When you’re visiting Chiang Mai then one thing that you just have to do is go and visit one of the many elephant sanctuaries near the city. Before 1989 elephants were used on different kind of heavy labor (mostly in logging) but after the ban from the government many smaller and bigger elephant farms, homes, sanctuaries were created to offer homes for the elephants. At the moment it’s not possible to let all of the elephants back in the nature because there is just not enough room. Many jungles have been cut down and suitable areas are scarce.
But there is a huge selection of these kind of places around here and at first it’s rather difficult to prefer one to another. Roughly they divide into 2 groups – in one group they offer elephant riding besides other activities which in my opinion is not very good (since elephant backs are not meant for anyone riding on them plus in order to train them for riding sometimes quite awful methods are used). The other group offer no such option but elephants are living as free as they can be and they are also treated as family members. Of all the places in the second group we chose Elephant Family Care and we were very satisfied!
It’s a small place about 1-1,5 hours out of Chiang Mai in the nearby hilltop jungle. Our guide was very friendly and sweet, we could book the trip via Facebook and most importantly everything had this wonderful home feeling about it. When we arrived there were chickens and dogs walking around everywhere, a bunch of happy people greeting us and it just felt nice. In our group there was just 3 people – me, Anna and one girl from South-Korea. We took the one day elephant care and trekking option but since there were once again fast floods in the area sadly this time we weren’t able to go bamboo rafting . In the big picture it was not important. What was important were these magical animals called elephants. We had never seen elephants from so near nor touched or fed them and I’m not even talking about taking a swim with them. The whole day and the experience was just so memorable and once again I’m recommending with two hands! At the end we got the 3/4 day trip for 1,400 baht each so as usual there’s some negotiations involved. But we were happy to pay knowing that the money will go to these wonderful animals and people looking after them. Here are some facts we learned:
- Asian elephant usually lives up to 60-80 years old
- Full grown Asian elephant can weight more than 3 tons
- They are sleeping only 3-4 hours a day, rest of the time they are mostly eating and pooping. And just having fun 🙂
- Average Asian elephant usually eats about 10% of his/her bodyweight every day
- They really really really love bananas 🙂
So once again, if your near here, definitely go and see them for yourself. You can’t miss this experience! There will also be a video coming about our day with the elephants and visit to the Grand Canyon water park!
Talking about the water park – that’s also one thing that you should definitely do here. At first the park looks like it’s meant for 5 year old’s but after about 10 minutes you are that 5 year old :)! There’s quite big selection of different floating obstacles, places to climb and jump from, smaller pools and areas for relaxation plus eating and cold drinks right next to you.
We got a bit sunburnt (finally! I’ve been waiting for it already for 2,5 weeks 🙂 ) but we had fun! We spent about 5-6 hours in the park (about 2 hours from it was lunch and leisure time) so basically at least half a day is recommended for a visit. The entrance fee for the whole day is 350 baht (about 9€) but it’s worth it!
There’s also an option to do higher cliff diving in the park (about 10 metres) and of course I went and tried it :). Let’s say it was quite and experience and if you’re into these kind of things then have a go! If not, then there is plenty of other things to do there.
Until the next post!