Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's All in the Details: Maharaja Jungle Treck

For those of you that didn't know or haven't noticed, Animal Kingdom is divided into several different lands, two of which, contain their own exploration trails. Since it was the first day of my weekend, I decided to take the day to venture into Animal Kingdom as a Guest and journey into the exploration trail located in Asia, also known as Maharaja Jungle Trek.

You begin your adventures from the mystical Anandapur Royal forest of Southeast Asia. According to, Anandapur means "place of delight," and that it is. The exotic architecture and depth of the place beckon you forward, and you find yourself wandering towards the Maharaja Jungle Trek, unable to turn back without the comfort of knowing what lies ahead.
Part of the magic of the jungle trek is created through the magnificent storyline. Yes, there are several reptiles, mammals, and birds to see; but, in true Disney fashion, Guests are swept away in awe through the attention to detail. At the entrance to the pathway, you discover a sign that reads...

"Since very ancient times, the rajahs of Anandapur have hunted tigers in this forest. In AD 1544, King Bhima Disampati decreed the forest a royal preserve, closed to all save his guests, and built a royal hunting lodge whose ruins lie nearby. After 1948, the royal forest was given to the people of Anandapur. Today, the forest protects not only the remaining tigers and other wildlife, but is a valuable watershed of the Chakranadi River and some of the last remaining virgin forest in this region."

 the guide map available upon entering the trek

As you walk along the path, you discover that Anandapur has been under the rule of four different rajahs, each with their own contributions to the history of Anandapur.
The first encounter you have with wildlife comes in the form of a Komodo Dragon, the worlds heaviest lizard. There are generally Cast Members on hand to answer any questions you might have about these animals. I find Komodo Dragons fascinating. They're endangered and really interesting predators. They have shark-like teeth (pointed backwards towards their throats) and lie in wait to spring upon their prey. If a creature labeled as a meal would manage to escape, they still probably wouldn't have much chance of surviving longer than 24 hours, as the Komodo Dragon's saliva contains over 50 strains of bacteria. After all that excitement, who needs to see more?! (If you'd like to read more, check out Komodo Dragons- National Geographic)
Apparently, there's also a Malayan Tapir... but he must have taken the day off or been creatively hiding behind the bushes, because I didn't see him. They're really cool though, so I'll be looking next time.

Your journey continues with the constant reminder of what lay ahead...
 ... but before that happens, you enter the Bat Cliffs, where you can observe Rodrigues Fruit and Malayan Flying Fox bats. These herbivores/insectivores may be the cause of some peoples phobias, but they're really quite harmless and quite helpful, as the signs in the area illustrate.
"Villagers: Get to Know the Bats that Live in Our Forest
Bats are Important to the Life of the Forest
These bats pollinate plants. They disperse seeds throughout the forest.
Bats get pollen on them when eating the nectar of flowers. The pollens rub off as they fly to other flowers, which pollinates the plants. They eat the juice of the fruit, and disperse the seeds as they fly."
"Hunters of Anandapur-
We rely on bats for the life of our crops. Fruit-eating bats pollinate plants and drop seeds as they fly, helping new plants grow. Bats help us grow food for everyone!"
"Insect eating bats eat many insects-up to 600 an hour during the night.
They make our village more pleasant.
They reduce the number of crop-damaging insects in a natural way.
Here's what you can do to embrace these bats as part of our village:
Build a Bat House-
-at least 10 feet above ground
-a delightful pond will help attract bats
Build a bat house; preserve the forest.
Do not use insecticide. Let bats eat the bugs"
nap time

If you're still not convinced, you do have the option to walk around the Bat Cliffs, but you've gotta give it to them, they are handy.

Also in in the Bat Cliffs, you can see several other creatures, such as...
refuge from the Florida heat 
"Blood Python
Python curtus
Range: Malaysia and Indonesia
This snake's blood red color is the perfect camouflage for hiding among leaf litter while waiting for a nice fat rodent for dinner. This one was found guarding the village grainery from hungry rats. Tell everyone in the village to leave snakes in peace to carry on their important job of eating rodents."
just keep swimming
"Annam Leaf Turtle
Annamemys annamensis
Range: Small area of central Vietnam
Look closely! Annam leaf turtles are very good at hiding themselves in thick vegetation. We found these two in a pond near the village. To our surprise, we had made an important scientific discovery since leaf turtles are highly endangered and very few have been seen in recent times."

There was also a giant centipede (that I couldn't find for some strange reason). But after all that excitement, you exit the Bat Cliffs and head directly up the pathway to see the famed tigers. 

With no shortage of theming, there's also another sign...

The artwork in this area is absolutely beautiful, and it tells most of the story within the trail. It starts with the tiger. For centuries the rajahs had hunted the tigers, and in 1544, King Bhima Disampati created the royal preserve and hunting lodge to make hunting the tigers effectively less challenging. Eventually, he met his end in a hunting accident. The maharajas that succeeded him (catching on to the maharaja name?) saw the obvious flaws in his ways and strived to transform the royal preserve into a place where the animals and people could live together.

the tigers in happier times
 the hunting begins...

King Bhima Disampati
the maharajah who brought peace with nature
 the maharaja who brought peace with the people
the maharajah who brought peace with the animals
finding a balance

There's also a really interesting progression of the story told through artwork in the stone along the pathway.

it starts off with the animals living harmoniously together, with utmost biodiversity
 then humans are introduced and begin destroying the habitat
 chaos ensues and both the humans and animals are in peril
at the end, they find a way to live together, but the environment doesn't appear to be able to completely recuperate- the damage has been done and it will never be the same as it was originally. 

It is definitely an interesting and intriguing progression. 

Along the pathway, you'll also run into several other Disney enhancements. 
"Please- No Climbing
This ancient coral tree is a place of veneration. Scarves and garlands are hung as offerings. Bells are representing prayers that have been answered.
Thank You- The Village of Anandapur"

The attention to detail is really quite amazing.

According to one of my leaders, this spot is supposed to be representative of many of the wells in Asia.  It's simply a bubbler (or water fountain, depending on where you're from), but, of course, it had to fit in with the story line. During the dry season, many of the wells in Asia subside to a drip. Because of this, the families that share a well have a system of sharing water jugs. One family places their jug at the well and leaves it there to fill. When one of the families needs water, they simply retrieve the waiting, full jug, and replace it with one of their own. 

You also encounter several other animals...
 Elds Deer
Your last visit on the trail brings you to the bird sanctuary, where I had the pleasure of watching a Victorian Crowned Pigeon build some of her nest.

hopping down from her roost in search of the perfect building materials
 found it!
 got it, now here we go...
 hmm... it fits right... here!
phew! exhausting!

It was really neat to see. Her mate, I discovered, was otherwise occupied across the sanctuary...

The sanctuary also offers a bird guide and usually has a Cast Member wandering about to answer questions. Here's a few of the unique creatures I saw today...

After the aviary, you once again find yourself in the village of Anandapur, amongst the hustle and bustle of the general population. The Maharajah Jungle Trek is not to be missed and a hidden gem of Animal Kingdom. You never know what new secret or story you'll discover. Start your own adventure, even if it's just in your own backyard! In the welcoming words of the park, "Have a wild time!"

Dinosaur Answers (for those that are curious from the last blog):
Clockwise- Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Edmontosaurus, Camarasaurus


  1. Love the update.have you been to any good restaurants? Do you like your roommates?

  2. Thanks! Yes, I've been to many great Disney restaurants, and my roommates and I have been getting along great!

  3. Will you give some reviews or insights into resturants and shops?

  4. I'll post reviews of restaurants as I go to them during my PI, but honestly, I really haven't had the time lately or been willing to spend the money. If you have any questions about some of the restaurants though or would like some recommendations, I'd be happy to share! Just let me know what you're interested in. I've been traveling to Disney since I was young, so I've been to a lot of restaurants and know the shops pretty well. :0)