I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published October 3rd 2013
Stay & play in 1 location: hotel, zoo (with rides) & museum
Jatim Park 2
The town of Batu, about 100 kilometres south of Surabaya, has long been popular as a relaxing holiday destination for people from Surabaya and beyond, mostly because of its cool mountain weather. In the past few years, it has also started to establish itself as a more exciting and modern family holiday destination as they build more and more theme parks and other family entertainment places.
In 2010, there was a new addition in Batu with the opening of a 3-in-1 family holiday destination with the humble name of Jawa Timur Park 2. For those from overseas, Jawa Timur is simply the name of the province where it's located, and people usually call it Jatim Park 2 for short. It consists of three establishments located within the one location - Batu Secret Zoo, Pohon Inn, and Museum Satwa - each of which will be covered in more details in the next sections.
These businesses are also associated with other destinations in Batu including Eco Green Park (next door) and Jatim Park 1 (an older amusement park about one kilometre away). If you plan to visit more than one of these, do ask for the combined tickets as they are cheaper than buying individual tickets.
Batu Secret Zoo
Batu Secret Zoo is not a secret anymore. It's very popular with families during the holidays and I can see why, as it's not just a zoo, but a zoo-cum-amusement park-cum-water park.
The biggest area of the zoo is understandably devoted to their animal collections, and despite being located in a small town, there are quite a few unique animals that could elicit "ooh" and "aah" from visitors. Among others there are the rare white lions (not albino, we were told, but lions with genuine white colouring due to mutation), the ring-tailed lemurs (who reminded us strongly of Madagascar's King Julian), all the baby animals who must be declared cute even if they are ugly and wrinkly, and various other mammals, birds, reptiles, and aquatic animals.
Clockwise from top left: White lion; Red flamingo; Ring-tailed lemur; Freshwater stingray
More than just admiring the animals though, visitors also have opportunities to interact with some of the animals, such as touching, feeding, and having your photos taken together with them. Unlike some other zoos where you have to pay extra to interact with animals, here there is no further charge. However some of the scheduled appearances may be cancelled during low holiday season.
Clockwise from top left: Albino phyton; Fruit-bats feeding; Hornbill; and Bison feeding
The only animal show on stage is the sea lion. For families used to visiting other zoos with plenty of animal shows, this might be a bit disappointing. Moreover, the sea lions were not very cooperative when I watched their performance. Despite the trainer's effort to make it look like a joke that the sea lions didn't do what they asked and it went on for too long to be funny anymore.
Sea lion show
However, all disappointing thoughts were banished from my kids' mind as soon as they came out of the sea lion show tent, as there are plenty of amusement park rides right outside its exit. Most rides are more suitable for younger kids, what older kids would call "tame" like teacup rides and merry-go-round. There is a smaller percentage of the hair-rising variety, with height limitations enforced. There are some water-based rides too, including a boat ride and a water playground.
Unlimited rides included in your zoo ticket
We spent the rest of the afternoon there, and when closing time approached we had to hurry through the remaining animal enclosures. Luckily we stayed in-situ, so we came back the next day to make up for all the hurrying the day before.
Despite its limitations, I highly recommend the zoo for any families with mainly primary school children. It's a very good value as with the one entry ticket you get to enjoy the animals as well as the rides. It's like the zoo itself is already a 2-in-1 entertainment.
Pohon means tree in bahasa Indonesia, and from the street the hotel building looks like a tree trunk. When I visited, the tree was more of a stump with no branches and leaves, but their website now sports a photo of the hotel with green leaves on top.
The interior of the hotel though has less to do with a tree and more with animals. For a starter, the lobby has a glass cage behind the reception counter with a couple of white tiger cubs in residence.
White tiger cubs
The rooms also have animal decor. Depending on your luck you might get zebra or tiger stripes, giraffe or leopard spots, or a combination of them. Most of the hotel rooms are divided into two categories: Superior and Deluxe. The main difference between the two are the price and which way they face. Superior rooms are cheaper (at time of writing Rp 485.000/approximately AUD 45) and their windows face the street. The Deluxe rooms are more expensive (at time of writing Rp 635.000/approximately AUD 60) and they have balconies that face the back with view of the zoo below. If you stay in one of these rooms, expect to be woken up by animal noises. There are also a small number of Executive rooms (most expensive) and windowless rooms with aquarium instead of windows (cheapest).
Hotel balcony facing the zoo
All room prices are subject to fluctuations depending on the exact time you'd like to stay (weekdays vs weekends, low vs high season). Their website doesn't offer online booking, so you either have to call them up or book through an agent.
Lastly, the animal-themed decor continues to their restaurant, aptly named the Jungle Fastfood. They have a revolving floor in the form of a ring, so only seats on this ring revolve. The purpose of this revolving floor is to view the zoo enclosures, some of which have glass walls facing the restaurant. Very cool.
The green floor is the revolving part
The concept of having a hotel attached to a park is not a new one. Many theme parks around the world have hotels on site to encourage visitors to stay more than one day. In this case, I think it proves to be a sound business strategy. Most of their customers are not local and it's certainly convenient for out-of-towners to stay and play at one location. For me personally though, the main attraction is having a room balcony with the zoo literally right under my feet. It's a unique experience and I don't mind the occasional roars in the dead of the night. But I've heard of people complaining about it. Everyone to their own, I guess.
The three establishments within Jatim Park 2 all have very unique street presence. The hotel in the middle with its tree trunk facade, the zoo is an eye-catching red mesh to its right, and the museum is this mock-Grecian building fronted by a couple of giant elephant statues.
Museum Satwa in bahasa Indonesia simply means Fauna Museum. And literally, what's inside is all related to animal--dead ones, as opposed to the zoo's live ones. When visitors first step into this bower, they will encounter a giant birdcage, which looks very similar (despite in gigantic proportion) to a lot of birdcages owned by the local residents.
Step into the giant birdcage
The second hall just beyond this has a central display of dinosaur skeletons, the atmosphere so enhanced by the dim lighting that my young daughter wanted to skip this part and quickly go on to the next room.
Do you know your dinosaurs?
From here on the displays are mostly in the form of stuffed animals. I have to give them two thumbs up for effort, as most of the stuffed animals are mounted on realistic sceneries, and if you're good with photography you might fool your friends into believing that you have your picture taken with live animals in natural surroundings.
Top left: Most displays are in a frame like this: Right top & bottom: Photos of displays excluding the frames; Bottom left: The popular polar bear are frameless
It really is a taxidermist heaven and gets a bit surreal after a while. Most people just walk pass the displays, hardly stopping to read the information for each frame. Some animals are more popular than others as photo stops, most notably the polar bear (perhaps because it's not in a frame, so you don't have to worry about your camera's flash light reflecting off the glass).
My verdict for this venue is that it's not as good as the zoo in terms of entertainment value. One day was hardly enough to visit the zoo whereas I think the museum could be completed in half a day. However if you have the time, why not visit both. The combined ticket for zoo and museum at time of writing is IDR 65.000 (approximately AUD 6) Monday to Thursday or IDR 90.000 (approx AUD 8.5) Friday to Sunday.