Friday, September 9, 2011

An Amazing Hike with the Elephants

Virtually every day on the project volunteers get the privilege of hiking in the jungle with our elephants. Every hike is different and it is fun to see different parts of the jungle and observe what the elephants will do on any given day. Today was one of the best hikes we have had in a few weeks, and there were many things that made it special.First of all, it was a longer hike, and it took us an hour of trekking up and down steep hills and two river crossings to find the elephants. It was also quite muddy which made the hike even more challenging and we all had mud up to our knees by the end of the day. Secondly, the part of the jungle we hiked to was amazing. There were long stalks of bamboo and a tall cliff rising up behind them. We could see across the valley to the next hill and everything was so green and lush since it is the rainy season. Thirdly, we experienced some amazing elephant behavior and wildlife activity.
The elephants were very curious about us and they made their way over to say hi when we first came upon them. Then each elephant went on their way, ripping down bamboo to eat as they went. We even saw Thong Dee, who is usually a bit antisocial, put her trunk in Boon Jan's mouth. The elephants were also very vocal and we heard a lot of rumbling and trumpeting all morning long. The most amazing part of the hike however, was hearing gibbons calling in the distance. Their call is very distinct and haunting and it was incredible to be hiking in the jungle observing elephants and hear gibbons calling off in the distance. At one point the gibbons were calling and the elephants were rumbling at the same time. It was a truly breathtaking moment and a very memorable hike overall.