The Elephant Nature Park – A Ethical Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand

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When you think of a trip to Thailand a majority of people will think of riding the Elephants through the jungle and why wouldn’t you?
They are one of the most beautiful species on this planet; I personally don’t understand why any one wouldn’t want to spend time with the giants, but do you really think a four ton animal is happily going to let people climb over them all day?
There is a dark side to Thailand’s Elephant industry. The illegal capture and trade for use in the tourism industry, these Elephants are taken from the wild and from a young age suffer a process known as ‘breaking the Elephant’s spirit’. The phrase alone makes me feel sick. If you are curious – google the videos, educate yourself on what tourists are unknowingly funding. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘Elephants never forget’.

However, I am happy to say that each year more people are becoming aware of this problem and a lot of this is down to the Elephant Nature Park.

elephant nature park

About the Elephant Sanctuary:

Set in the Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park is a unique project set around 60km from the city. Founded by a wonderful lady called Lek Chailert, the ENP rescues Elephants from the tourism and logging trade then provides them with a sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives free from cruelty. It is a non-profit organisation, all money is put back into the care of the animals or used to purchase elephants from the trade.

The ENP is open to the public for the various length visits. I spent an amazing day at the sanctuary which cost around £45 – including lunch and transfers. As soon as you arrive at the 250 acre sanctuary you feel at peace.
During a tour of the park, you are educated on each of the Elephant’s story as they graze with no chains or ropes.

elephant nature park

After the tour, you feed the elephants their breakfast. This is when you really realise the strength these amazing animal’s have in their trunks alone.

elephant nature park

Lunch is an all you can eat vegetarian buffet and free time to spend with the rescued dogs that also live at the site. There is also an option to watch a hard-hitting documentary about the truth of Thai elephant industry. I don’t think there was a dry eye by the end, it is honestly something that will stay with me forever.

After more time feeding the elephants and lots of photo opportunities, you are taken down to the river to bathe the elephants! It was so much fun and the highlight of my day. This is also when you really see the mutual respect between Mahout (Elephant keeper), it really is a bond.

elephant bath My day at the Elephant Nature Park was a day of mixed emotions, but I came away educated and inspired. That is what I believe animal experiences should achieve. It should be more than just a photo opportunity and a cross off the bucket list. They also provide a week-long stay at the park to learn even more, and I really hope I get the chance to go back and do this.

It is up to you whether you ride the Elephants in Thailand, and many people still ride the Elephants completely unaware of the horrors, but the more this trade is funded – the more demand there is for these innocent animals to be stolen from a life free from suffering in the wild.

Below is a video about Lek, the founder of the ENP.


baby elephant

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  • Reply
    Svet Dimitrov
    November 28, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Oh, I got a little bit sad by the first line of the story, but then I saw the photos and the next paragraphs and I cannot wait to caress animal which is so gigantic, yet looks so peaceful, friendly and timid (unless frustrated I guess).

    Thanks, beautiful story!

    • Reply
      November 28, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I hope one day you get to spend some time with the beautiful elephants!

  • Reply
    Alyssa | Adjust Your Focus
    November 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I am such an animal lover but all over the world plenty of wildlife is abused for tourist activities, especially when it comes to elephants. In 2013 I went to South Africa and visited an elephant sanctuary. Such a beautiful thing and wonderful experience.

  • Reply
    Alice Teacake
    November 29, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I’m in Chiang Mai right now and this is most definitely on my list! Do you know how much it is for the whole week? With responsible tourism gaining more awareness, it’s great to see you writing an educational piece of what is happening with elephants in Thailand and how travellers can help and educate themselves. Thank you!

    • Reply
      November 29, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      I think a week is about £200 but includes all meals and accommodation, there is also 1 night 2 days which is around £90. So jealous of you being in Chiang Mai – my favourite place in Thailand. Also thank you for the comment, I hope I can use this blog to help with sustainable and eco tourism alongside my travels

  • Reply
    Beth | Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere
    November 29, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Oh, I love this! I thought this was going to be a “ride the elephants” kind of post, which made me sad. Thank you for sharing a much better alternative for responsible tourism! I’d much rather my money go to animal care and conservation than “breaking” more poor animals. Plus, animal cruelty aside, this just seems like a much more personal and involved experience than simply riding an elephant around a pen. It’s better for everyone involved!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I volunteered here for a week in 2013 and had such an amazing time! It was so educational and really opened my eyes to ways that I could be a more responsible traveller. Thanks for sharing your experience of it!
    Kate xx

    • Reply
      January 6, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      it is such a great place isn’t it? I really want to go back!

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