Although Cambodia is best known for its temples, such as the legendary heritage of Angkor Wat, the Kingdom is also blessed with vast undiscovered natural beauty. EcoTourism in Cambodia attracts increasing number of travellers to the country and we are very happy to present the Elephant Valley Project. It is situated in the Mondulkiri Province, near the Vietnam border.
The Elephant Valley Project
Situated 11km from the town of Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia, near the border of Vietnam, the Elephant Valley Project Sanctuary is an initiative of an NGO called the Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (E.L.I.E).
The Elephant Valley Project is a sanctuary set up for to provide a safe location away from the villages to treat sick and injured elephants. In return, the project generates local employment and is an ecotourism site for international and local visitors.
In the provincial parts of the Kingdom, elephants are used for commercial usage and are often treated. The Sanctuary was setup for these majestic animals to be looked after in an environment familiar to them. The Sanctuary is a series of inter-connected farms that is surrounded by forest.
SHINING EXAMPLE OF ECOTOURISM IN CAMBODIA
The objective, as per the EVP website, is to simulate the same environment that mahouts (caretakers) look after their elephants. Not only that, but also to provide a large area of forest for elephants to escape human activity for the longest period of time possible.
Mahouts who bring their elephants here are paid a competitive working wage to retire their elephants full-time to the forest. Mahouts continue to work with their respective elephants, feeding and caring for them and making sure they are as content as possible. The elephants, for their part, can spend their days blasting through the forest in search of food and hanging out by the river spraying mud on one another.
Visitors are not allowed to ride the elephants here. Instead, you simply walk through the forest with them and observe them in their element. In the process you learn about not only elephant behaviour but also local culture and forest ecology.
Visitors can visit for day trips or longer stays. There, they get to experience meeting with local families and learning about the forest, community, conservation and of course the elephants themselves. The Sanctuary offers multiple options for visitors. They give the possibility to stay on to volunteer and assist the project teams in caring for the elephants.
There are a handful of overnight options available to visitors. They range from backpacker dorm rooms, private rooms to exquisite bungalows tucked into the jungle on a ridge overlooking the valley.
The cost ranges from USD55 for day trip with volunteering to USD455 for an exotic 5D/5N immersion experience. The Sanctuary runs periodical specials so you are advised to check their website or facebook page.
The Sanctuary is an excellent initiative by some very dedicated people and means well for the lovely animals and the community that fosters them. The Elephant Valley Project is quite popular and therefore its advisable to book early as the entry to the premises is strictly controlled. However, when you do land there, you will have a guaranteed amazing experience that will stay with you forever.
To visit the sanctuary, you can take direct buses from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri for a 6-7 hour journey.
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