So it is 2018 already huh? I have started the year off being ill and I mean ILL – flu, tonsillitis, fever the whole package. So I am sorry about the radio silence here and I hope anyone reading this is having better luck.
Spending 3 weeks in Southeast Asia in December and spending Christmas and New Year in my birth country was lovely and I cherished all the family time. I also experienced by far the best day of my life when we travelled to Cambodia. I have a few posts coming up on my trip but I thought my first post of the year should be about the best experience – the elephant sanctuary. Most people know that I love these majestic creatures and in reality my dream job would be to work on elephant conservation, who knows maybe it will still happen one day. But for now, I have to make do with visiting the conservations and donating. In Cambodia, many elephant sanctuaries are found in the less touristy province of Mondulkiri.
How to get there? Take a bus from Phnom Penh (roughly 4.5hours & 10USD) or Siem Reap (roughly 8 hours & 17 USD). We used Rithya Mondulkiri Express, it was really easy to message them on Facebook and make a reservation and the vans were comfortable.
Please pre-warn anyone you are travelling with of the journey. I failed to mention it to my family because they left me in charge of planing our trip agenda. Listen, if you are not going to get involved in the planning, do not complain during the execution. It was a long drive, but every moment of it was worth it because I got to meet the most beautiful elephants: Princess, Sophia, Lucky, Happy and Comvine with their beloved Mr.Tree, the founder of the Mondulkiri project.
There are two tour options you can choose from, the one day elephant tour which involves a small trek into the jungle, feeding the elephants and watching them in their environment (and boy do they love those bananas!) then a traditional khmer lunch which was absolutely delicious. Finally you spend the afternoon in the river with the elephants bathing them. I must say I was very happy to see that there were no men walking around with sticks to threaten the elephants and neither where the elephants forced to stay around us. They came for food and that is also how they were lured into the river and then when they had enough and wanted some peace away from us annoying humans they left.
The second tour option is for the more adventurous traveller and included a second day of plainly hiking through the forest and an overnight stay at this isolated tree lodge amidst the jungle.
The beauty of this sanctuary is the hard work they do around protecting working elephants. At the moment they have 6 elephants, 5 of which are the females I named above. Mike, the male, is more aggressive and used for only one purpose, to make some babies, Mr.Tree explained how it was a job many must envy. Many elephants around the world are made to work and carry heavy loads, this includes humans. I cannot emphasise how important it is that you do not ride elephants, places that offer elephant rides are tourist traps and usually mistreat these large mammals.
After we spent the morning feeding the elephants and having lunch we made our way down to the small waterfall and waited for our friendly giants to join us. Bathing is an important activity in getting rid of any parasites inhabiting the Elephant’s body.
One thing worth mentioning, is that the temperature in Mondulkiri is always colder than Siem Reap and we were greeted with 15 degree’s, but I didn’t let this stop me from getting into the fresh water river and having more quality time with my long nosed friends.
Apart from me slipping and getting completely wet in the freezing stream with strong currents, grazing my foot and having my mom have a panic attack because I forgot my Tetanus vaccination, it was the most amazing day of my life and I cannot tell you enough how much you should support this. If you love elephants and are travelling to Cambodia then this is the place to visit and don’t you dare live without, not only do you immerse yourself in Cambodia’s wildlife outside of the bustling cities, but you get to do something good for this charity and these beautiful animals too.
Happy Rainy Sunday from London
9 thoughts on “A day with the rescued Elephants of Mondulkiri”
I really enjoyed your enthusiasm as I am in awe of elephants too.
A few years ago I went to a conservation from Luang Prabang and rode and bathed an elephant there. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
They were rescue elephants frim logging so were already domesticated etc. I was assured that this place was the kindest etc.
Years on it haunts me because I’m worried I have contributed to something I shouldn’t have and feel quite stupid.
I will try to visit this place for sure.
Hey, I have been there too, about 5 years ago I was in Phuket and went elephant riding, I was so oblivious to the fact that this was harmful to the elephant. The picture we took on top of the elephant while posed (probably forced by the local threatening him with a stick) still haunts me today too 😦 It is so hard these day’s to tell who is authentic and who is just exploiting it for monetary gains.
We are considering a visit to SE Asia, so this is perfect info for us. We definitely want to take our 4 kids to learn and experience these awesome animals.
Hey Tam, it definitely is worth the visit. You might be better off traveling from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri with the kids to make sure they aren’t too uncomfortable or restless on the bus journey 🙂 Have fun on your trip! x