Written by Beverley Lennon

As a kid, I’ve always been an animal lover so an African Safari was certainly on the top of my bucket list; and coming from the African continent myself, we’ve always been told that South Africa is the perfect place to come face-to-face with the Big Five, explore wildlife and get close to lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and buffalos.

Luckily, my parents are great adventurers too and we had the chance to go on an ultimate African safari adventure. Well, that was when I was 10 years old. However, now I am in my 20s and was absolutely dying to go on another safari escape but that would mean sponsoring it myself (don’t grow up kids, it’s a trap!).

And honestly, I do not know why I waited so long for it, but I am happy I made this dream come true without having to leave Asia! Believe it or not, there’s a safari in East Java, Indonesia (easily accessible from Surabaya), where you can come close to impressive African creatures! Not to mention that, similar to an African adventure, you get to spend the night right in a safari resort too!

But what’s more, and I must say it was the highlight of the trip – you get to share your breakfast table with giraffes! And another bonus point (according to my Asian friends) is that the safari is in the chilly highlands rather than the scorching heat of the African continent!

So if you too have been dreaming of a safari adventure, why wait any longer? There’s a bunch of activities to experience at Baobab Safari Resort and Taman Safari Prigen! Now, why save for Africa when Simba, Timon and Pumba are in Indonesia?

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This itinerary will take you to a part of Indonesia that very much feels more like a visit to Africa. You’ll wake up to the sight of zebras, giraffes and other wild animals from your room balcony.

Breakfast isn’t a casual affair too (surprise, surprise!), and lunchtime will get you roaring (with ferocious carnivores)! You’ll get to drive through the safari, with different species coming to your window, on the lookout for snacks. To say the least, very few experiences compare to the ones we had at Baobab Safari Resort and Taman Safari Prigen, so we hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Getting to Surabaya

From JakartaFrom Singapore (tap here to view)From Malaysia (tap here to view)

1. Flights
Direct Flight (From Rp.1,004,000 per pax for return flights)
Book a flight to Juanda International Airport (Surabaya) via Sriwijaya Air, Citilink Indonesia, Lion Air, AirAsia, Batik Air or Garuda Indonesia (Flight time: ~1h 30 min)

2. Train
a. Executive: starts at Rp. 405,000
– Depart from Gambir Station (Central Jakarta), and arrive at Surabaya Gubeng Station Surabaya. (Train ride duration: ~ 12 hours 30 minutes)
b. Economy: starts at Rp. 104,000 (Seats are cramped and not recommended.)
– Depart from Pasar Senen Station, and arrive at Surabaya Gubeng Station. (Train ride duration: ~ 15 hours)

Direct Flight (From S$187 per pax for return flights)
Book a flight to Juanda International Airport (Surabaya) via Jetstar, or Scoot (Flight time: ~2h 20 min)

Direct Flight (From MYR505 per pax for return flights)
Book a flight to Juanda International Airport (Surabaya) via Airasia, Malaysia Airlines or Lion Air (Flight time: ~2h 50 min)


Day 1

Stay at a magical animal kingdom in the chilly highlands!

From the hustle and bustle of Surabaya, embark on a journey that takes you to the chilly highlands of Prigen and experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay among wild animals! Upon check-in, it will not be long before you spot some long-necked or striped creatures.

Enjoy views of the landscape from your room balcony or get up close to the animals at feeding times! At night, sign up for a night safari walk and spot some unique nocturnal species!

Check-into a magical animal kingdom!

At Baobab Safari Resort, you’re in a prime location to spot African wildlife! The resort lobby itself expands to the outdoor area where you’ll find the pool and the animal park – it is quite a spectacle; our eyes were glistening like real kids as we walked through what would be our ultimate “African Safari Lodge”.

While there are various room categories (all of them with unique safari feels) at the resort, you sure want to opt for their Premium Safari room to wake up overlooking the most exciting members of the animal kingdom! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing animals roaming around freely as compared to what I have seen before in many countries in Asia (where the poor creatures are caged).

Get your binoculars ready for an animal experience of a lifetime – from petting elongated beauties at your breakfast table to lounging poolside with striped species, feeding Simba’s best friends and more!

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Baobab Safari Resort

Rates: From Rp. 900,000 for Deluxe Twin Hill View (Approximately USD $63)
Address: Desa Jatiarjo RT.12/RW.06 Prigen, Pasuruan, Jawa Timur 67157
Contact: +62 343 6743888

Check Rate on Agoda

*Note: Free private parking is available.

Lounge poolside with zebras!

Panoramic ocean views, endless lush jungle vistas are nice and all but when can you get to dip in a pool overlooking a park with wild animals roaming freely? That’s one special and impressive hotel feature I must say!

The pool here is an excellent playground to enjoy the view of safari herbivores grazing in the park. We absolutely loved spotting zebras, giraffes and ostriches. But these aren’t all – head there to find out 😉!

Needless to say, kids will be at their utmost paradise at this ideal base as they get both water and animal fun!

Meet and feed Timon and his meerkat friends!

Now you can meet the real Timon from The Lion King. What is life, my friends?

This has to be the cutest gang we’ve seen out of all members of the animal kingdom! They’ve got their own dedicated “cave” to hang out at and could peek out of their home once in a while to see what’s going on in the neighbourhood; you know, just for the fun of it!

We were comfortably sitting in the lobby when I saw little heads peeking out of a gigantic rock (which I thought was merely a decoration), and it turned out to be a whole extended meerkat family residing in there! These adorable creatures are extremely fast and cheeky and they might well only come at you to find food! They have a chill life and enjoy sunbathing too!

*Note: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting scratched as they love to dig. Digging is an innate instinctive action they use to create burrows, get food or create dust clouds to distract predators.

Photo Via Jejes3008, TripCanvas

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Meerkat Feeding

Price: Rp. 100,000 for 2 persons (Approximately USD $7.08)
Time: Daily at 8.30am, 10.30am and 4.30pm

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Dine with a view of the African savanna at Kilimanjaro Restaurant

Although we wished we could have shared a table with the fellow animal tribe at dinnertime, the feast at Kilimanjaro Restaurant did not disappoint either. Since we were here during the Ramadan season, we were lucky to join and celebrate around an extensive buffet.

There was a large selection of local delicacies but I have to say that my favourites were the desserts – they were so tasty and colourful, and turned our table into a stunning rainbow! They also had an array of sambal selections which were as delicious as spicy!

On usual nights, the restaurant operates on an a-la-carte menu with Asian and Western dishes on offer. We’ve also heard that they occasionally have live bands at the restaurant and you can also book a romantic dinner by the pool.

What I like about the restaurant is that it isn’t confined to four walls – it’s a semi-open area overlooking the pool and animal park from afar. Personally, I found it quite kid-friendly too as they are free to run around.

Though nothing special and outstanding about the venue, I think it fits the purpose of dining in rather than having to go out to look for a restaurant. Mind you, there aren’t many comfortable options in the surroundings other than some basic local warungs.

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Kilimanjaro Restaurant

Price range: Rp. 60,000-90,000 (Approximately USD $4.20-6.30)
Contact: +62 343 674 3888

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Go on an exotic night safari walk (with snakes and spiders)!

If you’ve been to the Night Safari in Singapore before, you sure must have hated the long queue but rest assured, the night safari walk at Baobab Safari Resort is much more intimate than the ones at popular attractions.

And we know you might be thinking it will be too dark to see anything, but you’re absolutely wrong as the animals will be visible with the help of torchlights (just don’t flash right into their eyes!).

What’s different at nighttime is that you’ll get to see all kinds of nocturnal animals coming out to hunt for their food – snakes, spiders, bats are only a few of them. So no, it won’t be the same old animals that you’ve seen during the day! Plus, I personally think that walking in the dark knowing you’re surrounded by animals is quite an adrenaline-inducing experience! Isn’t it?!

Alternatively, if you’re bringing the little ones along, you can join the storytelling time. It is pretty interactive but the only inconvenience is that it is only conducted in Bahasa Indonesia. Nevertheless, kids will enjoy joining in as the staff entertains them.

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Night Walk
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Day 2

Drive through an ultimate safari adventure with animals coming up to your car!

Today is the day you get to fulfil one of your wildest childhood dreams – besides going on a very special breakfast date, you’ll also embark on an ultimate thrilling safari adventure in the comfort of your car! I personally really enjoyed the interactive experience as we drove through various parts of the safari park with free-roaming animals coming up to our window for their treats.

The park is enormous, with an aquatic area, a baby zoo and several shows taking place throughout the day.  Ready for an unforgettable experience in beautiful natural settings? Hop on board now!

Go on a breakfast date with the giraffes!

Besides waking up with close views of the surrounding wildlife, this morning, you’re welcome to share your breakfast table with Zahara, Zahari and Kamil – the three celebrity giraffes at Baobab Safari Resort!

It’s an experience like no other as the three long-necked creatures gently make way to your table, scoping out your breakfast and hoping for a snack. You will be provided with leaves and vegetables to feed them.

They got really greedy when we were there and were close enough to pet, I nearly got their whole tongue in my face! I’ve always wanted to head to the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya so this morning with the giraffes was a tad special and in fact a dream come true, as we got up close and personal with these impressive animals.

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Breakfast with giraffes

Price: From Rp. 300,000 for 2 pax (Approximately USD $21)

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*Note: Breakfast with giraffes is available with prior booking from 7am-7.30am*

Hop onboard an ultimate Lion King safari adventure at Taman Safari Prigen!

What better way to explore a safari than by driving through the animal kingdom yourself? Giving it a thought – I believe this is what made our trip there quite a remarkable experience. You’re in the comfort of your car with only your friends and family, so it makes it very intimate and enjoyable.

The safari is divided into different zones, where you can find animals from different continents. You’ll have zebras by your window when in the African zone, and you can feed the enormous bison in the American/European zone, and admire the elephants in Asia.

They also have a “carnivore” zone featuring animals that could gobble you up in a few seconds (for this zone, you’ll be required to close all windows and doors).

I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through as we also bought a few carrots to feed the animals along the way. It’s an ultimate throwback to childhood and I truly believe that the experience is fun for any age! Mind you, the animals are extremely greedy and aren’t scared to get close and eat off from your hands. And apparently, if you dress in orange, they’ll mistake you for a carrot (the staff told us it happened to a guest previously)! 😉

I was also very surprised to see how well maintained the park was; the animals seemed to be well taken care of too, and since we visited during the Ramadan season, it wasn’t crowded so this made the experience even better!

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Safari adventure at Taman Safari Prigen

Entrance fee: From Rp. 160,000 (Approximately USD $11) *Inclusive of Safari Adventure, Baby Zoo, Aquatic Land, 4 Animal Show, Dolphin Show, Temple of Terror*
Address: Desa Jatiarjo RT.12/RW.06, Prigen, Pasuruan, Jawa Timur 67157, Indonesia
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 8.30am-5pm
Contact: +62 343 6743 000


Roar with tigers at lunchtime at the Tiger Cave Restaurant!

Sighting a tiger in a jungle is a dream for many, so when we heard we could have lunch with tigers surrounding us, I have to say that we were pretty excited! Relax, it isn’t much of a frightening experience but rather an impressive one. We were lucky enough to secure the best table that gave us unobstructed views of the tigers roaming around and roaring for food.

I was thrilled to get such up-close views of the carnivores; would we be their lunch? I hoped not. As we ordered some of the chef’s recommendations, the moment we’ve all been waiting for began — it was lunch time for the tigers too!

While none of us were food for the carnivores, we were, however, welcome to feed the tigers. It is an unusual experience to sign up for as we watched the tigers jumping in and out of their pond to catch their whole chickens!

Mind you, I was quite anxious when they got too close to the window, ferociously staring and probably thinking that we looked like an appetizing dessert! Besides, the food at the restaurant was delectable and beautifully plated! There’s plenty of options, ranging from Asian to Western dishes too.

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Tiger Cave Restaurant

Price range: Rp. 40,000-90,000 (Approximately USD $2.80-6.30)

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Watch man’s best friends do their show at The Adventures of Jack & Kelsey

We did not have high expectations when sitting down for the dog show at Taman Safari Prigen but I have to say that I was very much impressed; kudos to their team and furry friends for such a memorable show!

Though the storyline behind the show constantly changes, I was happy to see that it was an educational presentation. Rather than being a mere entertainment show, there was a deeper meaning and it was intended to educate kids about conservation and how it is important to fight for nature (fauna and flora).

We watched happily as orangutans, birds, cats and dogs did their show in all harmony; it was very well coordinated so I cannot imagine the amount of hard work putting this together. You’ll have pure moments of laughter and admiration for what those animals can do!

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The Adventures of Jack & Kelsey

Showtimes: 12pm and 2pm

Make friends with the penguins at Aquatic Land!

By now, you should know that Taman Safari Prigen is much more than just a safari. The compound also features an Aquatic Land with several different aquatic animals. Needless to say, the star of the show here sure is the penguin family!

The last time I got close to penguins was back in South Africa and I remember that as a kid, it was quite an exciting experience to merely just see them hopping from one rock to another, so being able to get up close to these cute creatures and what’s more, feed them, well I have to say that I might have ticked off yet another item from my bucket list!

Besides having to feed the penguins with bare hands (also means holding fish!), it’s one fun activity to take part in while at the safari. And hear me when I say that the penguins will do anything to get to their food — that also means stepping on you and even sliding into the pool. Let’s just assume that they’re quite impatient in nature, to say the least.

Throughout the activity, you’ll be also accompanied by an on-site staff who will guide you for safety reasons.

Take a trip to Australiana with kangaroos, wombats and more!

It’s almost a round-the-world trip at Taman Safari Prigen – a few hours ago, you were in Africa and now you’ve landed right in Australia! Explore Australiana – a dedicated area within the park with animals coming straight from the Oceania continent. In here, you’ll be able to pet kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, koalas, sheep, horses and more!

Photo Via Gloriannariadhy, Ratihardiansa

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🏠 Back in Surabaya? Why not opt for a beautiful apartment with stunning city views? We stayed at Ciputra World and loved it!
Book yours here

Best time to travel

We recommend that you visit during the months of May-October which is known as the dry season. We visited during the month of June and it was Ramadan season so we thoroughly enjoyed the attractions since they were not packed with people.

However, if you’re planning to visit during Ramadan (fasting) season, make sure to call the respective attractions and restaurants prior to your visit as opening hours might differ. Some attractions might also be under renovation or maintenance as Ramadan is considered to be a low season.

Getting around

1. Rent a car with driver

From Surabaya, you’ll be required to go up chilly highlands with narrow roads so we highly recommend you to rent a car with driver, especially if you are not familiar with driving around Indonesia. You can trust Zena Travelindo for a worry-free holiday with the family!

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Rates: From Rp. 400,000 per day with driver, excluding gas and parking fee (Approximately USD $28).
Address: Jl. Mayjend Sungkono IV No 121 Kedungkandang, Kota Malang
Contact: +62 813 534 70333

Note: Although the rates include the driver’s living expenses during the trip, we still encourage you to tip them daily for meals or accommodation (may vary from Rp. 50,000 – 100,000 per day)

2. Rent a car without driver

If you are confident enough with your driving skills and prefer to opt for a self-drive car option like what we did, you can go for Yes Rent Car for its affordable and trustworthy car rental services.

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Rates: From Rp. 375,000 per day without driver (Approximately USD $26)
Address: Jl. Rungkut Mejoyo Utara 8, Surabaya
Contact: +62 318 499 798;  +62 813 3118 8811; +62 831 7777 0660

Travel Budget- Estimated Cost Breakdown

Do note that the breakdown below is based on estimated costs. Actual costs may vary slightly.

Flight cost:
Travelling from Singapore: SGD $187/ USD $137 per pax (USD $548 for 4 pax)
Travelling from Malaysia: MYR 505 / USD $122 per pax (USD $488 for 4 pax)

Activities (4 pax): Approximately USD $52 (calculated based on activities listed, not inclusive of shopping)

Car rental (4 pax): Approximately USD $56 (for private car with driver for 2 days)

Total cost for food (4 pax): Approximately USD $60

Total cost for hotel (4 pax): Approximately USD $126

Estimated Total for 4 pax from Singapore (Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): ~ USD $842 (~USD $210/ SGD $285 per pax)

Estimated Total for 4 pax from Malaysia (Flight+Activities+Transport+Food+Hotel): USD $ 782 (~USD $195/ RM 810 per pax)

Why I’ll jump right back in this jungle book?!

Now I feel like Asia is even closer to home – Africa! The safari adventure sits just 1.5 hours from Surabaya (which has a direct flight from KL) so I know I can always book a trip and travel down there whenever I feel homesick!

There’s nothing quite like connecting with nature and getting up close to animals you rarely see roaming around freely. Best yet, when do we ever get the chance to share a table at breakfast with majestic long-necked creatures? It’s a magical adventure to step into an animal kingdom in the chilly highlands – one that is bound to make your eyes glow. Now you don’t even have to travel far away to Africa to experience the whole Lion King shebang. Who knows, my next trip there might be when I have little ones to bring along!

PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you!
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