Thailand is home to many elephant camps. Elephant Nature Park is run by a Thai woman named Lek. Opened in 1993, Elephant Nature Park is the only refuge for elephants in Chiang Mai. The park is operated with a staff of 70 members and volunteers and receive up to 300 visitors a day. With many programs to choose from, you can go for one day to 1 week, staying in accommodation on site and donate your time to the elephants, spending your day or week pampering them.
About Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai
The park is run by a Thai woman named Lek. She rescued her first elephant in 1992, which she purchased for 2000 USD then. She opened the rescue center in 1993 with a mission to save as many elephants as possible. The elephants on the site are former loggers and street performers, many who have been wounded from years of abuse on the job. Lek educates the visitors about the harm of riding elephants and explains the cruel breaking process (known as Phajaan) that the elephants have to go through, so that humans can ride on them. Lek explains her rescue and conservation process provides a home to the abused elephants that do not have to be afraid of being harmed anymore.
Packages and cost
There are many programs you can choose from. You can pick programs from one day to staying a week where you help prepare their food and feed them while staying in accommodation right on the property. The single day visit is a full day itinerary from 8:30 AM till 4:00 PM and costs 2,500 THB (70.00 USD). The overnight package (2 days/1 night) allows you to sleep on-site to be up close with the elephants. The rate for this package is 5,800 THB (150.00 USD). There are also different volunteer programs where you can help Lek and her staff from 1-2 weeks.
Single day visit package
The most popular package is the single day visit that costs 2,500 THB (70.00 USD). The money is collected as a donation whereby all ticket purchases go back into maintaining the park. Your day starts with being picked up from your hotel at 8:30 AM in a mini van to take the hour-long journey to the park. During the ride, a movie is played to show the dos and don’ts while you visit the animals. You will also learn about the story behind Lek and her park. Once you arrive, you and your group of 12 people would have a place to leave your belongings prior to meeting some of the elephants, where you begin feeding from a platform with your group. After that, you can walk around the park and meet the rest of the animals who are all unchained and watch them eat and play all day with their Mahouts (Elephant Trainer).
Watching the elephants bathe
The highlight of the day is watching the elephants bathe in the river! The families go to the river a couple of times a day to bathe and play. You’ll witness them rolling around in the water, climbing on each other and just having fun. It will put a smile on your face. There is also an opportunity for you to bathe the elephants in the river. The staff will give you buckets where you can fill with water and throw the river water directly on them. With 30 elephants on the property, you will fall in love with all of them and want to come back another day to pamper them more!
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