Which sanctuary to choose
There are several associations involved in the elephant experience. They are all legal but basically the difference is ethical. In fact, there are elephant camps where they give you the opportunity to be able to ride an elephant, and elephant camps where it is forbidden to ride elephants.
It is attested that riding elephants is a painful procedure for them as they are not animals meant to be ridden due to a factor of physical conformation. In addition, elephants are said to be mistreated in order to be trained. As I said before even riding an elephant is legal, it’s just up to you what kind of experience you want to have.
I personally chose the Elephant Sanctuary in Lanna Kingdom. It is located in the rural northeast of Thailand, near a river, beautiful rice fields, and stunning mountain views. Elephants are free to roam the property while the mahout walks by your side. I had the opportunity to take excellent photos and videos, stand close to the elephants, pet them feed them and bathe with them.
Their goal is to save more elephants from the circus and riding camps. It is not cheap to raise elephants; they eat 136 kilograms (300 pounds) of food a day, drink plenty of fresh non-chlorinated water and have medical needs. For this motive they need support.
It’s interesting because you can choose the most convenient experience for you, there are different programs such as:
Half day morning experience
Afternoon half day experience
Full day experience
I am sure that this experience will remain in your heart.
I booked my tour directly on Getyourguide (for those who know me know that I consider this app one of the best). They pick you up by car directly at the hotel to take you to the elephant sanctuary, there you will be given clothes and slippers to avoid soiling your clothes.
I recommend bringing your swimsuit and keeping it under the clothes they will give you (you will find out later why).
Sanctuary staff will give you a short course on how to interact with elephants and the magic words to use to communicate with them. They will explain the life of elephants and the history of the place and their incredible mission.
They leave you free to roam around and interact with the elephants in the wild, the elephants are sociable, and you have the opportunity to feed them and play with them.
The cooking class to prepare food for elephants was interesting; they really love these and they contain many vitamins that help sustain them.
Another fun part was definitely bathing with them, and here we find out what the swimsuit under the supplied clothes is for. We were taught to wash them; they love being in the water. The day was quite warm, and taking a swim in the ‘water, albeit not the cleanest, was refreshing.
After bathing, we were offered towels so we could shower, changed into our clothes, and found a wonderful lunch on the table. Here I had the best Pad Thai in Thailand. Eating with a breathtaking view like this in the middle of nature with elephants. Priceless.
After eating we spent more time with the elephants, and after that we were driven back to the hotel.
What to say ? An experience I would do again. It certainly helped me open my horizons to current issues that countries like Thailand face. I feel enriched in having brought home wonderful experience and deeper knowledge about elephants.
If this is your first trip to Thailand, check it out here.