As well as visiting Bangkok in Thailand, my friend Laura and I also went to Chiang Mai on our travels. While we were there, we knew we wanted to spend a day with elephants, both because elephants are one of my favourite animals and it’s a ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of event.
We researched a lot about which elephant reserve we wanted to visit before heading to Thailand as the majority of parks will perform cruel acts towards the elephants and only care about getting your money. We knew we didn’t want to go to a reserve that partook in elephant rides as this is one form of cruelty to the majestic animals. Basically, if you are able to ride an elephant it is because it went through torture to tame it when it was young which is obviously not okay. Also, their backs are not designed to carry heavy loads so over the time these rides are causing serious long-term damage.
If you care about these animals, I’d recommend visiting Elephant Nature Park. This park was established in 1900s by a lady named Lek whose mission is to save elephants from a life of abuse as well as rehabilitating them. The elephants found in the park today have been rescued from many walks of life such as tourist rides/shows, illegal logging and street begging.
There are a few different packages you can opt for, but we decided to go for the Single Day Visit. This allowed us to spend a full day at the park.
We were picked up from our hotel by a bus along with others who were to spend their day at the park (an incredibly, friendly American family and a middle-aged couple from England who took Laura and I under their wings). This was our tour group for the day and we were so lucky to be with such lovely people.
The journey consisted of a rural drive through the countryside while watching informative videos and hearing explanations about elephants themselves and the sanctuary. During this time, we were also given a safety briefing because they are wild animals!
On arrival, we were taken to the feeding platform where we had the chance in turn to feed the elephants fruit which just seemed so surreal and exciting. We really were here!
Once all the fruit in the basket was demolished, our guide took the group for a walk in the grasses where the elephants roam freely. We got to meet, take photos and pet the elephants while the guide would share the names and lives of each elephant. Standing next to these animals was a little nerve-racking but amazing more than anything.
After some decent elephant viewing time, we were walked back and treated to an Asian buffet. If Asian food isn’t your scene, don’t worry, they also served international dishes. We were given some free time during our lunch break so Laura and I decided to go and visit the enclosures of other animals that the sanctuary have rescued. As well as elephants, there are also rescued cats, dogs and even buffalo.
In the afternoon, we were taken on another walk. This time we went down to the river where we were able to see the elephants bathing and relaxing in the heat.
This was pretty great in itself but we then had the chance to get our feet dirty and head into the river ourselves. We were each given a bucket and had the chance to bathe an elephant. This was one of my favourite parts of the day, it was great fun.
The whole day comes in at 2500 baht, which is equivalent to around £57. This might seem slightly expensive but when you think this will go towards the care of the elephants, your travel and food for the day, it really isn’t that bad!
If you are considering going I suggest you bring suncream as you will be out in the open all day and also some insect repellent. As you might be able to tell from my arm in my first photo, I was bitten.
Overall, it was an amazing adventure and something I would recommend to anyone. The park itself is a great place for these elephants to heal and be treated the way they deserve. It really was a superb experience that I will never forget!
Would you like to go here? If you’ve been I’d love to know what you thought!
Thanks for reading,