When thinking about India, few animals, if any, spring to mind faster than the majestic elephant. For centuries these beautiful creatures have been adored by Indian people and use in many different ways to support their way of life.
Upon deciding to visit India with my friend, Tracey, we were both determined to hunt out a local company that would allow us to spend time with these general giants in an ethical way. This is precisely what we found when we stumbled across Elefantastic.
Rahul, the founder of the company opened Elefantastic in 2012 out of a desire to ensure the Indian elephants were well cared for. With a long history as an elephant rider and an even longer family history of working with them (his daughter will be 5th generation!), there is no doubt that he has an innate understanding of what his elephants need and his love for them shines through in everything he does.
From the delicious home cooked lunch (made with care by his mum no less) to the constant supply of ice-cold drinks on offer, the team are on hand every step of the way to ensure your day is amazing.
When you’re introduced to your elephant, you’ll spend some time learning about what they like to eat before being taught how to bundle up a food package for them. Then off you set to work feeding and patting them in a bid to gain their trust.
Once you’ve finished feeding and snuggling the elephants, the natural paints are brought out (elephant friendly, of course) and off you’ll set, painting them up in bright, bold patterns. This process is unique to the area of Rajasthan and dates back centuries to when elephants were decorated for special occasions.
I had grandiose ideas as to just how gorgeous my elephant-for-the-day would look but in reality, it was much harder to paint Shaku than I had imagined. Elephants are always on the go and their constant movement, combined with their rough skin, makes it difficult to get good coverage and clear lines from the paint – with that said, we had a tremendous time trying!
Once the elephants are painted up and looking even more beautiful than normal, the option is given to ride these giants bareback, followed by a splash about with the hose.
The elephants absolutely loved playing around in the water; filling their trunks, they playfully squirted themselves (and anyone else in their vicinity) time and time again. The pure joy we witnessed was a real pleasure to be a part of.
The centre currently has twenty four elephants and at most, half of them are with guests each day. This ensures they always get at least a day off in between visitors to enjoy the things elephants like to do most. When the ellies are with guests, much of the time is spent feeding and washing, key parts of their everyday routine, ensuring they live a happy and relatively natural life. Of course, they’re not in the wild, but as these elephants were born in captivity they are reliant upon human care, and they certainly are well cared for!
From the moment we were picked up in our complimentary air conditioned car (which was a real treat in itself after riding around in rickshaws so often) to arriving back at our accommodation, we were treated like long lost friends… And who better to make friends with than someone who has the pleasure of caring for 24 elephants?!
If you too would like to spend the day getting to know your very own elephant, bookings can be made directly with Rahul at Elefantastic – be sure it’s him you’re booking through as there are other operators in the area that don’t meet the same high standard in elephant care. Oh and while you’re there, give Shaku a big pat from us!
Pin the following image to come back to this post later…
Thank you to Rahul and the team at Elefantastic for having us along as their guests. As always, all thought are our own. Don’t take our word for it though – check out the other awesome feedback they receive on TripAdvisor!
If you’re worried about the treatment of these elephants, don’t be. The team genuinely do an amazing job and you are given the choice to ride them or not. At most, each elle is ridden for 45mins, every second day and only ever bareback. If you have any questions about the care of these beautiful creatures, Rahul and his team are more than happy to discuss your queries directly.