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LEAF Cambodia Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary
Review Highlights
Great day with the elephants

I’ve really enjoyed a day visit to this sanctuary. Started with a walk through the jungle followed... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
London, United Kingdom
via mobile
A wonderful day

We were picked up at our guesthouse. It was a little disappointing because the website said that... read more

Reviewed 14 August 2018
Charles D
Le Havre, France
via mobile
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All reviews traditional hut the river day tour surrounding villages sugar cane natural environment farming methods walking freely female elephants small trek spoke good english special moment local culture natural behaviour money goes overnight stay tasty lunch
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Reviewed 11 November 2015

I did the 2D1N jungle trek & Elephant tour with the L.E.A.F Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary for $75.

I chose this trek because it was important to me that I support an organization which hired local guides, treated the elephants well, and was eco-friendly. I wanted to have a mix of trekking, learning about Bunong life and culture, and elephant time. As a budget traveler, it also needed to be affordable!

I would say that this tour ticked the boxes, but didn't go above and beyond. It has the potential to be great, and I hope with some more time it will develop into a unique and successful attraction.

I was in a group of 3 plus our Bunong guide. He was very friendly and pleasant, and I was impressed with his English proficiency as he has only been learning it for a year! He has plenty of knowledge about the jungle plants and animals, and obviously Bunong life since he is from a nearby Indigenous village! He worked extremeley hard, doing all the cooking (using a traditional method with bamboo over a wood fire), cleaning, setting up camp, and guiding.

I found the jungle trek to be very nice- lots of variety in scenery, beautiful waterfalls (including one to swim in!), and interesting stops at Indigenous homes and farms along the way. It was challenging for my 2 compantions who were in their 60's and one was out of shape, and found it very difficult. The trail can be steep and slippery for sections, so I don't reccommend it for everyone. The 22km took all day, but I think that was due to our slower pace.

The sleeping arrangement was more rustic than I expected- basically a small sheltered structure where we set up a tent for the couple, and the guide and I slept in our own hammocks. It was comfortable (though a little chilly- wear layers), and for those that like camping it is great! Be warned, there are no toilets, only bushes :)
Germaphobes should note that dishes are washed in the small river, the same river we later washed the elephants in, and swam in!

There was a lot of downtime, so it might be a nice idea to bring a book.

The time spent with the elephants on the second day was nice, but I was disappointed that they were herded around with sticks, and we were invited to climb on top of them and ride them a short ways after bathing them. I had hoped that as a sanctuary it would allow the elephants more natural beahviours, and that they would not be ridden and driven around for the benefit of us tourists. I would have been happier to just watch them do their own thing. It also would have been nice to hear more about their histories, and the company's goals and projects. I also noticed a few of the staff littering (cigarette butts, scrap paper), and felt maybe the organization could do a better job educating and training for the eco aspect of things.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the tour, though I think there is room for improvement. I spoke with another traveler afterwards who did a very similar tour with The Mondulkiri Project, which was cheaper, treated the elephants better, and is beginning an elephant breeding program as well...as much as I was happy to support this tour, that one probably would have been closer to what I was hoping for, and would have gone that route if I had known about it before I booked.

Date of experience: November 2015
Thank Jill C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sokha s, Manager at LEAF Cambodia Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary, responded to this reviewResponded 18 November 2015

Hi Jill C

We are writing to thank you again for coming to visit our local conservation project and for your kind contribution to the communities, wildlife & elephants that depend on it.

It sounds like someone had made you feel ""the grass was greener elsewhere". So we would like to make a few points that would clear things for you and for other travelers researching eco-tourism activities in Mondulkiri :

1. Out of the many elephant adventures listed on TripAdvisor - Just 2 are registered non profits / genuine community charity projects:

We are one -The Mondulkiri elephant & wildlife sanctuary ( by L.E.A.F ). The second is Elephant valley project, by E.L.I.E

All other tours & attractions are very nice - but keep in mind they are not registered non profits.

Choosing a properly registered NGO, means making sure that 100% your money goes towards the animals and people who need it most.

2. The remaining female domestic Bunong elephants in the area are between 40-65 years old. According to veterinary experts, first pregnancy at this age, is rare and very dangerous.
Female Asian elephants are generally able to breed by the time they are 10 years to 35 years old, and give birth to a single Asian elephant calf after a 22 month gestation period. When the Asian elephant calf is first born, it weighs about 100 kg, and is cared for not only by it\'s mother by also by other female Asian elephants in the herd (known as aunties). The infant Asian elephant remains with its mother until it is around 5 years old and gains its independence, with males often leaving the herd and female calves staying.
most female elephants have no more than four babies during their lifetimes.

If anyone tells visitors they are having an elephant breeding program - They are either completely unprofessional or outright dishonest.

3. One out of the elephants you spent the day with, is the new addition to the herd Millet.

For the first time in her life - she is allowed to roam unchained.

It takes 2-6 months transition,before she is fully adjusted to being free and accepted by other elephants in the herd. young,

Her Mahout stays close so she doesn't roam out of the sanctuary , He is not forcing her, or herding her, he's there to keep her safe.

4. The mahouts sometime allows visitors to briefly feel the elephants backs while washing and grooming them - It does not disturb them in any way, or qualify as elephant riding or working.

Each visitor to the sanctuary helps to sustain the retirement & rehabilitation of working elephants. You can read more about all our conservation and education projects on our website

Thank you for joining our program.

On behalf of the L.E.A.F conservation team,Mondulkiri

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2015 via mobile

Had an amazing day yesterday organised by Torn. We weren't sure we would manage a full day trekking and we were limited to time as well. So we spent the morning trekking then a couple of hours with a lovely elephant in the afternoon. It was perfect for us. The trek was lush, led by a lovely Bunong guide who walked behind us all the way so it felt like it was just us walking through the jungle and we didn't have to keep up with anyone or rush, just go at our own pace. Did very well showing us things with his minimal English but we understood everything. Swam in a lovely waterfall too. It was lovely to see the elephant although i was a bit scared at first. We swam with her and then walked along with her for a bit which was the best part, they're such beautiful animals. Fed her some bananas which she loved then said bye and left her munching away in the jungle. Mr Torn seemed a very genuine and lovely chap who obviously loves working with the elephants, knew a lot about them which he shared wiyh us while we walked. Very pleased we did this trip.

Date of experience: November 2015
2  Thank Gemma J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2015 via mobile

I did a 2 days tour with this travel agency. I told mr. Torn exactly what I wanted to do: Sleep in the village and receive some explanation about what we see along the way. I really loved the scenery but the tour was not what I expected at al. We didn't sleep in the village but in the jungle. And I made it very clear that I didn't wanted to sleep the jungle. At the end mr. Torn said that there was a festival in the village so we could not stay in the village. Kind of strange that he didn't now as a tour guide.

Mr. Torn didn't joined us in the jungle, we were with a bulong guide who spoke no English, he never understood what we were asking and could not explain anything. In the night when we were sleeping he was playing loud music and was screaming. Our tour guide did his best and was a nice guy but for us as a guide it didn't work out.

I was sleeping at another place than I arranged, I didn't got any explanation, could not ask questions and woke up a few times in the middle of the night because of the screaming and the loud music.

Although the scenery is beautiful I did not get what I expected and that was very disappointing.

Date of experience: November 2015
3  Thank Roos888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2015

by supporting this project you are helping local people support themselves...and you are helping the project to keep the elephants living in natural habitat...no riding ..no abuse...the most amazing thing my 2 girls and I have done....seeing and being in the hinterland of Cambodia.....perfect ..I would highly recommend to anyone.

Date of experience: October 2015
Thank daisy6154
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 October 2015

Hanging out with elephants for a day is awesome but for $50 we didn't really do anything. I don't know what I expected and perhaps there was a lot of hanging around because there was only 4 of us and there can be up to 15 but we arrived to observe the elephants and feel them but after abut 1 hour or so we all just sort of stood around then went back to the hut for lunch and a 2 hour nap in the hammocks. Then back to wash the elephants. it was a 9-4 day but could have done everything in 3 hours.
we had an awesome time it was just not well planned as a full day. Our guide had excellent English and was nice and helpful. Lunch was tasty.

Date of experience: October 2015
Thank fiona f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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