We recently removed all elephant riding from our trips, a decision taken after much deliberation and discussion with a range of experts, including the Born Free Foundation and Mahouts Elephant Foundation.
But you can still enjoy these magnificent creatures with Explore, both in the wild on safari, and at properly-run sanctuaries such as the excellent Elephant Valley Project in Cambodia which we visit on our easy-graded walking trip, Cambodian Trails – Angkor and Beyond
. Walking and Trekking Programme Manager, Caroline Phillips, tells us more.
"When our local partners in Cambodia first recommended that we include walking with a herd of elephants on the new walking trip we were developing, I was intrigued and immediately knew it was something our customers would enjoy. The experience, that we call ‘walking with the herd’, involves spending the best part of a day walking alongside a small herd of elephants at a sanctuary run by the Elephant Valley Project
. You will learn all about these amazing animals, the local mahouts, the forest they live in and the conservation work of the project.
The elephants are all retired and rehabilitated, having been previously worked by the Bunong tribal people of Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia’s remote east, where the sanctuary is based. Launched in 2007 as a sanctuary for injured and overworked elephants, the Project also provides province-wide veterinary care and social support programs for the Bunong. Endorsed by Mahouts as a shining example of what ‘elephant tourism’ can be, our customers say that their day spent walking with the sanctuary’s elephants is one of the trip’s highlights.’
Elephants aside, another unique highlight of our Cambodia walking trip
is the chance to explore Angkor’s iconic temple ruins on foot on a network of little-known paths that link up through the jungle. Used by the locals, you’re following in the footsteps of explorers of old and highly unlikely to stumble across another tourist until you get to the next temple.