I had wanted to see elephants for such a long time and when I arrived in Chiang Mai it was all I could think about. However its not as simple as I thought it would be. I wanted to do a day visit to somewhere that was ethical and treated elephants as they should be treated! There is an abundance of tourist company’s offering elephant tours that involve riding them which was something I am actively against. I think a lot of people are becoming more and more aware of how ,we as humans, should treat animals and hopefully this will continue over time. After doing a lot of research I came across two company’s that sounded reasonable and were ethical in there treatment. One of these was the Elephant Nature Park. They offer day visits where you can bathe and feed elephants or you can stay longer if you wish to volunteer. However I was short on time and generally these visits are booked up for at least two weeks, so if you are planning on going make sure you book early!
The other company was the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. These guys offer half day/full day or overnight tours. I decided to do a half day afternoon visit which cost 1700 baht (around £40). I was picked up from the hostel and it took just over 1 hour to get to the sanctuary. Once there we were given a brief from one of the workers about the sanctuary itself and how it is run. Then came the fun bit, meeting the elephants. We were given some bananas and sugar cane and the elephants walked over. There was even two baby elephants called Lady Gaga and Rihanna! The elephants were unbelievably cute and loved the bananas even though the baby ones were a little shy at first.
After feeding them we led one over to the mud pool and essentially covered both the elephants and ourselves in mud. After coating ourselves in mud we went over to the river with some of the adult elephants. We threw water at them from buckets whilst they bathed in the river and the elephants seem to love this, even playing with each other in between the washing. It was pretty much my favourite thing I had done on my travels and the trip even included a late lunch (Rice and curried meat and veggies). It was a perfect way to round off the day and I would highly recommend the sanctuary to anyone who wants to see elephants in Chiang Mai. I’ve left the link to both websites for the elephant nature park and sanctuary in case anyone is planning a trip.