Date of visit: September 25, 2017
Location: Chiang Mai
Elephant Nature Park – – Elephant Trails
Finally, my top bucket list item has been completed!
THIS, is the reason I came to Thailand. I’ve been wanting to visit an elephant reserve for the past 3 years, and I am happy to say that Elephant Nature Reserve met and exceeded all my expectations. I really enjoyed our small group size, which consisted of 12 people, 1 tour guide, 5 elephants, and 5 mahouts. As you can see in the video, this meant ample time to play with the elephants and take tons of photos and videos!
First things first:
Wake up early and eat a good breakfast! You’ll want to have maximum energy for playing with the elephants all day!
Duration of trip: 7 hours including travel time
Suggested wardrobe: bathing suit under comfortable shorts and tank top that you don’t mind getting dirty, flip flops
Suggested Items to bring: cheap sunglasses (my nice ones got scratched by tiny river rocks), dry underwear, water shoes if you have them, sunscreen, a snack for the van ride
8:30-9:30am: ENP offers van pickup from your hotel! During the 1hr ride to the base camp, we met our guide, King, and watched some video about the elephants at the park. (About halfway through we stopped for snacks/bathroom break)
Upon arrival, I noticed that the establishment was clean and the staff was very friendly. They definitely took great care of us. They also provide flip flops, hats, towels, and a nifty looking traditional Thai outfit for you to wear in the mud so you don’t have to get your own clothes dirty. I would definitely suggest using a hat. Aside from the functionality, it will also make you look really cool in all of your photos. If you don’t believe me, here’s proof:
10:00 am: Our day officially started! After preparing bananas, we saw the herd for the first time! What an amazing moment that was <3 . There are 5 elephants on property, all rescued from riding camps. I chose to spend the majority of my time with the two youngest ones- Nina, a 3 year old who LOVES to play in the water, and Sky, a 4 year old female with a friendly mahout whose name I unfortunately could not figure out how to spell, and therefore did not remember.
Our morning consisted of feeding them, walking them through the hills, and more feeding… How much do elephants eat? According to King, “Elephants only stop eating when they sleep.”
We finished off the trek with a quick walk through the river and then headed up for lunch.
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11:30-12:30PM: Lunch was delicious. I consider myself a pretty picky eater and even I was excited about the food here. We were served chicken pad thai, rice, veggies, fruit, and even French fries. Two thumbs up. The break was long enough to eat, nap, change clothes, and get to know your group mates! Our group consisted of mostly Americans, Germans, and Canadians.
1:00-2:30PM: Time to get dirty! My suggestion for ultimate fun: commit to the mud! The muddier you are, the better! Elephants use mud baths to keep themselves cool, and this is a great opportunity to help them bath and/or throw mud at your friends.
After 30 minutes of muddy water, we moved over to a small lake for a proper bath. They gave us each a bucket to help rinse the elephants off with, but it’s more for fun then necessity. The elephants are perfectly capable of cleaning themselves off. They love to lie down and roll around in the water. I never thought I would be swimming with elephants!
PS. I would suggest befriending the mahouts because they will take photos for you while you swim !!