No matter where Mike and I travel to we always try to find a good hike. Hiking is an inexpensive way to get close to nature, exercise and reconnect with each other. Most hikes start with us finding a park and paying any necessary fees. Easy and simple. We do not typically hire guides. We are cheap (at least we know this about ourselves!) and we don’t often hike trails that are dangerous enough or strenuous enough to require one. We are not survival experts, but we are in relatively good shape and, to be honest, are a kind of loners for the most part.
West Bali National Park was a different story. We hired a guide and were very thankful we did. This park was an exception for three good reasons:
First, and probably the most important, the paths were not marked well (or at all). Again, we are not expert hikers, but we can usually find and follow the sings, color markers, etc. But in Bali they were practically non existent. The paths traveled through tall grass, down dried river beds, behind people’s home, through a temple and dense forest. We were not particularly anxious to get lost in a huge forest, so we were very happy to have our guide.
Secondly, the wildlife was either to far to notice on our own, or too close for comfort. Our guide pointed out a group of monkeys high in the trees. It took me a while, but I did see them. I was amazed that he saw them to begin with, but that is what we were paying him for, right? On the flip side, some monkeys got waaaaay to close for my liking. Monkeys in Bali get fed by tourists (which is not okay in my opinion). This makes the monkeys feel entitled and they get to close for my comfort. And if they are not fed? This particular monkey barred his teeth and stared at us. Eek!
Can you spot the four monkeys high in the tree tops?
Lastly, the strange, new-to-us vegetation needed to be explained. There are some seriously interesting plants in Bali. Beautiful flowers, huge trees and bizarre vines are everywhere. Just like pointing out the monkeys high in the tree tops, our guide earned his money by telling us the names, uses, history and folklore behind plants we passed by.
If you know us at all, you know that we do not like to be slowed down or told what to do or when to do it while on vacation. This is the simple reason we usually do not hire guides. However, hiring a guide in Bali allowed us to learn the name of the Crocodile Tree, see monkeys hundred from meters away and traverse paths we would have surely missed otherwise.
It’s not our normal MO, but we’re happy we worked with someone for this hike. And needless to say, we LOVED the hike … and we had a photographer to catch our smiles!