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“A must-do in Cambodia and a donation for a good cause!”

Elephant Valley Project
Ranked #2 of 20 things to do in Sen Monorom
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Elephant Valley Project is an elephant sanctuary in Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia. Here we rescue and retire captive working Asian elephants and slowly rehabilitate them back to their natural habitat within our 650 hectare grounds. If you are heading to Cambodia and have some free time then it is well worth heading over to us and checking out our herd of elephants. Day trips usually involve two walks through the forest learning about these amazing creatures, with a buffet lunch overlooking the forest canopy.Please be aware that we don't ride elephants, as we consider it unnecessary. Accommodation is also available for people who are staying two or more days.
Kristiansand, Norway
Level Contributor
84 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“A must-do in Cambodia and a donation for a good cause!”
Reviewed November 19, 2013

After reading about this place on the internet I decided it seemed the best place to experience elephants in their natural environment. I was sceptical to the "elephant riding treks" that are advertised all over the country and wanted to make sure my money was used for the good of the elephants and not to exploit them for tourist money.
Yes this place is expensive at 70$ for a day with the elephants (or 40$ if you do volunteering) but I looked at it as money well spent for a good cause. The 25$ you spend for a 2hr elephant ride goes into the pockets of the locals and you can never be sure whether that elephant is working 10 hr days, was caught in the jungle as a baby for the purpose of making money on it, and broken down for one year to be "trained" to become a money-maker. This is not a practice I would want to support. I am sure there are some responsible locals that do not overwork their elephants, but how can you make sure?
The EVP is a fantastic project. They spend their money on making the life of domesticated elephants in Cambodia better, they give back to the local community by providing health care and they help protect the remaining wild elephant population by protecting the forests in the surrounding area.
We stayed in Tree Lodge guesthouse, and upon arrival we told him we were going to the EVP the next day (even though we had not booked it yet). He told us he was very much against them as they are overpriced, run by foreigners and all the money they make goes into the pocket of the very rich british owner. He tried to convince us that they are bad for the local economy, and he also said that the reason that they have such good reviews on tripadvisor is because they talk to you about all the good things they do, but that everything they tell you are lies. I asked him if he had been there to check it out himself and he said "of course I have!!" I asked Jemma at EVP and she said she knows very well who he is and he has never been there. We also got into a moral discussion when it comes to the elephants, but he did not seem to get the point that elephants are actually living and breathing individuals with feelings like us, and all he cares about is the "local" economy - ie his own pocket... He then proceeded to tell me that I do not have enough education to have an opinion on the subject... without knowing anything about me.. ahhem, I have worked and studied animals since I was 17 years old and I am an experienced doctor of veterinary medicine.. nuff said..
So I am sure I know who to believe, definitely the NGO that tries to work with conservation of the wild elephants, understand the needs of the domesticated elephants while working with the local community to create sustainable tourism. When you go there it is just obvious to anyone that what they are doing is a good thing, its a no-brainer.
So.. Our day in EVP started with finding the elephants in the valley. They walked over to the river to bathe, so we got to throw water on them which was fun. We could touch them when they walked past, while showing respect for them. After washing they decided to go into the mud and throw it all over themselves, then into the jungle to eat bamboo the rest of the morning. Nobody told them what to do. We just got to walk with them while chatting to Gemma who has loads of information about the elephants and the project.
Lunch was buffet style, and good. Then there was 1hr of relaxation time in the hammocks and chairs, and then we got to scrub the elephants in a cleaning station (these were different elephants than the ones in the morning). They were brought to the cleaning station by mahouts, so in one way told what to do, but they really seemed to enjoy the scrubbing and hosing. There was a lot of throwing around buckets of water and we got very wet and muddy but it was so much fun. After that we got to feed them chunks from banana-trees.
The people that did the half-day volunteering had to pull nails out of wood for 3 hours, so I think our choice of paying more to spend time with the elephants was the right one.
One of the other visitors told me she had done the elephant-riding in Laos, but said that the EVP was a much better experience as you actually get to see what the elephants are doing naturally. They are domesticated elephants, so unfortunately they have to be chained at night (30m chain in the jungle so they can eat all night, which they do! They only sleep for 2-3 hours!). If they let them loose at night they would go into the villages and eat crops from the locals, as they associate humans with food. It makes sense!
All in all - GO THERE and learn about the elephants!! Donate your money to a good cause!! Do NOT listen to the locals who are only looking after their own pockets.

Visited November 2013
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7 Thank Torunn B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience”
Reviewed November 19, 2013

We spent a whole day at the EVP in November. It was an amazing experience being able to see the elephants and the passionate comittment that the EVP team have towards them. The organisation work hard to support local communities and I felt it was well worth the $70 . There is a little bit of walking, some of it a bit steep to get to the elephants but both my mum and my aunt who are in their late sixties managed it without problem. Group sizes are limited which is nice, I felt like we got to know everyone by the end of the day. Lunch was provided along with an afternoon siesta which after a rather early start was very welcome! We traveled to Mondulkiri specifically to visit this project and I am so glad that we did. Would strongly recommend to anyone visiting Cambodia.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Bronnerz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Amazing experience”
Reviewed November 12, 2013

We had a half day with the elephants and half day volunteering. We got what we paid for. It was wonderful to see the elephants in the "heaven" and we were told their stories. We are deaf and were a bit worried of missing information but they had a friendly guide and a volunteer who helped us a lot. A wonderful project and we are very impressed by the people who working for the elephants. We are very satisfied.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank EmeliaN2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ghent, Belgium
Level Contributor
72 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“An idealistic project, with some passionate people would”
Reviewed November 11, 2013

Due to some governmental problems our overnight stay was cancelled so we had the one day experience. You could notice there was a bit of chaos and stress because of these problems. The trip from sen monorom to the evp was in a minivan with 14people, a bit crowdy :-). After telling some history and safety rules, we went walking in the forest with a family of elephants in their natural habitat and see them wash, eat and walk. Some of them even came to say hellow and wanted to be touched.

After this, there was a very good lunch (buffet and more than enough!) at basecamp and a moment to rest. In the afternoon we chose to help washing the elephants instead of pulling nails out old planks for reusing them. After one hour all the elephants had been washed and we got to see another family on the plain hills. unfortunately for us the elephant family had other plans and there was only one elephant, quite disappointing, especially because the guide didn't try very hard looking for the rest of the family.

After all , quite the experience, but 70$ a day is a lot of money. They support also the local community, so i think the money is well spent (however i dont believe many people would pay much more).

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
Thank silasrydant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great Organization!”
Reviewed October 4, 2013

Definitely worth a visit! These people are very passonite about what they do, and they are doing great work and supporting the sustainability of the entire area and people there!

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Brad M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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