Visiting Care Camp for Retired Timber Elephants in Kalaw
The best thing I did in Myanmar was to take a bus and travel for 10 hours to spend some time in an elephant sanctuary. This amazing place in Kalaw, Myanmar, called Green Hill Valley Elephant Sanctuary.
Green Hill Valley Elephant Sanctuary
After spending one day exploring Kalaw and Kakku, I took one entire day to visit the elephant sanctuary. I woke up quite early for a delicious breakfast and then got in the car and headed to Green Hill Valley, it was a 45 minutes’ drive, and the road was fantastically beautiful with many gorgeous mountains and valleys. It was mind-blowing because I was listening to meaningful music and the view was just there, beautifully harmonizing the moment. It was just like a relaxing time for my mind and soul. I could evaluate everything that was going on and be so thankful for everything I have. God has been better, way better than good to me.
When we got the sanctuary, we found some SASers. We had a briefing about the Valley and the projects with the elephants. The main goal is to preserve and save old elephants, that once were mistreated and used for various things. Most of the elephants in Myanmar and South East Asian are almost extinct, so they preserve as many as they can. They have around 9 elephants and have the goal to expand and perhaps one day have more elephants, and work with other organizations.
After the briefing, they give us sun protector, repellent, and lemonade because it was very hot. After all the welcoming, they divided us into groups of 8 or more people and we walk down, where they had some plantations and then we met the first 2 elephants, they said their names and we started feeding them with vegetables and fruits. Most of the elephants were females and old, very old. Around 47 to 65 years old, but they were so lovely and hungry. Elephants eat around 5kg of food every day.
In the beginning I was very scared, and I could not get too close, but after 10 to 20 minutes, I was pouring the food right on their mouths and playing with them. Their skin had an interesting texture but very exquisite too.
Care and Treatment
I kissed an elephant… it was like the happiest moment of my life. I know it sounds crazy but kissing an elephant has been in my bucket list for a few years, and doing it was a very satisfying moment. After petting and feeding the first elephants, we went on the other side of the Valley and we met the main vet and he was one of the coolest and more handsome old man I have met that day. One side note about Burmese old men – they are extremely handsome. He was wise and what made me love him was the fact that he treated all the elephant’s diseases with natural products extracted from the forest. He rarely uses chemical solution and if he does, he uses the chemicals that do not harm or have many side effects onto the elephants.
After learning so much about elephants and the differences between an African elephant and an Asian elephant, we went to feed other elephants and meet the only male and young elephant that is on the valley. He was full of life and you could distinguish him from the other elephants because he was very young and full of energy.
Now it was time to bath the elephant. The people from the Green Valley provided us with appropriated clothes to bath with those beautiful creatures. The bath took place in a small waterfall. Also, they provide the natural shampoo used to bath the elephant and then we started washing him. The water was freezing, but the fact that we were giving bath to an elephant was enough to help us forget the crazy temperature of the water, and then our body just adjusted to it. It was a fun time to play with him. It was clear that elephants love water.
After lunch they took us to the part where they recycle the elephant poop into paper, yes, there is an elephant poop paper, and I loved how they recycle everything and made good things out of it. They gave me a poop paper and I used as my Myanmar post card (lol). The paper was made with the elephant poop, water, and a chemical solution. The production process takes about 1 to 2 days, and then they dry it on the sun. Furthermore, the paper is softened in a machine and cut in square pieces. It is sold, and the money is used for the preservation of the elephants and the population around that Valley.
By the end of the day, I was extremely exhausted, but very happy and full of life again. Surely, I fell in love with that beautiful city, its weather, and the amazing work they do with the elephant preservation.
The package to interact with the elephants is $100 for the entire day and all the activities included (lunch is included too). Here is their website for more information: http://ghvelephant.com