Wow, Am I glad I booked this enlightening journey to Sri Lanka to work with these amazing gentle giants.
I had never travelled alone before but Travellers Worldwide were there to advise and help me through every step of the process. Not once did I feel alone, I was well informed and felt very safe in their capable hands.
I have loved Elephants since I was a little girl and it was a life long dream to be close to them and interact with them. I was not disappointed! My first sight of the 80 or so Elephants bathing in the river was a very emotional, happy and almost dream-like experience. Little did I know this trip was to get even better!
It was quite hard work at times as we spent the mornings of our work days mucking out the Elephant sheds and as you can imagine there is ALOT of mucking out to do, but the Mahouts we were working with became like friends and we all had a great laugh as we worked.
The afternoons were alot more relaxed and so rewarding as we met the Mahouts down by the river where we played with the Ellys and washed them! These were my favourite moments by far. A couple of little tips for anyone wishing to do this extraordinary project...
1) When washing an Elly that is lying down in the water, watch out for their trunk as they like to tickle your feet when your not looking!
2) When sitting at the river edge. My favourite Elly Saboo is very loveable and likes to stand with you. She loves to be tickled and stroked. Make sure you tickle the roof of her mouth - she LOVES this!
You will see some amazing sights here as Elephants really are clever and each have amazing characters and traits. A few funny things I saw were an Elly trying his best to balance a log on this head, the little ones play fighting by nudging each other off the rocks they were trying to balance on, the little ones also playfully charging at one another, the females chasing a very handsome looking male Elly, not to mention the sight of them all putting their trunks in the air and rumbling, trumpeting and even squeaking!
I would also like to add how amazing the Sri Lankan staff are that lived with us in the house, nothing was too much. They helped us plan our weekend trips, cooked us amazing traditional Sri Lankan food and generally took care of us the whole time. I feel truely blessed to of lived with them and the other fantastic volunteers that I shared the experience with.
Sri Lanka as a country I found eye-opening, it is so different to the Western world, and makes me feel grateful for what I have. It is great to experience another culture first-hand. If you book this project - and I strongly advise you do - I would suggest you take mostly old clothes and shoes to work in and on your last day leave them there as there are so many Sri Lankan women, men and children that would be so grateful for them.
The Pinnawala Orphanage are doing extraordinary work and I feel so priviledged to of been apart of it. They have given home and a fantastic life to orphaned Elephants who otherwise may have not survived. I strongly advise you help the vet out on his daily rounds as you will see first hand the amazing work they do to help these Ellys and keep them healthy. This orphange provides home to elephants young and old, blind and even 3-legged. Nothing is too much trouble for them and I cannot stress enough how enlightening this trip was for me, it changed my life and I WILL be going back soon.