Elephant Valley Project
Elephant sanctuary offers up-close and personal fa
What we say:
An elephant reserved focused on rehabilitiating and rescuiring Cambodian pachyderms from bad situations, Elephant Valley gives tourists a chance to get up close and personal with the world's largest land animals.
Both half and full day experiences are on offer, shepherded by charismatic program leaders Englishman Jack Highwood and Australian Jemma Bullock. The two are happy to answer questions about elephant biology, behavior, and conservation in Cambodia, and the ins-and-outs of running an operation as complicated and involved as a Cambodian elephant rescue organization. You'll get to pat the elephants, wash them in a creek, learn about how mahouts handle elephants with sticks, ropes, or hooks, and observe elephant behavior in a semi-wild setting. Half-day visitors are given small chores to do around the charming grounds of Elephant Valley's HQ after a lunch break, and the truly elephant-mad can stay overnight on the grounds. Elephants aside, it's exceptionally pleasant to hang out at the reserve's headquarters and sip a Coke with a marvelous view of protected Mondulkiri jungle spread out beneath you.
Don't come here expecting to ride a elephant, however. The management are ideologically opposed to elephant riding, considering it to be cruel and unnecessary in elephant-impoverished Cambodia—and after hanging around them for a day, they converted me as well. If you really fall in love, long-term volunteer placements can be arranged—ask Jack or Jemma for details.
Read 1 opinions from Travelfish readers
Great experience, depending on your guide
14th January, 2013
The opportunity to watch elephants up close as they ramble through the jungle really is amazing, and makes the Elephant Valley Project well worth a visit. Unfortunately, however, the director is an extraordinarily unpleasant person and his whiny arrogance really starts to taint the experience after a few hours. He also seems perplexingly ignorant about the elephants, forest flora and fauna, etc etc. You'll probably be lucky, though, as apparently he rarely works as a guide, and the other (local, Phnong) guide we had during our one day there was fantastic: knowledgeable, easy-going and just generally great to be around.
Washing the elephants in the afternoon is also a major highlight: if you choose to volunteer for half of the day you might miss out on this, so maybe check that when you book.
Elephant Valley Project reviewed by JessicaWaters (1)
Written on 14th January, 2013, rated Visited here in December, 2012
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