1980 – Australian Nigel Mason first arrives in Bali.
1981 – Nigel starts work on a hotel design and development in Lombok (which is later cancelled).
1983 – Nigel meets and later marries Made Karyani (Yanie) from Legian, Bali.
1984 – Nigel and Yanie start ‘Yanie’s Restaurant’ in Legian with borrowed money.
1987 – Nigel and Yanie open the Original Bali Doll Factory in Denpasar.
1989 – Nigel and his Balinese Wife Yanie set up Bali’s first and foremost white water rafting company, named Bali Adventure Rafting.
1992 – Other adventure activities are added to the tour portfolio, beginning with Mountain Cycling, followed by Jungle, Rice Paddy and Village Trekking. By this time, the company’s identity expands to encompass the new products, becoming known as, Bali Adventure Tours (BAT).
1994 – BAT launches Bali Day Tours Transport as a strategy to make tour operations more self-contained and efficient. Today, BAT is able to transport its own customers in company owned and operated, air-conditioned vehicles all equipped with radio and GPS control. Yanie takes the retail aspects of operations a step further in 1995, opening The ‘House of Yanie’ Gift Shop, located in Kuta Square.
1995 – BAT operations consolidated under one roof with the opening of Adventure House on the Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai at Pesanggaran (between Kuta and Sanur). This multi-million dollar, four-story structure becomes known as The ‘BAT Cave’ as it houses state-of-the-art communications, dispatch, reservations center, operations headquarters, repair and maintenance workshops and a Helipad later built at the rear.
1996 – BAT starts Mason Elephant Park in historic Taro village, adding a completely new dimension to the organization. The park opens with 9 Sumatran Elephants, a sub-species of the Asian Elephant. These gentle pachyderms are rescued from Sumatra, their last natural stronghold in Indonesia to be relocated in the tranquil Balinese countryside.
1997 – 8 more Sumatran Elephants are rescued from Sumatra and the arduous task of bringing them to Bali, without causing undue stress to these beautiful animals begins. The journey involved 6 days of non-stop traveling, with a 10 vehicle convoy, the journey involved 1000’s of kilometers by road, plus 2 sea crossings, Including 1 vehicle who’s sole purpose is to procure fresh food and water every day along the way. Among the 8 Elephants was 2½-year-old Ramona who in later years turns out to be a very accomplished painter, with some of her artwork sold by Christies in New York.
2000 – Constant improvements are made this year to Mason Elephant Park, both for visitors and resident pachyderms. The latest advancements include complete water treatment and waste disposal systems and a large 250 seat Restaurant, a park Gift shop, and Museum.
2001 – BAT introduced Helicopter Sky Tours – the first of their kind in Bali complete with their own Helipads linking their numerous operations together. The purchase of a state-of-the-art American built Robinson R44 Helicopter brings flight prices to an affordable level for tourists.
2002 – Unfortunately the Helicopter tours are suspended after the Bali Bomb to be re-instated later, when the top end of the tourism market fully recovers. This doesn’t happen for another 12 years.
The 2002 Bali Bombing
The bomb has a disastrous effect on Bali Adventure Tours activities with up to a 98% loss in company visitors doing tours directly after the tragedy. The next 2 years will prove to be a test of sacrifice, hard work, and great determination on the behalf of all staff and management to survive this catastrophe.
2003 – This was an extremely difficult year with major outgoing in expenses and very little incoming revenue. Recovery started towards the latter part of the year.
2004 – August: Bali Adventure Tours upgrades their fleet of vehicles with the purchase of ten new 11-seater buses and four new 6-seater buses so as to maintain the high standards of safety and comfort for our guests.
2004 – September: Work commences on the spacious new breeding area for the Elephants, and at the same time updating and modernizing the infrastructure of the Elephant food area, waste & rubbish removal, plus the implementing of a brand new Elephant Manure Processing Plant in Renon, Denpasar where the elephant waste is turned into an environmentally friendly fertilizer. Features of the new breeding area includes, public access and viewing area, one of the deepest elephant wading ponds in South East Asia. Plus the planting of over 1000 trees including 30 different species of palm trees, landscape gardens and free roaming area for the courting couple to breed. The Park also set about beautifying the area with thousands of native & imported orchids.
2004 – October: 10 new elephants are saved and brought to Bali, including 2 baby elephants, (2 year old Debby & 4 year old Ryan) and transmigrated from Sumatra to join the Elephant Safari Park family thereby making a total of 27 rescued Elephants. This journey was documented by an Australian film company to be released later as a 1-hour television feature which is shown worldwide on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, NHK and numerous other networks. The nmae of the documentary film is ‘Operation Jumbo’.
2005 – In keeping with the commitment of Bali Adventure Tours to the development of new products for the tourism industry in Bali, the company commences the building of a ‘5 star’ hotel project at the Elephant Safari Park named the Elephant Safari Park Lodge & Spa. This includes a full range of rooms from VIP to standard to suit most budgets. A swimming pool and a fully licensed bar, Spa & Fitness room overlooking the Elephants and the Park. It was completed in late 2007.
The acclaimed documentary ‘Operation Jumbo’ is released to an international audience of millions. The documentary details the nail biting adventures of Nigel Mason as he attempts to rescue and transport another 10 elephants over 3000 kilometers, crossing three Indonesian islands to the safe haven of his Park. The spellbinding tale has been seen globally on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Wildlife Asia Channel and is now available on DVD with Japanese, Russian, Mandarin, French, Indonesian and English subtitles. ‘Operation Jumbo’ was also awarded as a ‘BBC Panda Award’ Finalist.
2006 – The Elephant Breeding Program is started after the oldest male elephant, Seng Wong, finally comes into ‘Musth’ ready to mate.
2007 – The 27 room Mason Elephant Park Lodge is completed with stunning attention to detail. Featuring an array of beautifully appointed accommodations including an exclusive two-bedroom Taro Suite, as well as Park view, Garden View and Paddy View rooms and a unique Elephant Chauffeur service from the Lodge rooms using purpose built elevated landing direct onto the back of an elephant. However the lodge was not opened until 2008 after an intense staff training period for ‘local’ staff.
The Elephant Safari Park Lodge features include the Safari Wellness Spa – the first Safari themed Spa in Bali which garnered accolades form prestigious travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler as HOT SPA 2008, a Fitness & Weights Room, Swimming Pool and Mammoth Head Bar & Lounge.
The Park at this time also enhances its wedding facilities with a new Wedding Pavilion and Private Gazebo. A traditional antique Javanese Joglo portraying the ceremonial pavilions which is featured in many royalty palaces in central Java, commands the marble and stone purpose-built facility. The private dining gazebo was added to provide a romantic and intimate setting for bridal couples. The whole park is further upgraded to match the hotels ‘5 star’ facilities.
2008 – On 19 January 2008, the Mason Elephant Park Lodge officially opened to present an unparalleled destination experience in Bali and the world to stay and experience the daily life of elephants in their lush retreat. The Mason Elephant Park Lodge offers a world exclusive experience to interact, feed, ride, observe, learn, play and stay with 31 beautiful Sumatran elephants, one of the most rare and endangered species of elephants left in the world today. The Lodge is later named in the ‘Top 10 Most Unique Hotels in the World’ by the Discovery Travel Channel.
Simultaneously Nigel Mason launches his self penned and published children’s book The Tale of the First White Elephant in Bali in both English and Indonesian to fantastic reviews.
The DVD release of the acclaimed documentary Operation Jumbo is made available for purchase with Japanese, Russian, Mandarin, French, Indonesian and English subtitles in the Park shop.
In August 2008 the company re-releases and vastly expands its product brochures and catalogues with stunning new photography and information in English, Japanese and Russian print versions. The addition of a new Lodge Brochure and new Wedding Brochure as well as a new company DVD and Souvenir CD were also added to range of collateral.
A new adventure tour, Safari Under the Stars – An Evening with the Elephants is introduced in late 2008 allowing visitors for the first time to experience the Park at night. The evening with the elephants includes a special night show and dinner under the palm trees.
In December 2008 the expansion of the Elephant Park Boutique with its mezzanine level is completed as well as many Park enhancements including re-roofing of the Park Restaurant, completion of a new Shade House for the Elephants and a new docking bay from the Lodge’s Mammoths Head Bar and the installation of ramps and access points to ensure the Park is Wheelchair Friendly, a disabled toilet was also installed and an elephant ‘Nursery’ area added to the park.
2009 – Sees the company celebrating 20 years of unparalleled adventure experience as the first and longest standing Adventure Tour Company in Bali. In mid 2009 the Park’s first naturally conceived baby elephant is born. This is world first for the Park and a testament to the Park’s efforts to conserve and breed this endangered species. All goes according to nature and plan and this marks the first baby Sumatran elephant to be conceived and born in captivity in Bali. The first birth was quickly followed by two more this year. The last baby birth, ‘Riski’, was put on YouTube and has had millions of hits, because of its graphic and dramatic footage narrated by Nigel himself.
Bali Adventure Tours embarks on the total re-building and upgrading of its White Water Rafting operation on the Ayung River, moving further up river to a more pristine and unspoiled part of the Ayung River.
The bus fleet increased yet again in size to accommodate increasing tourist numbers.
2010 – Stage one of a two part upgrading of the White Water Rafting operation opens in November, boasting a state of the art Rafting starting point, with 21st century facilities and equipment. A new amazing staircase is build to the river, with rest areas and stainless steel handrails to the river below.
The Rafting finishing point is also re-built at a new location with high tech facilities, all beautifully landscaped by Nigel and his team. A new staircase off the river is also built to connect to the main road.
The bus fleet is further increased and the foundations are laid for a new complex at the rafting finishing point at Kedewatan area in Ubud that will include numerous new and upgrading facilities for guests, making the company’s rafting operation up there with the ‘best in the world’.
2012 – The fourth baby Elephant (Fajar) is born at the Elephant Safari Park and a complete remake of the ‘Nursery’ area is completed. A new Movie Theatre is opened to show ‘Operation Jumbo’ to all guests that visit the park.
2013 – The magnificent ‘Ubud Adventure Centre’ is opened in Kedewatan in Ubud. This multi-million dollar development is the culmination of 25 years of rafting and Adventure experience, being the most modern state of the art adventure facility in the Southern Hemisphere and throughout all Asia. This now serves as both the start and finish of all White Water Rafting tours in the company.
The centre contains beautifully appointed modern changing rooms with individual electronic bracelet-controlled guest lockers.
A Choice of two restaurants, ‘Yanies Restaurant’, the ‘Canopy’, a Coffee Shop, the ‘Shinto’ Japanese Spa (the first of its type in Bali) and two luxurious apartments with private swimming pool. The ‘Blu Bar’ offers guests an amazing night time experience with its multi levels of roof gardens. The centre also houses a Gift Shop, ‘The House of Yanie’, which was relocated from Kuta to the new Adventure Centre with an upstairs Gallery.
To finish off, the complex has its own Bakery, two levels of underground parking and situated on the forth floor, a purpose-built Helipad for either Emergency evacuation or scenic Sky tours to commence in the near future.
A Digital Photo & Video Service is also now available at the Centre.
2014 – Bali Adventure Tours adds yet another tour to the Elephant Safari Park after a high demand form the guests. ‘Bathe & Breakfast’ with the Elephants quickly becomes a very popular tour.
It is decided ‘Bali Adventure Sky Tours’ would be relaunched with the purchase of a new Eurocopter B2 Helicopter in late 2014.
This year ended as being the company’s most successful year to date.
Company founder Nigel Mason celebrates his 70th birthday with 500 friends and family.
2015 – The company yet again enlarges its fleet of company cars with a further upgrade of many of the older buses as well. All Helipads are upgraded to cater for the new larger Helicopter and a Hangar is built for the Elephant Safari park Helipad.
‘Bali Adventure Sky Tours’ commences its operation early in the year after a 12-year hiatus and quickly re-establishes itself as the only luxury VIP Helicopter service in Bali with Air Conditioning and state of the art camera system, giving customers a view both inside and outside the aircraft using four cameras for souvenir photos and video.
2017 – Bali Adventure Tours starts up new ATV tours in Taro under the name of Mason Jungle Buggies, the first and only ‘purpose-built ATV track’ in Bali. The tours utilize the latest American-built Polaris machines, the first ATV model in the world to enclose guests with a roll bar cage for total protection.