Call it nature’s symphony. Most visitors to Bali’s only national park, Taman Nasional Bali Barat (West Bali National Park), are struck by the mellifluous sounds from myriad birds with a nice riff from the various rustling trees.
The park covers 19,000 hectares of the western tip of Bali. An additional 55,000 hectares is protected in the national park extension, as well as almost 7000 hectares of coral reef and coastal waters. Together this represents a significant commitment to conservation on an island as densely populated as Bali.
It’s a place where you can hike through forests, enjoy Bali’s best diving at Pulau Menjangan and explore coastal mangroves.
Although you may imagine dense jungle, most of the natural vegetation in the park is not tropical rainforest, which requires year-round rain, but rather coastal savannah, with deciduous trees that become bare in the dry season. The southern slopes receive more-regular rainfall, and so have more tropical vegetation, while the coastal lowlands have extensive mangroves.
There are more than 200 species of plants growing in the park. Local fauna includes black monkeys, leaf monkeys and macaques (seen in the afternoon along the main road near Sumber Kelompok); rusa, barking, sambar, Java and muncak (mouse deer); and some wild pigs, squirrels, buffalo, iguanas, pythons and green snakes. There were once tigers, but the last confirmed sighting was in 1937 – and that one was shot. The bird life is prolific, with many of Bali’s 300 species found here, including the possibly extinct Bali starling.
Just getting off the road a bit on one of the many trails transports you into the heart of nature. One discordant note: hikes in fuel prices have seen lots of vendors along the road selling firewood snatched from the forest.