Swimming with Rajan – The Elephant

Elephants don’t like me – see my blog on making elephants bend to my iron will.

So here I was in Andaman Islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, closer to Myanmar and Thailand but still in India. I was expecting pristine white beaches, superb diving and snorkeling, and an idyllic time just lazing far from any wild life. At first it was all as I expected, and more, including pristine white sandy beaches, hardly any people, and I could sense the superb diving and snorkeling awaiting us.

It was on the second day that the guys at the hotel asked whether we were “going with the elephant”? I expressed my puzzlement – elephant on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Had it swum there I asked? Ignoring the kick under the table I looked enquiringly at the waiter. My joke (or sarcasm as my wife tells it) was wasted. Apparently it might well have.

It turned out that the island had an elephant, which when he was in the right mood, took a swim in the ocean accompanied by any intrepid guests who happened to want a swim at the same time. To want to swim at the same time required handing over some money, presumably to bribe the elephant, but also to get a loan of the snorkeling equipment. Needless to say I was overruled despite the fact that neither my wife nor I can swim more than length of a small pool and my wife only manages that if the pool was no more than 4 foot deep.

The swimming elephant guide found it easy to assure my wife that skill at swimming wasn’t important in the Indian Ocean; but I wasn’t keen on  “swimming” close to a moody and apparently bribable elephant. Maybe elephants, like whales, can communicate over vast distances – even from as far as Tanzania or Corbett.

The guide helped my wife with the swimming and Rajan, the elephant, tested the water and just walked into the ocean and swam (almost danced) in really deep water for about 20 minutes, as its people attendants accompanied it in the swim. Rajan then swam and walked out to dry himself on the beach, and got bribed with edible goodies. All who swam with Rajan found it the most exhilarating experience they had ever had – and I regret not going in. I will next time.

I won’t even attempt to describe what took place during the swim as there is a video on the website which speaks volumes – and better than any writing could do it justice. The islands are a wonderful experience but add in Rajan and you have something unforgettable.

Andaman Islands – pristine white beaches, superb diving and snorkelling, but the highlight of my trip was swimming with Rajan, The Elephant See Video

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