Around 75% of the world’s captive elephants have been illegally captured, with over 3,000 used for entertainment purposes in Asia alone. The annual World Elephant Day (Sunday 12th August) is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants, as many fight to change this fate. In celebration of this special day, the meaningful travel experts at Rickshaw Travel have hand-picked their top five trips for observing these magnificent mammals in their natural environment.
Caroline King, Product Manager at Rickshaw Travel, comments: “As a company, we are focused on providing experiences that benefit everyone involved, and this is no different when it comes to animals. We proudly no longer offer elephant riding as part of our trips; instead we promote more responsible and sustainable natural interactions with these fascinating and intelligent animals. By visiting small sanctuaries and spotting them in the wild, tourists can use their travel as a force for good by supporting the local communities in the battle to protect these awesome creatures.”
Periyar National Park, South India
A walking safari is the perfect opportunity to see an elephant in the wild. Travellers of Rickshaw Travel can enjoy an excursion to Periyar National Park, where they can witness the Indian Elephant, a subspecies of the native Asian elephant. They can then glimpse this majestic giant by the lakes, peacefully grazing in amongst the tall grass – a sight to cherish forever.
*Visit the Periyar National Park with Rickshaw Travel as part of the Backwaters and Wildlife trip. Prices from £345pp; this trip can only be booked as part of a longer itinerary. Or visit the park, as part of Rickshaw’s flexible 15-day itinerary, Wildlife and Waterways. Prices from £1275pp.
The Elephant Transit Home, and Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Those in search of elephants need look no further than Sri Lanka; a country that’s home to a population of up to 4,000 endangered Sri Lankan elephants. Many travellers opt to visit the popular Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, however due to concerns about the treatment of the elephants and ethos of the orphanage, Rickshaw Travel instead offers a visit to Elephant Transit Home, as part of their Yala National Park trip. The Elephant Transit Home is a rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured elephants, with a strict no-contact policy. Visitors here can observe the elephants in a natural atmosphere and see how they interact with one another during feeding time.
*Visit the Elephant Transit Home with Rickshaw Travel as part of the Wild Heart of Yala National Park trip. Prices from £218pp; this trip can only be booked as part of a longer itinerary. Or visit the park, as part of Rickshaw’s flexible 8-day itinerary, Sri Lanka in a Nutshell. Prices from £1235pp.
Get off the beaten track in Thailand and discover the Wildlife Friends Foundation – an organisation rescuing and rehabilitating sick or injured elephants. Travellers can embark upon a guided tour, staying in a quaint bungalow right next to the elephant’s enclosure – prime viewing indeed!
*Visit the Wildlife Friends Foundation with Rickshaw Travel as part of the Temple Caves & Elephant Herds of Pranburi trip. Prices from £495pp; this trip can only be booked as part of a longer itinerary.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Head to Northern Thailand and visit the Elephant Nature Park. Located outside of Chiang Mai, this park is dedicated to caring for elephants who have endured mistreatment in camps and circuses. With more than 35 elephants calling the park home, visitors can admire these animals from afar but gets hands on with preparing lunch ahead of the elephant’s feeding time.
*Visit the Elephant Nature Park with Rickshaw Travel as part of the Elephant Encounters in Chiang Mai trip. Prices from £235pp; this trip can only be booked as part of a longer itinerary. Or visit the park, as part of Rickshaw’s flexible 9-day itinerary, Remote Hills & Rescued elephants. Prices from £871pp.
Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka
Those in search of adventure should head to Minneryiya or Kaudulla National Park. During this bite-sized trip, travellers will get the opportunity to climb the famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress, before embarking on an elephant safari. An expert local ranger will be on hand to tell visitors all that they need to know about these magnificent creatures and how they spend their days freely roaming amongst their heard.
*Take a jeep Safari in Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park with Rickshaw Travel as part of the Elephant’s in Buddha’s Garden trip. Prices from £258pp; this trip can only be booked as part of a longer itinerary. Or visit the park, as part of Rickshaw’s flexible 2-week itinerary, A Taste of Sri Lanka. Prices from £1598pp
There are plenty more ways to explore the extraordinary animal kingdom on an ethical wildlife-packed adventure holiday with Rickshaw Travel. To find out more information about the trips available, please visit: www.rickshawtravel.co.uk