Karnataka (South India) boasts of innumerable wildlife destinations, the most unique being an elephant camp in the Coorg district, 240 kilometers from the state capital, Bangalore. Dubare Elephant Camp is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery, and is reached after a short, picturesque ride in a motorboat. However, the more adventurous can choose to cross over by stepping on big rocks that dot a shallow stretch of water.
Dubare affords a rare opportunity to interact at close quarters with Asian elephants, including bathing and feeding them! Every morning and evening, herds of majestic elephants head towards the river for a scrub bath, accompanied by their caretakers. Visitors can help to bathe the elephants as they take a dip, or just watch them playing and spraying themselves, sometimes with dust! The jumbos lie patiently in the water while tourists (young and old alike!) wade in to rub and wash them! After a bath, the elephants make their way to the “feeding enclosure”, where one can watch them being fed, or feed them with bananas and balls of an indigenous cereal (cooked at the camp). Next, a couple of elephants take visitors for short rides around Dubare. We were privileged to see a special training session of elephants selecting logs of wood from a pile and depositing them elsewhere, according to instructions from their trainers.
A conversation with naturalists at the reception center yields interesting facts. Dubare is home to elephants “retired” from their work of helping to capture and train “rogue” elephants for the forest department. There are twenty elephants at Dubare, with popular Indian names!
Apart from observing and participating in elephant activities, visitors to Dubare can enjoy fishing, rafting, bird watching or simply floating down the river in a coracle, (a circular, indigenous boat)! One can soak in the beauty of the landscape around Dubare as the coracle drifts between the rocks and under overhanging branches, lulled by the chirping of birds and insects. Cormorants, partridges, woodpeckers and kingfishers abound in the lush green forests along the river.
Accommodation at Dubare camp consists of modern yet eco-friendly cottages (complete with logwood furniture!) set amidst tall trees, with rooms overlooking the river. The best time to visit is between September and March, though Dubare is open throughout the year. This is a must-see eco-tourist destination in India to learn about and enjoy the lovable giant: the Indian elephant.
Dubare Elephant Camp: booklet published by Jungle Lodges and Resorts (Karnataka tourism)
Dubare Elephant Camp, http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/dubare
Dubare elephant camp in Coorg,