The Elephant Valley Project (EVP) is a project that began in 2007, and to cut a long story short it provides a home to elephants that have been mistreated or abused, or are no longer wanted by their owners. The project supports the surrounding local villages by providing healthcare, sponsoring children to go to school and providing jobs within the project. The project is open to people to either visit or volunteer at, and whilst it may seem expensive at $70 USD for a full day visit, you are provided with a full briefing of where your money goes. To put it simply, this organisation is not in it for the profit and the money visitors pay goes a heck of a long way in supporting the work of the EVP.
As EVP’s main focus is of course the elephants, visitors are able to spend the day observing them in their natural habitat, just being normal elephants. No riding takes place here – quite a controversial practice in this part of the world where tourists come by the bucket load in the hope of that ‘unique experience’ aboard the top of an elephant; an animal that is not designed to lug tourists around all day. Instead, you can watch as the elephants eat their way through mountains of bamboo and foliage, play in the river and have a wash.
We arrived at EVP around 8 am, where we had the briefing. Following this, we made our way into the valley beneath us and caught our first sighting of the beautiful animals. Having never seen an elephant before (I would not ride one and am not a fan of keeping animals in cages at the zoo) it was quite something to see them so close. We spent some time with the ellies, wandering through the dense trees and hopping stone to log across rivers. An ascent followed back to the top of the valley, then back down a different valley to base camp. We relaxed, ate delicious veggie curry and had a siesta on the hammocks. A well needed rest after trekking for a few hours!
The afternoon saw us descend back down into yet another valley, where we observed a different herd of elephants. A few hours later we made our way back to the top, knackered yet very happy to have seen such wonderful creatures being treated so well.
If you are heading to Sen Monorom and hoping to see elephants, it is absolutely worth considering the EVP. Whilst, yet, there are cheaper outfits in the town, we learned that pretty much 100% of these elephants are mistreated. It is worth paying more to be able to quietly observe such wild animals in their natural habitat. Just be advised, booking is advised!