The world's best elephant adventures

From Botswana to Laos, here are the amazing places where you can watch, ride and even bathe these giant pachyderms


Megan Cytron
July 31, 2011 11:01PM (UTC)

Elephants, when left unencumbered (which they seldom are these days), are great travelers. During the dry season, a herd can migrate hundreds of miles in search of food and water. While they once freely roamed much of the earth, wild elephants are -- for better and for worse -- now mostly restricted to vast national parks and reserves where fences and vigilance forge a fragile détente between the world's largest land animals and their human neighbors. Encouraging tourism in places like this is tricky, but potentially quite beneficial when it is implemented in a way that fosters economic alternatives to poaching, deforestation and exploitation.

Then there are the elephant parks and rides. Our species has been keeping these highly intelligent giants in captivity for millennia for use as soldiers, transportation, beasts of burden and now tourist attractions. There's a movement -- particularly in Southeast Asia -- to transition domesticated and injured elephants to ethically run sanctuaries where they are well cared for and can meander in relative peace to the delight of visitors. (Beware, though; many "rescue centers" don't live up to the name.)

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Megan Cytron

MORE FROM Megan Cytron


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