Elephant Express

A short, thick branch slaps across its hairy hide and we’re off. Max and I are on-board the largest vessel from the trip so far, larger even, than the giant camel Bob Marley, we’re on an Elephant.

The last time I was in India, Flash and I went to an elephant sanctuary near the Periyar Tiger Reserve and it was fantastic. The Elephants lived in glorious surroundings, were free to roam around their paddocks and really seemed to enjoy life.

We’d gone on a ride through some of Kerala’s finest terrain (lush forest, babbling wildlife, gurgling streams), we’d washed and fed them and even been washed by them (see picture) – so, I was rather disappointed to arrive in what looked like a building site, in which rested (or rather were chained to metal poles) five uncomfortably hot Elephants.

Walking towards these tethered beasts, I wondered why they weren’t looking at us with normal animal inquisitiveness – looking at their eyes I realised. Like cloudy days, their eyes were contaminated with cataracts.

Turning around wasn’t going to achieve anything. So, though saddened by the animals plight, I didn’t leave – I got on. We both did. Our walk didn’t consist of a trek through beautiful scenery, no, we shelled out 800 rupees to walk 50 metres up, and 50 metres back, one of Varkala’s particularly boring backstreets.

Smack, the branch whacks for the final time and we turn back into the yard. Dismount.

Periyar Tiger Reserve

Washing the Elephant

And vice versa…

Varkala’s Equivalent


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