Retired Burmese Elephants

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More from InsideVietnam's Enfys on her recent trip to Burma; here she describes her time making friends with elephants at the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp!

For the past couple of weeks I have been exploring Burma, and one of my most memorable days was spent hanging out with the Elephants at the wonderful Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, which is home to 7 retired tree logging Elephants and each of their personal Mahout families.

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Found deep in the valley the far side of Kalaw we took a steep and winding road down from the mountain to the camp. The scenery along the way spectacular, and even though I was there in April (the height of the dry season) the landscape was beautiful with lush banana trees and other jungly types of vegetation lining the roadside.

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On arrival I had an amazing lunch overlooking the canopy and listening to the chirruping birds.

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After which I spent an afternoon feeding, bathing and riding the elephants - it was beyond wonderful! The English speaking guide was able to describe the close relationship each elephant had with its personal mahout, the way each elephant would listen to only its own master, and the trust and care the two had for one another. Learning too about where the elephants had come from, and how the camp saw to protect the elephants, and re-forest the local area as part of their eco-project. The 'tourist' side of the organisation provided means to pay for the food, care (vet bills for these huge creatures is not cheap!), the mahout's simple homes, and the opening of a local school for the mahout's children.

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I had a great time and spent a couple of hours just enjoying the company of the elephants - as April is 'low' season there was not a single other tourist there which in my opinion is a fantastic reason to travel at this time of year! Yes it was hot, amazingly hot in fact (around 39 - 42 degrees C) but this was a small compromise for such a fantastic and personal experience. (Also, as I was in the river with the elephants and therefore soaking wet, I didn't notice the heat!)

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What a fabulous day in Burma!

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