Lesley and Alistair Greenhill recently travelled to Burma on our Beautiful Burma Small Group Tour, where they had the privilege of meeting some of the country’s largest inhabitants…
While we were visiting the Kalaw area of Burma we had the opportunity to visit an elephant sanctuary. This was one of the highlights of our holiday. After a beautiful drive through stunning mountains we had a ten minute walk to the elephant camp.
There are only a few elephants at the sanctuary at the moment as they are very expensive to care for. We had an explanation of the work and were told how these animals had mostly been used in the logging industry. Some had health problems, and many had been suffering from stress when they first came to the site.
We arrived in time to feed the little group with bamboo and pumpkin. They immediately showed their personalities – some shy, some mischievous. The elephant I was feeding had no time for bamboo and just tossed it on the ground – she clearly preferred the pumpkin.
We changed into shorts, which were provided to save our own clothes getting wet, and walked along by the river to wash a couple of elephants. They were sitting down in the water and very tolerant of our small group splashing them with water and rubbing dust from their skins. They are surprisingly hairy! I have never been so close to such a massive creature. I was right next to a female elephant’s ear and could look her in the eye. She was perfectly relaxed and I felt her calmness washing over me as I poured water over her skin.
The river was clear and cool, which was pleasant as it was a very hot day. After a while the elephants left with their handlers (mahouts). We saw their treatment centre and we all planted a teak tree on the site before having a very tasty lunch.
The elephants do their entertaining of the tourists in the morning – although we were, in fact, participating in their normal routine. This helps to pay for their upkeep and veterinary bills. In the afternoons they are free to wander in the jungle.
This day at the elephant camp is something I will always remember, and if I ever go back, I wonder – will they remember me too?
We can arrange a visit to Kalaw’s Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp as part of any tailored trip to Burma – or you can do as Lesley did and join one of our fantastic group tours. Just get in touch with one of our Burma experts to find out more.