If you are interested to get up close and personal with the elephants and do not mind to drive ~1.5 hours from KL , then Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre ( KGECC) might be a suitable place for you.
Suggest that before you go
1. for those that want to go on the elephant rides – Call up KGECC ( tel 09: 2790391) for reservation a few days before your trip ( especially if it’s a public holidays or school holidays) , KGECC gives out special yellow stickers for this, ( there is a limitation to the number of yellow sticker given out per day), for the regular red stickers it’s ‘lawatan sahaja, tidak dibenarkan mengikut aktiviti menunggang dan mandi bersama gajah’ – visitation only, not allowed to participate in riding and bathing activities with the elephants
2. Pack your meals if you are fussy about food because the choices are limited. There are some warongs at the sanctuary serving roti and some simple meals, drinks, air kelapa muda are available.
3. Prepare the necessary change of clothes if you plan to bath with the elephants ( yellow sticker holder only)
We packed food at Restaurant Pelita Bangsar before beginning our journey, we left KL at around 11am, we took a slow leisurely drive ( including water-breaks) and arrived at KGECC at ~ 1pm, I didn’t know that elephants were so popular, the place was very crowded ( it was a long weekend/ public holiday) , we were quite concerned about availability of the parking space inside, so we opted to park our car a bit further and had to walk ~20 minutes to the Office.
It was a surprise for me when I told the lady at the counter that I called up earlier to reserve the passes, and the lady immediately mentioned my name..oh ah..i think probably not that many people call them up for reservation guarr ( or she has a memory like an elephant ?) , but I am glad I did , for I see many families were denied the yellow stickers as the quota for the day had been filled.
We had our tarpau ( packed) lunch sitting on the grass under the hot sun due to the limitation in rest areas (there were some areas rounded up with zinc sheets apparently under renovation, which might have been rest areas (?).
After a hurried lunch, we walked back to the office area for the video presentation , the small viewing room was full ( standing area was full as well), so we walked to the area where the activities will take place later.
The crowed was loitering around waiting for something to happen, but not knowing when they are suppose to happen, and where the activities will happen ,
Anyway, after standing around for sometime, there were some excitement in the air and some elephants were led to the river by the handlers, the crowd rushed to the river banks, to catch the sight.
The highlight of the activities would be the elephant rides, dozens were queuing up for the rights. The mahout will be handling the elephants, and there are no ‘saddle’, you get to ride ‘bare back’, The expressions of the passengers were very entertaining : timid kids brawling and refusing to go on, but force by parents to do so, elderly makciks that held on so very tight to the mahouts that I am sure their husbands would have been jealous if they see that, lithe maidens with extended smiles for the cameras, good looking mat salleh couples in raybans flashing million dollar smiles, not so good looking mat sallehs, And yet, the elephants plod on, their big heads nodding, their tails swishing and the occasional wail ( objection) when their ears were pulled by the mahout.
And while the rides were going on, 2 young elephants were led around that area, and extended curious hands pet the gentle-looking creature, baby elephants look so cute ler..and they are smart too !After the handler handed it a sugar cane, which was a bit too long to be chewed..this was what it did..
And I also found out later that it’s not just the ladies that crosses their legs , this little fella does that too.. ada gaya horr…
After the ‘dry’ rides, the crowd were told to get ready for the ‘wet’ rides, where you get to bath with the elephants.
KGECC was set up by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks back in 1989 and located within the Krau Game Reserve. Entrance is free, so please donate generously to support the cause of this sanctuary .
For more details of KGECC including timetable, please click here :
For directions , please click here
Much as I applaud the cause of KGECC, and being the one suggesting the choice of this destination to spend our holiday, it was pretty hard to defend the ‘wisdom’ of driving 2 hours to Kuala Gandah and to convince my group of 17 pax that this was time well spent.
NB: Personally, it was a disappointment. a lot of improvement can be done on the management of this lah if this was to be a tourist spot promoted by the Ministry of Tourism,
there is really a very noticeable lack of information – which could have been solved with a simple B&W leaftlet with details of : the timetable , a map of where the activities are to happen, the cause of KGECC (a plead for donation can be included) some facts about elephants etc would have been nice to take home (unless the strategy is just a laid back, no-we-do-not-want-to-many-tourist to know-about-this-place, then it’s a different story lorr).