- Farm to table
- Local staff
- Vegetarian friendly
Elephant Nature Park is a rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where travelers can visit for a day or volunteer for several days.
The objective and mission of the sanctuary is to rehabilitate Elephants and save them from circuses, and other tourist sites where they were badly treated and used as attractions.
In this sanctuary, visitors can learn and observe the elephants in an ethical way. The bathing experiences are bathing observations unlike in some other areas of the country.
Elephant Nature Park is backed by a foundation and also is a rescue center for cats, dogs, buffaloes and other species. The Park also has a mission to restore the rain forest, protect the cultural integrity by employing local villagers.
Our review of Elephant Nature Park
What to expect
Elephant Nature Park is one of the most ethical sanctuaries in Thailand according to the World Animal Protection report. In 2017, there were only 8 on the organizations list in Thailand.
For our one day volunteering experience, we opted for "Pamper a pachyderm" program. This option consists in taking care of an elephant for 1 day, in a group limited to a maximum of 8 people.
Before arriving, the guide took care to brief us on the instructions to be respected for the safety of all as well as to preserve the well-being of the elephants.
The day begins with the preparation of the meal and some explanations about the elephants' diet. What could be better than a piece of watermelon for the first contact with our elephants of the day.
With 7 volunteers for every 2 adult elephants, everyone was able to enjoy full observation of the animals in complete peace of mind.
After breakfast, comes the time for a walk.
Accompanied by the guide and healers, we followed the pachyderms to the elephant banana plantation. An impressive experience to walk close to these majestic.
The lunch break is located near the banana plantation for the elephants. The meal was really delicious, and the view was magnificent.
Then, it is time for the elephants to "bathe" in the river. The bathing is an observation experience unlike in some other parks. After that you will return to the base which can sometimes be done by rafting depending on the level of the river. A fun and refreshing moment.
Our day ended with a visit to the park on the backstage side. A very educational moment where the approach and philosophy of the sanctuary are explained.
We discovered the kitchens reserved for meal preparation, the parts reserved for eco-volunteers, the zone dedicated for new coming elephants that are quarantined before they can join the group, and the final sweet touch was seeing the area reserved for the youngest elephants.
A magical experience and a privileged moment to observe these majestic animals while respecting them and ensuring their well-being.
We also felt that we were contributing to a worthwhile cause and to the ongoing efforts of the park and its teams to safeguard animals and keep them away from the so called 'parks' where they are used as an attraction for tourists.
Our tip: On the practical side, as the park is located outside Chiang Mai city, we appreciated the shuttles provided by the park to and from our accommodation.