VIDEO: Elephant Nature Park

Recently we were privileged enough to visit the Elephant Nature Park rescue and rehabilitation center nestled 60 kilometers away from Chiang Mai City on a spacious 250-acre sanctuary in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.

Baby elephant leading the way at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Introduction:

 

Typically tourists in Thailand interact with elephants by riding them and/or watching them perform in a show; however, the Elephant Nature Park provides an alternative way to visit with elephants in a natural setting (natural valley with a river surrounded by a forested mountain) where the elephants are NOT working for your Baht.

Visionary founder, Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, grew up in Northern Thailand interacting and caring for elephants in her youth. The park (Elephant Nature Park) she founded in the mid 90′s has provided a sanctuary for elephants to live in a peaceful natural environment with a focus on rescuing elephants that have been abused, disabled and orphaned from the begging, logging and tourism industries.

With a specific emphasis on rescue and conservation as opposed to training, riding and elephant shows, the park allows visitors to feed, bathe, pet and learn the personal history and (often) tragic stories behind the individual elephants that together number 37 in the park (32 females and 5 males). Aside from elephants the park is also home to over 400 dogs, 50 water buffalo, 30 cats, horses, pigs, macaques and cows.

A close-up shot of an elephant's eye at the ENP in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The highlight for us was having the opportunity to bathe and feed the elephants in a natural river setting. Having witnessed elephants engaged in the tourism industry it was the first opportunity I’ve had to spend time with elephants in a natural setting with no expectations placed on these majestic creatures to carrying hoards of tourists and/or perform ridiculous stunts.

Learning more about the rights of elephants, in which they are considered mere livestock by the Thai government, it was disheartening to hear about how they’re abused, forced away from the care of their mother at an early age and basically groomed and dispirited to entertain ‘farang’ (Thai for foreigner) who visit Thailand. Armed with this knowledge, I’ll never again support tourism that involves Elephant mistreatment in any way, shape or form.

Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand was an eye opening and educational experience that had a life changing impact upon me. Please enjoy the video above (our experience at the ENP) and check back soon for a photo essay and story from our time spent at this wonderful sanctuary.

Bathing the majestic elephants at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Video Transcript:

 

Today we’re taking a fun little day trip outside of Chiang Mai. We are visiting the Elephant Nature Park, which is about sixty kilometers outside of the city. This is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center, so we’re going to be showing you around.

This center is also a refuge for a number of injured and abandoned animals such as dogs, cats, water buffalo and others.

We have a bucket full of fresh fruit and on today’s menu for the elephants are bananas and watermelons.

Hi Baby!

No bananas. Nope!

That was my first time touching an elephant and their skin is surprisingly course and hairy.

Magnificent Asian elephants on a gorgeous day in Chiang Mai, Thailand at Elephant Nature Park

Right now the rescue center is home to thirty seven elephants. Thirty two of them are female and five of them are male. These are Asian elephants, which vary from the African elephant. The African elephant is actually a lot larger than the Asian elephant and they also have much bigger ears.

Most of the elephants on the site have been rescued from logging, tourism and begging industries.

This is the happiest time of day! The elephants are now being bathed.

Overall, the experience at the Elephant Nature Park has been phenomenal. We’ve really enjoyed having an opportunity to feed, bathe and interact with all of the elephants. It is a great alternative to doing the trekking where you are just sitting on top of the elephant and they are working. This way you get to spend time with the elephant in its natural environment feeding it and just having a great time.

Final Thoughts:

Have you visited the Elephant Nature Park before?  Is visiting the ENP an attraction you would consider if you visited Thailand?  Let me know in the comments section below:

I would like to extend a special thanks to Diane Edelman of D Travels Round for putting together this trip to ENP under very short notice.  An extended thank you to founder ‘Lek’ for inviting us as special guests to the park on a one day tour.  If you would like to learn more about Elephant Nature Park check out these two websites:  Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant

Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand travel video

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Apol February 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

ohhhhh you must have met baby Navann! Faa Mai too.
im so jealousssss.

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 12:43 am

It’s such a wonderful experience getting to meet the elephants and learn about their personal story :)

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Jenna February 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I absolutely love this place and haven’t even been there. :) It’s on my wish-list, and I hope to visit it with my kids. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

Thanks Jenna! I hope you’ll get to go soon with your family :)

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elaine schoch February 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Sounds like an amazing experience and one that would really change your thinking.

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 12:48 am

Thanks Elaine!

It certainly did :)

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Sand In My Suitcase February 8, 2014 at 2:32 am

Such incredible animals they are! It sounds like the Elephant Nature Park is doing a good job at helping to protect the Asian elephants. Over in Africa, the elephants face other challenges, and it’s so sad to think African elephants could soon be wiped out due to threats by poachers, etc. We wrote a post about that: “You Never Forget an Elephant” :-).

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 7:47 am

They sure are!

Asian elephants are also threatened of being wiped out as well. More conservation efforts are certainly needed to keep these majestic creatures alive and well.

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Ruann (Solo Travel Uncut) February 8, 2014 at 3:08 am

Will definitely visit the ENP on my trip to Thailand. It always irritates me when people talk about how they can’t wait to ride an elephant in Thailand when one can actually contribute to the conservation of these majestic beasts by doing what you guys did. respect! Traveled through Botswana once and had an encounter with an Elephant in the Delta, will never forget that rough and hairy skin. haha. And that strangely formed mouth. Great post!

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

Thanks Ruann,

I think in most cases the average tourist is just ignorant of how the elephants are being treated and assume it is just like riding a horse, camel, etc.

As bloggers we can reach an audience and help them make an informed decision when they do go to places like Thailand :)

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Chanel @ La Viajera Morena February 8, 2014 at 5:14 am

That sounds like a great place for the elephants! Also, they are so cute :D

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Samuel Jeffery February 8, 2014 at 7:49 am

Thanks Chanel!

I agree with you! :)

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Mike February 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Oh my gosh please sign me up, Samuel. Elephants are such regal, beautiful ambassadors. Of course the baby elephants are like kryptonite to me! :)

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Samuel Jeffery February 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Mike, the baby elephants are as cute as anything on this planet IMO :)

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Jen February 8, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Great video guys! What an awesome experience. Elephants are such incredible creatures.

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Samuel Jeffery February 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Thanks Jen! I certainly agree with you regarding elephants being incredible creatures :)

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Kenin Bassart February 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm

What a great place to visit. It’s wonderful to see that there are some sanctuaries in place to rescue these beautiful creatures.

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Samuel Jeffery February 10, 2014 at 2:34 am

Thanks Kenin!

I wish more of these centers existed all over the world :)

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Helen February 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm

What a great video and thanks for bringing attention to such a great project!

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Samuel Jeffery February 10, 2014 at 2:32 am

Thanks Helen!

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Mary @ Green Global Travel February 10, 2014 at 1:42 am

Elephants are such amazing creatures! I’m glad these guys/girls were able to be saved and now have a safe refuge. What a great experience. Thanks for sharing!

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Samuel Jeffery February 10, 2014 at 2:28 am

Thanks Mary!

I totally agree with you. More efforts like these need to be made around the world :)

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Vicky @ We Are Not Lost Blog February 11, 2014 at 8:24 am

We visited Elephant Nature Park last month, it was a very touching experience – Lek and her team have created such a wonderful sanctuary. The ‘crushing’ method used to domestic the wild elephant is incredibly cruel and tourists need to be aware of it. ENP is a unique experience well worth a visit :)

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Samuel Jeffery February 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

Thanks Vicky!

I agree with you totally. I think most tourists are unaware of how much abuse Thai elephants endure in order to please them.

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Franca February 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Thanks Samuel for having shared this post, video and photos, you brought back some nice memories of when we stayed at ENP. :)

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Samuel Jeffery February 12, 2014 at 7:48 am

Thanks Franco! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I sure hope to go back again soon :)

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica February 13, 2014 at 1:47 am

The photo of the elephant’s eyelashes is adorable.

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Samuel Jeffery February 14, 2014 at 1:37 am

Thanks Stephanie! They are such majestic creatures :)

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Claire @ ZigZag On Earth February 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

Great photos & video! You seem to have had a great time.
It is on my list for a future trip there!

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Madagascar holidays March 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

These elephants are so fantastic. Should do everything to protect them.

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