One of biggest draws to Northern Thailand is the Elephants....but all elephant 'encounters' are definitely not equal!
Watching these magnificent, gentle giants interact with each other is a magical experience, to be a part of that interaction is wonderful and gives you an even better appreciation of their intelligence and a sense of how social they are. However, it is our aim to help you, the tourist, to be informed and able to experience ethical enjoyment of the elephants in Thailand.
We work in association with Elephants@Home, which is based in the North of Thailand, in the natural forest and well outside of tourist areas where the elephants are encouraged to create herds, are treated responsibly, and able to live amongst natural surroundings, but most importantly they are free to roam in the forest and in fact, as part of your Day with Elephants@Home involves saying goodbye at the end of the day, as you watch them being released back into the forest, deep into the jungle where they will spend the night in their natural habitat.
There are no circus tricks, or elephants painting or performing, these elephants are not chained and no bull hooks are ever used, but rather vocal cues are used to communicate with the elephants. They are very well looked after, fed well and the number of guests visiting are limited so that the elephants do not become tired and hungry. In fact, some of these elephants have been rescued from not so pleasant circumstances.
It is a wonderful, inspiring place to visit with a dedicated staff that truly love their elephants. It is a fabulous alternative to the elephant trekking 'camps'.
Your day with the elephants begins with information and instructions in the basics of elephant communication, from experienced and responsible trainers. You will learn to understand and to communicate with the elephants, bonding and interacting with them under the supervision of the experienced elephant handlers. You will also be able to feed them, wash the elephants in the river, walk with them and play with them. This is not an elephant 'camp' as it is their real, natural habitat, where they have lived for hundreds of years, At Home!
We visited Elephants@Home, approximately 15-20km away from Doi Nok Strawberry resort and straight away were very impressed with this elephant experience. We had conducted a lot of research beforehand, looking for somewhere that truly was ethical and Elephants@Home stood out by far! Even where it is based, which is their natural habitat and such beautiful scenery.
We visited many other places during our research to find the best experience for our guests, but found that even without the obvious cruelty (hooks, chains and seats) there are many 'hidden' things to look out for such as how many visitors are there in a day, (some places have many, many visitors in just one day, with time slots through-out the day). This, we felt, was not what we were looking for as the elephants need to eat and drink pretty much constantly (18 - 20 hours every day!) and with so many visitors it restricted the amount of time for the elephants to eat and drink. We also felt that it was far less personal for us as there were so many other visitors and it was very 'touristy'!
We found that some places, although were also not using seats, hooks or chains, involved quite a bit of road walking for the elephants, again, we felt this was not so good and were uncomfortable with the safety of road walking.
We were made to feel so welcome at Elephants@Home and straight away began to bond with our elephant 'partner' for the day. It was an amazing experience and best of all, we didn't feel it was too commercialised, actually, we really felt as though it was a day out experiencing the real, genuine side of Thailand, which it was! The other thing that made this day so special and different from any other elephant experience was learning about the Karen tribe and being allowed to visit their village and home. It's not a tourist place it's just where they genuinely live and have lived for hundreds of years! They provide bottled water and lunch (which was absolutely delicious!)
We were very impressed with their crafts such as the elephant bells they carve from wood. Because the elephants are allowed to roam free, they wear these bells so that the handlers can locate them and know where they are! This is important for looking after them properly. At the end of our day, we were allowed to purchase one of these bells for a ridiculously low price! It even had the name of the elephant we were looking after for that day carved into it! We thought that was a really nice touch!
What to take with you;
Bathing costume (for playing in the river and pool with the elephants! There are basic shower facilities for afterwards too)
Sunscreen and hat
Cash if you want to buy a hand-carved wooden elephant bell or anything
To find out more visit their website by clicking on the Elephants@Home image;
Must be booked before hand as it is very popular and you may not otherwise get your preferred dates.
We can also book this for you, if you prefer.
1 Adult - 2,300 THB
Doi Nok Strawberry Resort pick -up (9am)
1 Child - (restrictions apply) 1,250 THB
Pick-up from Chiang Mai City (7 - 7.30am) per adult - 2,500 THB