During my stay in Chiang Mai I didn’ t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the Elephant Nature Park and learn more about these beautiful animals. I decided for a day trip and how my day looked like? Continue reading…
The park itself is not exactly in Chiang Mai (a city in northern Thailand) but about 40 min drive from the city.
how to book
Most of the hostels/hotels/travel agencies will offer you this trip. I am not sure if they charge something extra but I have booked it directly via their website. They offer various visits – full day, overnight stay, weekly volunteer not only in Chiang Mai but also in Cambodia’ s sanctuary. If you are not sure for which one to go, visit their office in the city on 1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing and have a chat about it. They will come and pick you up at your hostel and bring you back.
This rescue and rehabilitation centre is surrounded by mountains and river providing a natural environment for elephant, dogs, cats and many other rescued animals. The park was founded in 1996 by Lek Chailert. Some of the elephants are disabled or blind. They have been rescued from the street begging and logging.
Elephants are not meant to work, they are meant to live free in the herd in the nature. If you ever see baby elephants in the streets of Bangkok or another Asian city, you might find it cute but you have no idea how much they suffer. The soles of their feet are made for walking in the jungle and on the grass. They can easily burn them in the city plus they can get infection caused by stepping on sharp objects. Elephants are not provided with enough water so they suffer from dehydration, sunburn (when in nature, they throw mud on their bodies which serves them as sun cream), respiratory problems and they are often involved in traffic accidents which usually cause them injuries. Please don’ t support their mahouts in this.
This is a popular activity for tourists coming to Thailand but most of them have no idea how painful training must these animals undergo to be able to do this. Wild elephant would not let people to ride on them so they need to learn it. That means that the baby elephants are taken away from their mothers, closed in a small cage where they are unable to move, they let them starve and stab them with sharp rods in order to break their spirit. You might find load of video’ s of this process on youtube. So instead of paying for this, better visit Elephant Nature Park and approach elephants in a nicer way.
WHAT I DID THERE
I was picked up at my hostel in the morning. After we arrived in the park, we were divided into groups and had our own guide. First activity was feeding the elephants which was fun as I have never been so close to them. On the menu was watermelon and bananas. It is incredible how much they eat. Each of them eats around 300 kg of fruit each day! After this we took a walk into their run-out and were told the basic info about the park and elephant’s life. We were introduced few elephants and listened to the stories.
Then we had a break for lunch (buffet was incl. in the price) and those who wanted could watch a documentary about elephants.
Fun part came straight after. We got a basket and went down to the river to wash these lovely animals. There was not much water in the river, so no worries. We basically just picked up water in and threw it on the elephants. They loved it. This took us about 30 minutes and then we headed back to another run-out where we took more pictures. Straight after this followed another feeding and then we jumped back in our cars direction Chiang Mai.
It was a great experience and I can only recommend it.