It has always been a dream of mine to hang out with elephants, and travelling around Asia I knew this was something I just HAD to do. Chiang Mai seemed the obvious place to do this as it is jam packed with sanctuaries! The main question was which one to chose?
I spent a while researching to ensure I found an ethical one. There are still a few sanctuaries that offer rides “without saddles”, saying that this is not damaging to the elephant, but it is! Never ride an elephant, with or without a saddle!
I decided upon the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary for a number of reasons:
-Does not allow riding
-Great range of packages
-A lot more reasonably priced than some of the other sanctuaries
MEETING THE ELEPHANTS
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (EJS) has several different camps scattered around an area south of Chiang Mai. These camps help to keep elephant families together. We started the morning at camp 8, which is home to a family of 6 elephants. Below you can see grandma embracing her grandson – how cute is that?
Upon arrival to the sanctuary I was ecstatic to see:
-The elephants freely roaming about.
-That straight away you are instructed on how to act around the gentle giants.
-We get to wear traditional Karen tops.
Once you are briefed on how to interact with the elephants, it’s feeding time! The bananas are wheeled out – or “bon bons” to the elephants, and the fun begins! TOP TIP – the elephants prefer the more yellow bananas.
There was plenty of opportunity to feed, interact and take photos.
BATHING THE ELEPHANTS
The next part of the experience is to bathe the elephants!
All of this is completely up to the elephants, so if they don’t want to go into the mud or river, they are not forced (when I read reviews of other sanctuaries this did not seem to be the case everywhere). We had 2 out of 6 elephants enter the mud for a lovely cleanse and then rinse themselves off in the freezing river.
TOP TIP – they are more likely to want a mud bath in the warmer summer months.
WALKING WITH THE ELEPHANTS
After lunch those signed up to the morning package went home and we were left with a group of 10 for the walk through the jungle with the elephants! (10 is the maximum size for this package). The morning went by so fast so I was super happy to be staying on.
The walk through the jungle with the elephants was by far the highlight of the day and I 100% recommend it.
Getting to witness the elephants roaming around their natural habitat, tearing up trees (literally!), throwing mud on their backs and itching their faces on branches, was nothing short of magical!
We also got to visit another camp with a baby elephant! Find out more about the Walk With Elephants Package here!
1) Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
2) Elephants are just the sweetest of creatures and I think you definitely need at least a day to appreciate them fully!
3) If you only have time for half a day I would suggest going in the morning as it won’t be as busy.
Big thanks to The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary for being such a wonderful haven for these elephants! You are 100% The Ginger Wanderlust approved. If you’re interested to book a package with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary just head to their website – you can book online! They also offer an overnight package if you want even more time with these wonderful animals! Find out other amazing things to do in Chiang Ma!
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