29 independent reviews for Elephant conservation in Thailand

Reviews for Elephant conservation in Thailand

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review 9 Jul 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Just being with the elephants every day was amazing

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared to take on a different way of life without judging based on western ways.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes being a part of the mahout life for a week helped them financially and also it helps us to understand their way of life. It also allows the elephants time to graze, rest and just be elephants!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic and amazing and we definitely want to come back again. Thank you

review 21 Aug 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Every aspect of hands on work with my elephant Noi.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be flexible and open minded about the accommodation. We moved three times, each house getting better. A lot of your time will be spent just sitting on your elephant whilst she eats. For me this was an amazing privilege but for others it was a bit boring.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I would to think that the Mahouts and elephants both benefited. It funded the camp to allow the elephants plenty of rest periods. A great deal of care was given to individual elephants mine in particularly as she was older and had joint problems. She was seen by the vet and allowed to rest. There was no pressure put on her. This can only be the best outcome for the elephants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Loved each second of it. 10/10. It's on par with similar vacations I have been on.

review 22 Nov 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being able to have the one to one contact with the mahout and elephant. It enabled me to get a better understanding of not only the beautiful elephant Campion but also the culture through having conversations with the mahout Boonma. It made it more special.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Just be open to the experience and to finding ways to communicate as their English is very basic. I found a translation book helped.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It depends how the money is used that I paid for my vacation. I feel my contact with Boonma helped his understanding of some English words and I was very hands on getting up in the morning grass cutting and trying to integrate myself as much as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

My vacation was the best experience of my life, so much so I wasn't ready to leave and got very upset when the time came to leave. I fell in love my elephant Campion and Boonma and his family welcomed me with open arms. Such good hearted people. The experience with them added to my amazing experience and I would recommend anyone try this experience. I would give this experience 10 out of 10 there was nothing I feel could of been better except for me booking longer!

review 15 Jul 2013

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The baby elephant playing-a real privilege to see!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Enjoy the experience-take every opportunity and use your spare time to visit local attractions as there is lots of relaxation time :-) ps don't forget your towels as not supplied at volunteers house

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Financially yes it helped the project

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Not the hard work we expected but thoroughly enjoyed-thankyou

review 18 Dec 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The Elephant Mahout Project was the most memorable vacation I have ever had. Being in such close proximity to the elephants everyday and getting to know the mahouts was very special. Learning how to climb onto the elephant was difficult at first but very funny none the less. The entire vacation was memorable from start to finish. The family we stayed with were incredibly kind, friendly and welcoming and we will miss them immensly. They could not have done more for us in and went out of their way to make sure we had a wonderful week.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't have any concerns about this trip as it is marvellous. Any age can is capable of going and you will be looked after remarkably well by all concerned. Large parts of the day are taken up by riding the elephants without a harness, scary at first but the mahout is always with you and there is nothing to worry about safety wise.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Most definately, the vacation was entirely based aroud local people and benefitting them. It was a so refreshing to be on a vacation that had no trappings of consumerism.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was the best vacation I have ever experienced. My daughter and I cried when we left the elephant camp on the last day. We built up very strong bonds with our elephants, their owners and thier families. A very happy, emotional experience. We will be going back to visit them all soon.

review 22 Jun 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

All of it!! The elephants, the people, the food, the weather, the atmosphere, the prices, the temples, the history.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We stayed at the volunteer house for 2 weeks, which we felt was long enough to do everything we wanted to do, as 1 week would have felt very rushed to fit it in. I would recommend taking books and games etc for when you have free time. You really get out of it what you put in.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I do, as we were staying in a nice local community, not a large tourist area. We were therefore supporting smaller local businesses and public transport, and reducing environmental impacts, by not having sheets/towels changed every day like you would in a hotel. I also think the money donated will help support not only the elephants, but the mahouts that work with them so they can continue living and working in this way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent, 10/10

review 3 Feb 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The long wanderings on my elephant, chatting with my mahout about their life. Learning to make elephant hair rings, hammocks, grasshoppers out of palm leaves. Teaching English to my mahout. The nights in the camp hut. When my elephant finally obeyed me without the help of my mahout!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for the difficulties in communication - be prepared to teach your mahout some English, and learn some Thai from him! The house has all mod-cons, so no need to bring anything, you're well taken care of.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Mostly indirectly and financially. The mahouts earned more money, the local trades had more business. However, it definitely benefited the elephants, who without us would be stuck in their hut waiting for tourists to go around the same old boring path. With us, they were taken out on walks twice a day, to places where they could graze more or less freely, and without the use of the 'chair'. The mahouts also benefit from learning and practicing English, learning about our culture(s) and perspectives. Impact on the environment depends largely on you. Using the aircon, fans and lights non-stop is clearly not the best, but you could choose not to use these. Our deeply ingrained recycling ideas get passed on to the mahouts, who then learn not to randomly leave plastic bags on the ground.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. A unique experience, a great feeling to learn new skills and learn more about the Thai culture. Several volunteers seem to come back for seconds and thirds :)

review 13 Dec 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Itís hard to select just one, the entire trip was exciting and memorable. I did not want to come home! The families made me feel at home while I was there. I was amazed but loved the amount of interaction we were able to have with the animals.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Definitely book it, it will be the best vacation of your life!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, the locals were all so happy to see us. We had children in the street standing next to us for photos, I felt like a celebrity. Us being there gave them some more business which made me feel good considering their life style in comparison to mine.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

11 out of 10, and I am planning on going back in another few months.

review 25 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Everything really! But I guess some of the most memorable will be - the first time I climbed on the neck of my elephant and my last day when I collected her from her "sleeping area" and rode her to have a shower as the sun rose. Priceless.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

All the information provided to me by the operator was exactly what I needed so there's not a lot more to add. The things I couldn't have lived without during my visit were anti-mosquito stuff and my Thai / English phrase book.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, I did feel it benefited local people as we spoke to the Mahouts and their families in English, which they are always keen on learning. We also bought local products such as the jewellery they made, drinks at the cafe and bananas and coconuts for the elephants. We also helped plant trees when we were out there.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely fabulous!

review 20 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

For my husband it was meeting the chief of the indigenous people of Thailand and sharing a poisoned blow dart gun with him, and receiving the blow darts to bring home. For me the whole trip was amazing, especially snorkelling on the coral reefs on a small private island in the south. We love this operator, and highly recommend them to anyone. Our trip with the Elephant Mahout Project was life changing. We recommend that everyone take the opportunity to travel responsibly. Thank you all for an amazing vacation.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go with an open mind, embrace the cultural differences, be prepared to hike in the heat, play in the water, and live your life in the present moment.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes that the local people benefited and minimized impact on the environment. Using local tour guides empowers the locals to share, love, and appreciate the beauty they live in every day. Travelers learn so much more about where they are traveling.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

This is the best vacation we have ever taken. We look forward our future travels with the companies associated with you. We have referred all companies to many people already and will continue to do so. Thank You.

review 19 Aug 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The time spent riding Sandi, my elephant. To sit on such a large strong animal and feel so peaceful was amazing, you'll shed tears when you have to say goodbye.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take easy to slip on and off plastic beanie type footwear for the camp, very useful if its wet, very strong insect repellent and clothing with a pocket to carry your camera, you'll want to take loads of photos whilst you're riding.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, it keeps these wonderful, gentle creatures off the streets, away from the silly games they make some of them play and in a natural environment as possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


review 22 Apr 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being up close and hands on with the elephants was amazing. You dont realise how gentle and inquisitive they really are. Donít be scared of them, embrace it, youíre never going to get a chance to be this close again.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Learn some Thai before you go. It will help you to communicate with the mahouts that donít speak very good English.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. You get to spend everyday with your mahout and their elephant, so you get to see their way of living. You help them cut grass for the elephants, plant trees to grow around camp and enjoy their peaceful way of living.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely amazing. Would definitely go and say hello if Iím visiting Thailand again. Mrs Noi was fantastic; the local lady who put us up in her accommodation and showed us some of the local area. Shame I didnít have more time to explore.

review 20 Apr 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

My experiences with the local people - the mahout families!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Ja, I think that was the case.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a great, lovely and memoriable vacation!

review 4 Dec 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Learning to communicate with a Thai elephant. Eating with the locals in an open air market.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for the slow pace of life in an elephant camp. Take some books or magazines to read whilst sitting on a stationary elephant for an hour or so twice a day while she feeds on grass. Take cool clothes to cope with the heat.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good indeed. A truly unique experience.

review 19 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Punsab. She is the most gentle giant and comic I know. I felt very safe and secure in 'command' of this beautiful mammal, with the help of Non, her Mahout. He was very patient, a very clever man who loves his music and is very eager to learn. Witnessing an elephant in the 'bath', showering an elephant and riding it twice a day. Sitting at the river edge, hearing nothing but Punsab munching, the river running and beasties in the grasses, bliss. Mrs Noi, we learnt so much from each other. She loves her animals, from cats and dogs to her elephants. Mrs Noi took me to Bangkok, Pattaya, Colan Island and Bangsary Beach, she knew the good places to eat and the flavours were amazing. From the moment I arrived I was made very welcome. I was the only volunteer, but that did not make any difference, I learnt the language and saw places that I would never have found in such a short space of time. Everyone on the camp was friendly, including the dogs.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be open minded and respect the local cultures, but share yours with them. Even eat beasties, they taste like nuts, honestly, Silk Worm Pupa things, a bottle of water in hand. Go for it!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The project is amazing, and has achieved in giving both Mahouts and Elephants a safe and secure life. We ate locally and nothing goes to waste.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

An amzing experience that I will never forget.

review 19 Aug 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We enjoyed building a relationship with our mahouts and seeing how and where they lived. We were very touched when they visited Andy at our volunteer house when he became too ill to go to the camp for a couple of days. Cathy really enjoyed cutting the grass for her mahout's elephant, even though she had to get up early to do so! We also were very pleased to have met Mrs Noi who put herself out to be helpful and make us feel at home.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

There is quite alot of time after leaving the elephant camp each day and not much locally to do so bring alot of books to read. Also, a long sleeved shirt would be a good idea if you want to cut the grass.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

No. Not really.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had an enjoyable couple of weeks. We had previously spent a few days at another Thai elephant camp and it was interesting to compare the two.

Read the operator's response here:

We were sorry to hear that Andy did not really feel that his vacation benefited the local people since, although the primary aim of the project is improved welfare for the elephants, there are certainly very many ways that the local community also benefits from our presence Ė including providing regular income to the mahouts (thereby also greater security for their families) and encouraging a sense of pride in their traditional way of life, as well as financial benefits brought by volunteers' patronage of other small businesses in the area.

review 24 Aug 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

My most memorable moment was once I had got the technique to getting on the elephant properly, it's more challenging then it looks! Another high was then having the confidence and self-assurance to ride the elephant solo!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring clothes that you don't mind getting dirty and bring a good book for the down time.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This project benefits the mahouts in two way. The money that the volunteer pays is undoubtedly important, as it provides the mahout with an additional income which means that they don't have to give as many tourists rides. This means that the elephants are working less which is better for them. In addition I found that the mahouts did appreciate the volunteers, particularly when you do the mucking out! The mahouts are perfectly capable without the volunteers but being there does help them ease the work load for chores such as cutting the grass. Many hands make light work!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

I had the most rewarding vacation/ time ever. Being and working with the elephants was a life-long dream and did not fall short of expectations. With being accepted into the community a truly uplifting experience. I only wish I could have stayed longer. Maybe next year...!

review 2 Dec 2009

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The most memorable part of the vacation was being welcomed into my mahout's family for the length of my stay and I felt truly privileged to be given the opportunity to share fully in the day to day life of the mahout camp. It was great to learn a bit of Thai, be given cookery lessons, visit the temple for a service with my mahout's family, and just enjoy the crack. There is some lack of clarity about how many nights volunteers are allowed to stay at the camp and I would have felt very disappointed and frustrated if staying at the camp for the length of my stay had not been an option. As it is, I came back with fantastic memories of the people I met and their kindness and generosity. The Surin elephant festival was also a highlight ~ 280 elephants took part in street parades and demonstrations of their strength and intelligence. Not all of this was good ~ to see elephants dressed up in pink dresses (as some were) or doing tricks like performing seals left me cold... but other aspects of the festival which celebrated the magnificence of these animals were a joy to see.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Same as ever really ~ the more you muck in the more you get out of the experience. If you want to stay more than one or two nights at the mahout camp best check in advance that this will be ok ~ otherwise you might be disappointed. It's also worth remembering that the mahout are not riding instructors, many of them cannot speak English and some are quite shy ~ so come with bags of patience and be wiling to try all sorts of ways to communicate with your mahout.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes very much so. The financial contribution that volunteers make to the camp helps the mahout to maintain their way of life without overworking their elephants. Outside of the camp, our Thai host took us to eat at local street cafes and shop at local markets which helped to ensure our money went to local people not big corporations.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Brilliant.

review 11 Mar 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

There were so many! I'd been waiting for 57 years (my age) for this experience and when it happened, it surpassed all my expectations. The highest of the high points was riding into the lake on my elephant and helping to wash her - and then riding her back to camp. The whole experience was very hands on and I felt very safe in the care and under the watchful eyes of my Mahout and the team. The daily rides and instruction; the feeding and everyday care of the elephants; the laughs and general involvement in the life of the camp. It was ALL good.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If you have ever wanted to get up close and engage with elephants - this vacation is unmissable. Do wear long shorts or trousers (Elephant hair is very coarse); do be prepared to use muscle groups you may not have used before; do be prepared to get a little dirty at times; finally, don't forget your camera (although if you do, don't worry, the team will take lots of pics for you and present you with them all on a CD when you leave). Just do it!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

We stayed with Arnon, the Mahout Project Team Leader, and his family. We experienced the warmest of welcomes, the most fabulous home-cooked Thai food and were generally cared for and looked after as if we were "family". The added value of being taken to authentic (non tourist) Thai eating places, being chaperoned to the best Thai massage in the area and visiting a local state orphanage (at our request) was immense. We used public transport whenever possible and shopped locally for our daily needs. This vacation gave us insights into the Thai culture and way of life that we could never have gained as mere tourists. Finally, our financial contribution certainly helped the Mahouts and elephants, providing an alternative source of income for them. This enables the elephants to "earn" a better quality of life - rather than logging or living on the streets with their Mahouts.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

This was the BEST vacation we have ever experienced - and we have had many previous vacations, all over the world. We were traveling as a couple, but we could recommend this vacation for singles too, as every volunteer simply joins the "family" for the length of their stay - it is a very inclusive experience. We will certainly be keeping in contact with team and intend to visit them again!

review 4 Aug 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being up close to such huge animals.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go with the flow, don't expect to be "working" all the time, there is plenty of chill time, great for playing cards with the mahouts.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I hope so. Hopefully our money will support the mahouts, their families and, of course, their elephants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Fantastic. An experience never to be forgotten.

review 8 Apr 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being so close to these gentle giants is just incredible......the elephants were absolutely amazing! They are so friendly and loving and we are hoping to return within the 2 years in the hope that our elephants will remember us!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Mrs Noi a Thai volunteer at the project is lovely: very friendly and helpful and cant do enough for you... anything you want just let her know sheís more than happy to help! You do tend to have quite a bit of spare time, so I would recommend that you get involved as much as possible and make the most of being slightly away from the main tourist areas. Thai people are very friendly and their food is just fantastic!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We had a great time and an experience we will never forget. Working with all animals is so rewarding... if you havenít been on a volunteer vacation before... its an experience that everyone should have!

review 5 Nov 2008

I was disappointed to discover the elephant sanctuary I went to (Tai Tai) was not the one detailed on the operators website (Lake View), so naturally my experience did not match my expectations.

Read the operator's response here:

We are very sorry to hear that Joanne's experience did not match up to expectations. Due to changes in the ownership at Lake View camp, we recently moved our support to a larger and better-managed camp nearby which we believe actually offers a more rewarding experience overall but we can only apologise that we were unable to warn Joanne of the change in advance.

review 24 Sep 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The most memorable part would have to be the time I spent with my elephant Cam La. Learning to get on the elephant, learning to ride the elephant and learning the Thai instructions for commanding the elephant were fantastic and I enjoyed every minute I spent with all the elephants, especially with my one. I would definitely recommend the vacation to any animal lovers out there, as the work is not very hard at all, but the time spent with the elephants is a wonderful experience.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring lots of mosquito repellent as there are loads of flies, midges and large red ants in and around the camp. Be careful when picking up the pineapple leaves as they will give you lots of splinters if not handled correctly.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I do feel that my vacation benefited the mahouts tremendously. Since logging was rightly outlawed by the Thai government, this is the only way the mahouts can make a reasonable living now. It is also the best way to make sure that the elephants themselves are treated well and can live a happy and carefree existence, especially considering how long they can live for when domesticated.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Overall the vacation was fantastic, apart from the food that was included which was pretty bad, particularly for lunch and dinner. I was well aware that rice would be the staple diet twice a day, but there was little to no variety of food especially in the evening. The quality of the chicken we were regularly given was terrible, mostly consisting of bone, fat and gristle with hardly any meat whatsoever. This resulted in us eating out most nights. However, all the local Thai people who work with the project are so friendly and helpful, that nobody wanted to say anything negative to them.

Read the operator's response here:

We're pleased that Paul had such an enjoyable time overall. The food served at the project is certainly Thai food (which we do warn people) but in the evening there is usually a vegetable dish, a chicken dish and another meat &/or egg dish such as an omelette so we do always try to ensure there are a variety of options available (and I can personally confirm that it's usually very good too!) That said, if volunteers strongly prefer Western-style food (or just need to get the occasional pizza/burger "fix") there are quite a few alternative places to eat nearby.

review 26 Jul 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Spending lots of time around the elephants and with the other mahouts who were quite shy but very friendly. All the activities with the elephant were great including managing to get down successfully (unfortunately didn't manage the getting up part too well!)

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for some waiting around.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I felt that it contributed to the mahoutsí lifestyle and provided me with a very fun opportunity at the same time.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a very relaxing time and although I don't feel like I had too much control up there, it was a brilliant feeling sitting on top of the elephant going through the forest.

review 4 Feb 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Hanging out with the mahouts. Their lovely smiles.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I would tell them to bring a long pair of trousers for when you're riding the elephants as their skin can be quite tough. Make sure they're lightweight though i.e. linen as it's hot. Also when you're hanging out with your mahout it's good to have some games in mind to play i.e. we played noughts & crosses in the sand

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. The mahouts were getting a regular income which meant they can support their elephant & food supply.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

**** Ahnon showed us another camp where they are looking to move all the elephants. I would prefer to go there as the elephants have a lot more land to roam in. Thank you for all your help.

Read the operator's response here:

The original camp (which Sarah visited) was a lot better than many in Thailand but there were always plans to move to somewhere better once a suitable site could be found... when we came across another camp that was failing due to lack of financial support/visitors but with a much more spacious, peaceful location (which Sarah was shown), everything fell into place... I'm pleased to say that the move to the new camp was successfully completed in March and the mahouts, volunteers, not to mention the elephants all seem very happy in their new surroundings!

review 24 Aug 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The most memorable time of my stay at the elephant mahout project would be the night spent at the camp. I felt that this allowed for a much better integration with the locals and provided a better insight to their lives.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring a mosquito net in case the opportunity arises to stay within the camp. It may be an idea to bring postcards or something similar relating to your country to give to the mahout that you would be working with. You definitely won't be needing your Sunday Best for wearing on site. Ensure that you have long sleeve tops and full length trousers especially for picking pineapple leaves.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Unfortunately, I left the camp feeling that I had not contributed anything positive to the project or the local mahouts during my stay. I felt during the course of my stay that we were treated as tourists and the opportunity was not given to us to contribute more actively to the local mahouts or the elephants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

My vacation was without doubt very enjoyable and I have some great memories but I do feel that if I was to consider something like this again, I would prefer to be more actively involved in some work during my stay.

Read the operator's response here:

We were very sorry (and concerned) to learn that Denise did not feel she was able to contribute as much as she would have liked at the project and, whilst this is the first time we have ever received such feedback, we have already looked at ways in which we can ensure that volunteers do not leave with such sentiments in the future. One of the aims of the elephant project is to educate, not only the volunteers, but also the mahouts whose culture dictates that visitors should be treated as honoured guests and consequently, a few of the newer mahouts do have a little difficulty understanding that our volunteers are there (and actually want) to work! Whilst this can be overcome with a little persistence, we are also addressing the issue by developing a range of additional activities in which volunteers can positively contribute to the project including creating a volunteer garden to provide food for the mahouts, arranging a weekly English teaching session, setting aside time for volunteers to help promote the camp by distributing leaflets and accompanying the mahouts when they take tourists for rides. We also ask volunteers to mention if they have any specific skills which they feel could benefit the camp/project so that we can try to put these skills to good use during their visit. We would like to assure Denise, and anyone else who might be thinking of visiting the project, that it simply would not be possible to continue providing incomes for the mahouts, not to mention a safe/comfortable environment for both animals and their handlers, without your support. Every single volunteer we receive really does help to make a difference Ė not only through their financial contribution, but also by providing additional stimulus/activities for the elephants (and mahouts) in their daily routine and through whatever other physical assistance they are able to offer Ė something we very much hope will be evident to all those who choose to visit us in the future.

review 12 Jun 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Staying at the mohout camp and sharing their lifestyle.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

To remember that it is a completely different culture and to allow for the heat as it can take some time to adjust.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I felt that the local people got as much as we did out of this experience.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A truly unforgetable experience.

review 28 Oct 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole vacation was exciting and memorable, every day was better than the last. It was so fantastic learning how to ride and command the elephants and it was equally great spending time socialising with the mahouts and their families and being made to feel so welcome. I think my favourite thing was taking the elephants for a shower each day and also the fun I had with the mahouts.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I would advise other travelers to go with an open mind as with all traveling experiences and to really make the effort to mix with the mahouts and spend time with them - it is worth it as they are so welcoming and fun and you really get an insight into their lives.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The vacation without a doubt benefited the mahouts and their families as money went directly to them. Also financial benefits aside, they also seemed to enjoy meeting new volunteers and interacting with us as much as we did with them. The volunteers are directly involved in what happens in the elephant camp and the mahouts' daily lives so they (mahouts & elephants) are not exploited in any way and impacts on the environment are kept to a minimum.

review 13 Feb 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being so close the elephants, and actually becoming part of the community!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Stay longer than a week!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, it directly help the Mahouts and their families and keeps the elephants off the streets and out of danger.

4. Any other comments?

I went traveling for a year and have seen some amazing things, but this was the first place I really stopped long-term somewhere and got to know the people, and got involved in their lives, taught them English and learnt the culture.....!.. It really was the best thing I did on my trip! And I still miss the people very much! Thanks very much!.. And thanks to Nikki at this operator... she was really friendly, quick and quick to respond.

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