The Maharajah Jungle Trek
By: April Sanders
January 11, 2018
There is a hidden gem at Animal Kingdom where I love to go and experience tranquility and nature. It is away from the hustle and bustle of the park. It’s a beautiful walking tour of Southeast Asia located in the Royal Forest and is called the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This magnificent trek is located just beyond Kali River Rapids. If you are doing the Wilderness Explorer hunt, this is one of your stops. Also, there’s never any wait, however you may have to wait to get up close to the viewing windows to see the animals. It’s nice and shaded and is a great place to get out of the hot Florida sun.
Make sure to observe the signage, it will show you what you will be seeing. Prepare yourself to see a tiger or two, bats, a Komodo dragon and more. As you enter, be sure to pick up a map (please return at the end of the trail) to help guide you through your journey. Also, much of the backstory is told through the painted art and sculptures. According to lore, the palace was once a hunting retreat that over time was transformed into a protected animal sanctuary.
The first beautiful creature you will spy is a komodo dragon. If you’ve ever wondered what the biggest lizard in the world looks like, here’s your chance. Watch for him in a sunny area, he is typically basking in the sun. Also, there are guides (cast members) along the trail, so don’t be afraid to stop and ask questions. They are great resources to learn more about the animals and to learn about world-wide conservation efforts to help keep the animals safe.
When you go into the bat house look through the screens to spy the bats. They are normally just hanging around, but you may have an opportunity to see them snacking on some watermelons or leafy greens. You may also notice that they are pretty well endowed; that’s a little heads up in case you have observant little ones that like to point these things out, like ours did! The bat house is optional so if you have a fear of bats stay to the path on the right.
As you leave the bat house, you will be entering my favorite place. It is by far the most beautiful part of the whole trail. You will find the ruins of the Maharaja’s Palace, a place that has been taken over by the tigers. You’ll have several viewing opportunities to see the tigers roaming. Also, take note of all the paintings on the walls; there are some beautiful details throughout.
Your trek will end in a beautiful bird sanctuary with nearly 30 species of birds. You are welcome to find a spot to sit and relax. You can enjoy watching the birds interact with each other, eat, and build nests.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek takes about 20 minutes walking at a leisurely pace. The trek closes roughly an hour before sunset so plan accordingly. As you can see it is by far one of my favorite places in Animal Kingdom. It is also one of the most overlooked attractions in Animal Kingdom but it shouldn’t be missed! Make sure to stop and experience the beauty of Southeast Asia!
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