Our day with the elephants was a highlight of this trip to say the least! When we decided we were going to Thailand and started planning visiting elephants and bathing with them was a must. We did some research to make sure we were visiting an authentic elephant rescue and rehabilitation center and we picked Elephant Nature Park.
In 1989 Thailand banned logging which meant these elephants which were now domesticated were now “unemployed.” Some were forced to still participate in logging illegally or in Myanmar (Burma). Many were injured while logging either by abuse, stepping on landmines, or injury from logging. It was really sad to see the animals that had been abused. In the picture below with two elephants one is blind from being shot with a sling shot in the eye and the other stabbed. The other elephant is her friend who helps guide her around the sanctuary.
Another difficulty for Thai elephants is that due to logging 70 percent of the forest area in Thailand had already disappeared. Because of this even wild elephants are struggling.
The Elephant Nature Park takes in these elephants that no longer can survive in the wild and lets them live a peaceful life. Us coming and spending the day with them gives them the income to feed and care for the animals. We started the day by feeding them and then walked around the forest with them feeding them some more bananas. After lunch we went into the river and bathed them. We did not ride them and they don’t offer that there because their main goal is to provide a peaceful life for them and not tourism. Also each elephant has a mahout which spends almost all their time together—aka they are besties. The elephants learn to trust them and they train them.
It was a beyond rewarding experience. When the baby elephant was rolling around in the water and we were pouring buckets on him it was incredible.
We were picked up for our hotel at about 8 am and dropped back off at 5ish. We were provided an amazing lunch, seriously amazing, and it was a total of $72.
If you go to Chiang Mai, do not miss this experience! Also I suggest prebooking because we noticed that the park sold out!