Learning about Elephants

Experiences in Thailand
By Leslie Welshimer

Eager visitors flock to Thailand to experience the country’s welcoming people, stunning scenery, appetizing cuisine and the chance to get up close with an elephant (Chang in Thai).

In choosing where to spend time with elephants, it was important to me to choose an organization that was ethical and truly helping elephants. I’d read rave reviews about the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, so after some investigation, I booked the “Learning Elephant” day tour.

The Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary and rescue centre for about 30 elephants. It’s located in a breathtaking valley. The park is bordered by a river and encircled by forested mountains in Chiang Mai province.

Being in the presence of elephants was humbling and mesmerizing. We were given a sizable bucket full of bananas, corn and squash to feed one elephant. The elephant looked at us with kind eyes and gently took food from our hands.

After feeding, we had some downtime to relax and watch the elephants stroll about the park. I would have been happy to just sit and watch them for hours. The interaction in activities, like feeding and bathing, was just icing on the cake.

The bathing was one of our favorite parts, as we had the opportunity to wade in the water and immerse with the elephants. Buckets and brushes were distributed to volunteers and guests to split the duties.

The lunch that we were provided was astounding. It was a full buffet of 20+ options. The feast would leave even the most selective eater with a beaming smile and full belly.

The afternoon brought a second round of feeding and bathing for the elephants and more enjoyment watching the elephants roam in the peaceful solitude of the park.

There was an educational element woven throughout the day’s events, including about an hour where we watched a documentary about Asian elephants. The documentary was powerful, eye opening and inspired us to want to help.

The memorable day concluded with transport back to our guesthouse. Our exceptional guide, Chet, gave us a chat about how people can make a difference and concluded by saying, “Take care of your health and your love. Make the world smile.”

If you’re interested in visiting the Elephant Nature Park, click here to learn more.