One of my favourite parts of travelling is the opportunity you get to interact with animals and if you’re lucky observe them in their natural habitat.
Chiang Mai is well known for its Elephant sanctuaries which home rescued Asian elephants from the tourist and illegal logging trade.
I knew that this was something that I wanted to do in Chiang Mai, however social media is very good at selling numerous Elephant Sanctuaries that might not be as ethical as they make out.
I am without doubt that the elephants are in better care and circumstance than when they were previously working, but despite this I still believe that there is some way to go for all of them to be up to the standards that they should be.
For example, the space they they have to roam in, the limit of tourists per elephant that are allowed each day. I have seen images where one elephant is swamped with a queue of tourists where their pictures are more important than the welfare of the animals.
After extensive research on where is the absolute best place to go, I decided on ENP Elephant Nature Park
Here they have many options on the kind of interaction that you would like to experience. And most importantly they only allow a small number of tourists around one herd of elephants. Due to this you can expect to pay more for your visit and they get booked up months in advance but unlike some of the others 100% of your money goes back in to the park and the care of the animals.
I did the care for elephants single day sometimes these have more availability than the main ENP days if you are like me and haven’t planned ahead!
As soon as I arrived at ENP I was thrilled that I had chosen to go there, the elephants have acres of land to roam and a natural river that runs through the park. There are also herds of water buffalo and dogs and cats everywhere. The water buffalo are also rescued and help provide a natural eco system in the park.
My group and I went to meet the elephants that we were to look after for the day, there were 8 of us and 4 elephants which was great!
Our activities included preparing their breakfast, feeding breakfast, walking the able bodied (some are disabled due to the ill treatment from humans in their previous life) elephants up the mountain to feed freely until their hearts desire. Walk along side them back to the park, bathe them in the river and prepare more food for their dinner.
It astonishes me that these gentle giants are so happy to be around humans considering the treatment that they have previously received, luckily for these guys they are now treated with so much care that they have regained their trust.
I was very lucky to get the opportunity for a close interaction with one female by myself which was amazing!
I hope this information helps with your decision on where to go to interact with elephants, and I really hope that you choose ENP.
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