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Being a huge ele-fan, I’ve always wanted to be up and close to a real life elephant but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to see those captured and mistreated. So when I stumbled across Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary (thanks to my friends!), I was thrilled to bits!

Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is an elephant conservation centre that helps rescue, raise and give shelter to orphaned elephants or the ones that need to be re-homed. Located in Pahang, its a 2 hour journey from Kuala Lumpur.

Things you’ll need to prepare for this trip:
– Wear shorts, casual top and flip-flops (avoid white)
– Bring an extra set of change
– Towel
– Plastic bag for the wet clothes
– Soap & shampoo for a quick shower
– Cash for the activities and food for the elephants (and you!)
– Snacks and music for the long drive

The place is secluded and deep in, so Waze proved itself to be incredibly helpful! There’s handful of activities (click on the picture below to enlarge and read!) starting from 7.45am onwards. 12105966_10153224259167058_9105045008854203208_nTo go visit there aren’t any charges, but you’ll need to pay for the activities which I feel is very reasonable. Besides, how else can you get up close and personal with elephants without causing them any harm? We opted for the elephant shower package – where you get to bath a baby elephant and have a guide take you on a tour! RM75 for two people.

We got there around 12.30pm and had lunch at the place itself. The food was decent (which I was pleasantly surprised about!). At around 1pm there was a video presentation on how the rescue and relocate the elephants, which was a real eye opener and definitely worth watching.

Once done, we were assigned to our guide. There’s four to a group (depending on the crowd), so we were lucky that it was a slow day at the sanctuary which means more one on one time with the elephants.

We were given a brief introduction of the place, what they do and then introduced to the elephants. There was a small stall set up to purchase food to feed them with an option of sugarcane or bananas; IMG_230712144784_10153224259252058_2496280108929033535_nThere were many elephants from different age groups. It was really fascinating to see how they play and react to people, how they reach out and take the food.

I was most fascinated by the oldest one there, Raja;

IMG_2316He was probably the least paid attention to, but my favourite with his gentle demeanour. Grabbing everything fed to him without skipping a beat and shoving it in his mouth, and also being cheeky with the guides.

The other two were the youngest there. As I attempted to selfie with them, the guide warned me against it as these little fellas have a tendency to be playful and pull at everything within their reach. Since I love my hair, I decided against it.
IMG_2323Moving along we were escorted to where the elephant show are. I was pretty put off by the idea but was comforted as soon as the guide explained that these elephants don’t do shows like play tricks, kick balls and stuff but have been trained to assist with rescues of other elephants. IMG_2324You could see the mutual respect that the mahout (the person who trains and works with the elephants) share with the gentle giant. These few were a different batch of elephants from the ones we fed, so there was a feeding session for them too; IMG_233612105811_10153224259732058_1882049452012207433_nIMG_2324IMG_2337Then it was time to prepare to watch them shower! We took a short walk to the area, while walking through the elephant play area ;
IMG_2322It’s a wide green area filled with fruit trees. Apparently the elephants roam free for to enjoy this area when there aren’t any guests. Besides this area, was the river the elephants bath in ;
IMG_2341The river was clean! I was so relieved that the water was clear and you could actually see through. It was fairly clean and I say fairly because the elephants tend to poop in it. However because its flowing water, it wasn’t something we needed to worry about.

Once the guides showered that batch of elephants, they brought in baby elephants to shower. In groups of four, we all took turns to go in and bath them. We went first; 12109226_10153224260267058_5817123840795393782_nThe guides splashed us with water (the cold, cold water!) to get us used to it (or probably for their own personal amusement of watching us squeal!). We were instructed to grab the sand from the bottom and give the elephant a scrub ; 12109301_10153225733317058_5541377362800224757_nOnce done we splashed some more and took some pictures before the next group took over. All in all we were in the river for about 10 minutes or so. The picture taking session had the guides in it to, so it took some major cropping skills to get an image like the one below;  IMG_2433That was it – we got out and went to shower before heading back home. There’s a deer park nearby that we didn’t get a chance to visit, but heard such great things about. Until my next time then!

Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I’d definitely do it again. The elephants are gorgeous and healthy, the place is clean and well kept, the guides were friendly and helpful – perfect for every elephant lover!
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Fallen in ele-love,
Harmini Asokumar

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