These gentle giants were never designed to be used as working animals as they are now in a lot of countries. With elephants being used for logging in some areas of Asia, for amusement in others via trekking and simple rides at tourist attractions the need to protect them has steadily been on the rise. That is where the Elephant Nature Park and others like it come in. If you are visiting Chiang Mai, here is why you should either volunteer your time with this organization or spend a day with these wise creatures.
With an early morning start time of around 7:00 a.m. you are picked up by a minibus that transports you out to the park. From there you will get to experience the magic that is this rescued elephant herd. Depending on the package you have chosen, from there you will sit with your group and learn about some of the things these animals have gone through, and how they were rescued and brought to this park. As you look around you will see that multiple elephant viewing platforms are constructed to see these giants roam around, playing in the water and snacking. After the talk, you will get to have your first encounter with them. You will walk over to one of the platforms where you will be allowed to feed them. Be prepared to be snuffled with a very big trunk!
You will then be served with a big buffet style lunch full of traditional Thai dishes. You can take this time to get to know the other visitors who have opted to volunteer their time or simply spend the day with the elephants.
The afternoon is when you get up close and personal with some elephants. These guys are big, so you may feel a little apprehensive at first but not to worry they are enjoying being fed and watered. It is time to head to the stream that flows past the park and ‘bathe’ the elephants. This usually involves you getting more of a bath than them as you try to pour buckets of water all over them. It is a bit of a reach. After this, you can walk with the elephants around the park and learn about their individual stories from the mahouts. There is also a dog rescue which you can check out if you are thinking you want to make a commitment to a creature in need. You will not be disappointed and will know that your cash is going to an important cause.