When I’m planning a trip, I don’t really care about seeing the most famous landmarks or visiting the biggest tourist attractions. I’m interested in unique experiences I won’t find anywhere else. This is why I absolutely had to go to Elefantastic Elephant Safari when I heard about it during my golden triangle tour of northern India.
Elefantastic Elephant Safari in Jaipur
Elefantastic Elephant Safari is an organisation which rescues badly treated elephants from dangerous conditions and employs skilled trainers to take care of them on a huge plot of land about 5 minutes away by car from Amer Fort in Jaipur, India. Visitors are welcome to visit the elephant farm, learn about the gentle giants and interact with them first hand – an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.
When we arrived we were shown to a stunning Asian elephant who would be our friend for the rest of the day. She was a 30-year-old pregnant female who had been rescued from a circus. As if working in a circus wasn’t bad enough, she was also blind. The founder of Elefantastic – Rahul – told us that she was having a regular treatment and it was likely she would regain her sight just in time to see her baby when she gave birth!
The day started with the elephant’s favourite pastime – eating! My boyfriend and I sat on logs next to the elephant and made her huge parcels of hay and grass which she devoured faster than we could make them. Rahul was keen to show us how gentle the elephants are by sticking his arm in our elephant’s mouth half way through feeding her. To our astonishment (and relief!) she just kept pushing his arm out of her mouth with her tongue and searching for the hay.
After our elephant was full, we were asked, “Would you like to paint her now?” We thought we’d misheard Rahul, but that’s exactly what we did next. Elephants are used in many religious ceremonies in India for which they’re usually painted and decorated in lavish jewellery. Our designs weren’t quite as elegant and refined as the traditional Indian imagery, but we had a go!
When our artistic talent had run dry, it was time to wash away the evidence and give the elephant a shower, courtesy of a giant hose. You can’t clean an elephant’s head or its back on the ground – you have to climb up on top and give it a good scrub. This was by far the best part of the day, not just for me, but for the elephant, too! It was clear to see how much she loved having her head scrubbed and being showered with icy cold water in the 40°C heat. And since I was in the firing line of the hosepipe, I didn’t have much say in the matter.
Eating, being painted and being showered by amateur elephant trainers was enough excitement for our elephant for one day, so she went off to rest whilst we were whisked away to Rahul’s mum’s house for lunch. Although she was a very kind and accommodating lady, two things stick in my mind about Rahul’s mum. 1. She didn’t speak a word of English and 2. She wouldn’t stop bringing out more food regardless of how much we begged her to stop! Thankfully, the food was delicious beyond words, so shovelling it down didn’t take too much effort.
Jaipur is one of the most popular places to visit in northern India and if you’re ever there I definitely recommend you pay a visit to Rahul and his elephants at Elefantastic Elephant Safari. Not only will you enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t find anywhere else, but you’ll also be supporting an incredible cause.