At last we were going to see elephants today! After scoffing down some breakfast of banana pancakes, omelets or fruit salad it was in the mini bus for a short bumpy ride to the elephant sanctuary. After an introduction from the founder of the sanctuary, Jack, it was time to descend into heaven! Heaven is the name of the valley in which many of the elephants love to roam as it has their favourite foods such as bamboo, vines, ginger and all kinds of forest foliage.
Many of these elephants have been rescued and bought from the tourism trade, logging industry and communities that can no longer manage the elephant. They also have elephants that come for a rest and recuperation period by their owners.
Once down in heaven it was time to meet some of the elephants such as Onion, Ruby, Ning Wan and Mae Nang. They went into the river for their daily bath and volunteers had the opportunity to throw buckets of water over them to help them out 🙂 Once they were washed, and had thrown mud back over themselves, the volunteers followed them through the jungle and watched them in their natural environment, trumpeting, squeaking and grumbling, eating and scratching on trees. It was amazing to see them just act like natural elephants.
It was time for lunch and siesta time so a steep walk back up to base camp where there are beautiful wooden bungalows and relaxing hammocks and couches. A buffet style lunch and some relaxation time was had. Before you knew it were back into walking down the hill and crossing rivers into a different valley where we got to see another group of elephants wash, swim and frolic by themselves in the deep river. It’s quite something to see an elephant swim and go completely under water with just its trunk above the surface!
Unfortunately we had to leave to head back to town, but fortunately we had some delicious dinner ahead of us! The temperature was unseasonably cool this evening and the jackets were out! Everyone is very pumped to start the volunteer work tomorrow where we will be working in the river to help stabilise the banks and create miniature dams for more places for the elephants to swim.