South India offers a unique opportunity to experience the majestic elephants up close, serving as sanctuaries for their care, protection, and rehabilitation. These 7 elephant camps and sanctuaries in south india are essential centres for conservation and rescue efforts, often housing elephants that have been rescued from injury or orphaned at a young age. State Forest Departments play a vital role in implementing broad measures to safeguard elephants and prevent unlawful activities that endanger their numbers. The Oscar-winning documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” tells the captivating story of Bomman and Bellie, an indigenous couple entrusted with the care of Raghu, an orphaned infant Indian elephant.
1. Sakrebyle Elephant Camp, located 14 kilometres from Shivamogga, is a dedicated elephant training and conservation camp that offers visitors the opportunity to interact with the elephants on a personal level. The camp is situated near the Tunga River, where elephants bathe on the banks of the Gajanur Dam Backwaters. Visitors can enjoy activities such as elephant feeding sessions and bathing experiences, allowing them to admire and bond with these majestic creatures. The timings of the camp are from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. The entry fee to the camp is ₹50 per person, and an additional fee of ₹100 per individual applies for those wishing to participate in the elephant bathing activity.
2. Dubare Elephant Camp, located in the scenic Dubare Forest on the banks of the river Kaveri, plays a vital role in conserving and protecting elephants in Karnataka. The camp offers a range of activities, including elephant interaction, elephant bathing, and safari. The best time to visit Dubare Elephant Camp is during the post-monsoon season, which runs from October to March. Dubare Elephant Camp entry timings are from 9 AM to 11 AM and 4:30 to 6:30 PM. The entry charge is ₹100 per person. There is an extra cost of ₹250 if you want to participate in the elephant bathing activity.
3. Phansoli Elephant Camp, situated within the Kali Tiger Reserve in Phansoli, is a great tourist attraction in the region. The camp’s skilled and experienced mahouts share unique elephant insights, making the trip even more enjoyable. The camp is regarded as a great tourist attraction in Phansoli and is only 10.5 km from the famed Kabini River Lodges. Entry timings are from 8 AM to 9 AM in the morning and 5 PM to 6 PM in the evening with an entry charge of ₹ 50 for adults and ₹ 25 for children.
4. Balle Elephant Camp, located in Balle, Kabini, in the beautiful Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka, offers visitors the opportunity to interact with majestic elephants in their natural habitat. The camp provides daily baths, feeding, and release of the gentle giants into the untamed forests.
5. Harangi Elephant Camp, situated in Kushalnagar, Karnataka, is a recently established facility that houses a limited number of elephants shifted from Dubare. The camp offers a serene and less-crowded alternative to the popular Dubare Elephant Camp. This new elephant camp is nestled alongside the Harangi reservoir. The camp is open in the morning from 9 AM to 11 AM and in the evening from 4 PM to 6 PM, with an entry ticket of ₹ 50 per person.
6. Theppakadu Elephant Camp, located in Mudumalai National Park, is a popular tourist spot due to the Academy Award-winning documentary ‘The Elephant Whisperers’. Established in 1923, the camp houses 24 elephants and serves as a training and rehabilitation centre for these majestic creatures. The camp’s daily routine includes an hour-long bath at the Moyar River, followed by breakfast and a relaxing day at the camp. The feed mainly consists of ragi, rice, jaggery, and coconut. Visitors can visit the camp from 8:30 – 9:00 AM and 5:30 – 6:00 PM, with an entry fee of ₹ 25 per person.
7. Punnathur Kotta Elephant Sanctuary, located near Guruvayoor temple in Thrissur, Kerala, is a peaceful and beautiful place for elephant lovers. With around 40 elephants, visitors can observe them cleaning and feeding, as well as take photos and videos. The park is managed by the Guruvayur Devasam Board and offers food, treatment, and proper care for elephants. The Punnathur Kotta is a must-visit destination for families and children, providing a safe and nurturing environment for feeding and resting the elephants. The timing of the camp is from 8 AM to 5 PM on all days of the week, with an entry fee of ₹ 25 per individual.
In summary, South India offers a unique opportunity to experience majestic elephants up close.