve of Indonesian macaque monkeys living in the wild among the Hindu monks living on the ground. 

As with many of the temples on Bali, the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu occupies the most prized patch of turf, in this case the very edge of a cliff jutted well out to the ocean.  The Pura is clearly seen in this photograph -- a Christmas tree-shaped structure at the leftmost point of the cliff.

The view from here is incredible, as you can see.  The cliffs are about 80 meters high, I figured, and the water below is a brilliant blue.  There is a walkway that follows the cliff's edge (yes, there is a wall!) Indonesian Macaquesfrom just short of the Pura to well beyond where I was standing.

The monkeys are an attraction in of themselves.  Macaques are playful, active, and friendly.  Although comfortable around humans, they are not 'domestic', in fact they can be quite dangerous if mistreated.  Further, they move very fast and are prone to stealing loose objects from unwary visitors.  The temple has warning signs posted in six languages outside the entrance that warn visitors to secure all loose items -- eyeglasses, jewelry, etc.  But even still, not all tourists pay heed, and I was sad to witness a lady have an earring taken off her ear by one of these monkeys.

Pura Luhur Ulu WatuThe Pura is shown at right here, and this is the closest to it we were allowed to go.  While some temples allow visitors full access, this one does not (presumably because millions of people would try to crowd the advantageous, but tiny, temple ground to get the perfect sunset shot, risking damage).  

It is required that visitors wear appropriate clothing when entering a temple ground.  'Appropriate' clothing includes sleeved blouses and long skirts for women, and long pants /collared shirts for men.  An option, if you are wearing shorts, is to rent a 'sarong', a cloth that wraps around the abdomen and covers the legs.  Some temples (don't recall whether or not that was the case with Ulu Watu) require a sarong even over long pants, and others will require you to buy the sarong, not rent.  I also re-iterate the need to heed the warnings Garuda Wishnu Kencanaabout the monkeys... remove and secure all loose items such as jewelry or eyeglasses, and hold handbags securely against the body at all times.  The macaques are very quick and sneaky, and you'll never see them coming!

Nearby the temple is a major Balinese convention center that is still under construction.  The convention center will occupy ground next to another temple, that is dominated by the statue at right, called the Garuda Wishnu Kencana.  I'm not standing on temple ground here, hence I can wear shorts and show off my skinny legs.  This ground is where Bali held its great millienium celebration on the 1st of January, 2000, and the place is still recovering.  :-)

Ulu Watu is a short drive from Kuta Bay, and traffic is comparatively light.  There are few amenities, save for a few shops outside the temple gate.  Meanwhile, the convention center is more modern, and will certainly have improved its facilities over the course of the next year.  I highly recommend a half-day visit.  Just watch out for the monkeys!

Trip taken 17 January 2002 -- Page last updated 28 October 2006

Useful Links:
bulletBali Tourism Site -- http://www.bali-online.com 
bulletY! Travel Guide for Bali -- http://travel.yahoo.com/p/travelguide/191501632


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