...because they won't forget you!
Elephants hold significant cultural and religious importance for a number of communities in India. One of the most widely visible examples of this significance is the depiction of the Hindu deity Ganesha, who is embodied with the wise head of an elephant. Representations of Ganesha are scattered throughout the shops, restaurants and public spaces of India and since he’s associated with removing obstacles and fresh starts, he’s a welcome image to see around. The deity Indra also travels on an elephant, so it’s not unlikely that you will see elephants outside temples as you travel around different cities in India - they are frequently included in traditional celebrations and festival practices.
One of the best places to see elephants in their home during your visit is in Karnataka. There are roughly 6000 jumbo elephants living in the wild in this state - that’s more than a quarter of the total number of wild elephants in India by conservative estimates. Plenty of elephant sanctuaries throughout Southern India provide more intimate elephant experiences, including allowing you to take part in feeding and bathing an elephant - a bonding experience unlike any other.
We take care to ensure that the sites we visit are as friendly to elephants as possible. We advise against taking elephant rides since this can frequently only be facilitated through intense “training” of the elephants, which usually acts against their welfare.
There are two features that will easily help you tell the difference: the ears and the back. An Indian elephant’s ears are smaller than its face, while an African elephant’s ears look a bit more like Dumbo’s; an easy way to remember this is to think that India is obviously smaller than Africa. The backs of Indian elephants are either flat or convex (curved upwards), whereas African elephants’ have a bit of a dip in the middle.
Let us know what your priorities are when planning your trip so that we can ensure that your visit is as meaningful for you as possible - whether that’s spending a whole day immersed in an elephant sanctuary community or just stopping off at a wildlife reserve to see if you can catch sight of a family in the wild - we will do our best to plan the most appropriate itinerary for your preferences
Which animals are you most excited to see on your visit? Maybe you’ve been to South Asia before and have some favourite creatures you’d like to spot again? Let us know!