While I was making a list of the things that I wanted to do in I found out that there is an Elephant Sanctuary and hour or two north-east of Kuala Lumpur. I mentioned it to a coworker and be both decided that we had to go. Unfortunately our friends that have cars were less enthusiastic about our trip which meant that we’d have to figure out how to get there using public transit. After looking at a few other blogs, a lot of bus schedules and calling the sanctuary to make sure they’d be open on the public holiday, we were set to go. Since it was pretty challenging to find out any information about this place and how to get there I’m going to detail what we did and how much it cost in case you are ever struck by the desire to go!
When I called to see if they were open they told me that it would be good to get there around noon. So we wanted to get an early start just in case we ended up on the wrong bus or something. We took an Uber from Mont Kiara to Pekeliling Station around 8am to try to catch the 9am bus going towards Lanchang. Our bus’ final destination was Temerloh but it stopped in Lanchang and the signs for the bus said both cities. I researched ahead of time that both the KKKL Express and the Budaya Express went to Lanchang but when we got to the bus station Express Omnibus was the first place we saw with a bus going in the right direction so we jumped on it. We got to Lanchang at about 10:30am.
This is where things got interesting. We were dropped off at a bus stop in this very very small town with very few people who spoke English. I really wish I had taken a picture on the area we were in! Once off the bus, a local man was yelling towards us. Apparently he sits there and waits for people to get off of the bus stop. He walked up to us with a brochure for the Elephant Sanctuary, signing and talking in broken English that he would drive us there and back for RM 60. It’s about 20 minutes away from the bus stop. There’s not a cab in sight. I tried to haggle with the man but I think he knew that we didn’t really have another option. So RM 60 it was. But not before getting our return tickets and checking to see when we needed to be on the bus back to KL.
There a market a little ways up from the bus stop that sells the return ticket to KL. We got our tickets for the 4pm bus and jumped in the guys’ car to head up to the elephants. We ended up at the sanctuary around 11am, probably way earlier than necessary and our driver told us that he’d be back to pick us up at 3pm. We walked around the huge grounds of the sanctuary, grabbed a snack and some drinks at the cafe and kept seeing signs that had elephants on them with arrows that didn’t actually lead us to any elephants.
Finally we headed down this hill that lead to a bunch of elephants in stables (I guess that’s what you’d call them). We feed them a bunch of sugar cane which you could buy for RM 3 a bunch. They are huge animals and a lot of them looked like they had gone through some abuse. The video they show as part of the tour sheds some light on why the sanctuary exists.
Palm oil farmers in Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia are taking over parts of the jungle to plant more crops. This invades the elephant’s habitat and pushes them into smaller and smaller areas. Then the elephants come back to what was once their home and destroy the farmers’ crops. The farmers then shoot the elephants to stop them from raiding the crops. The Malaysian government tries to relocate the animals rather than stopping the farmers from destroying the elephants’ habitat in the first place. It is really sad. I don’t know if these animals are treated well in the sanctuary, but I do know that they are safer there than being hunted by the farmers.
Anyways, enough of that sad stuff. When you visit the sanctuary you can watch the video and feed the animals and I think even watch their little show for free (or by donation). If you want to go into the water with the elephants you have to pay extra. They also offer some jungle trekking packages but I don’t remember how much they cost. We paid to go in the water with the baby elephant, which I honestly think made the whole trip worth it. They are so soft and actually really hairy. When you touch the baby’s skin and are standing next to it, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain but you can almost feel how powerful this animal is. I just felt in awe of it.
Random note: If you want to get in the water be smarter than I was and bring a change of clothes!
The elephant is so cute though, it will spray you with water. Although I think the staff of the sanctuary has more fun with it, they definitely sprayed us with more water than the elephant did. It was hilarious. By the time we got out of the water we were soaking wet and it was already 3:05. Whoops! We were supposed to meet our driver at 3! Luckily we mentioned to our guide that we were supposed to leave at 3 and he tried to make sure we were in the front of the line so that we could still get in the water. We ran, literally, ran, back up the hill to the parking lot. While dripping wet. And on an elephant high. Haha. Luckily we got up there and he wasn’t there yet. The smartest of us changed into her dry clothes while I tried to dry off as much as possible with my scarf. As we were in the bathroom our driver came and we ran out and got in the car.
We were back at the bus stop around 3:30 and went to the market to pick up some food. There are really not many restaurants or food stalls in this city! We needed to use the restroom and luckily the guy who worked at the market let us use his, meaning the one in his home that was connected to the back of the market. Such kindness! Meanwhile a woman starts yelling that our bus is there! And were across the street still using the bathroom! Apparently the 4 pm bus comes at 3:45! The driver told our friends that were sitting at the bus stop that he was actually the 3:00 bus and was just running late, that the 4:00 bus would be there soon and then he drove away. We came back out and asked the guy working at the market when the next bus was and he said 4:45…. An hour later we got on the 4:45 bus. Ah! But we made it back to KL safe and sound!
It was a pretty awesome day trip that I would definitely recommend to anybody who’s in the area and has time to go up there. Just be sure to be flexible and possibly a little spontaneous!
National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC)
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP/PERHILITAN)
Kuala Gandah, 28500 Lanchang
Pahang Darul Makmur
Tel: 013-9790272 Counter: 013-9088207
Cost of the trip: (not including food, or the large amount of snacks we brought on the bus with us)
Uber from Mont Kiara to Pekeliling Station RM 12
Bus to Lanchang RM 10.40
Our local driver, from the bus stop in Lanchang to the sanctuary and back RM 60
Feeding the Elephants RM 9
Bathing with the Elephants RM 50 (for a guide) + RM 10 per person
Bus from Lanchang to KL RM 10.40
Cab from Pekeliling Station to Mont Kiara RM 13
Total RM 174.80 (about $40)
Since we split everything and there was four of us I probably actually spent around RM 68 ($16) again, not including food, which is pretty cheap anyways.