Going for a trek through the jungle on an elephant’s back had long been a dream of mine, until I realized that those lovely pachyderms do not need me on their back. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, several hours and a world away from Bangkok, Lek Chailert has created the Elephant Nature Park, a wonderland where you can marvel at these wonderful beings up close and personal, without climbing on their back.
The sanctuary offers several programs to allow visitors to get to know the elephants. I did the Sunshine for Elephants day trip and it was so special I was grinning for days after it. A group of six of us spent the day with four elephants, feeding them watermelon and sugarcane and going for a walk in the jungle with them. Watching them chomp happily away on leaves and branches as we wandered through the forest was magical, especially after learning how these particular elephants had been rescued from abuse or hard labor and have found solace in this sanctuary.
How to get there
From Bangkok you can take a bus, train, or fly.
- Flying is cheaper than you would imagine and much quicker (50 minutes versus a 12 hour train ride)
- Air Asia and Nok Air are good options. Nok Air actually gave us a snack and free wi-fi!
Book in advance!
The Elephant Nature Park books up in advance so definitely book ahead of time so you don’t miss out. They also have a volunteer program where you can stay and volunteer with the elephants. I met a handful of girls of who participated and all they wanted to do was get back there!
OK to go Solo?
Absolutely! If this solo female traveler can do this with ease so can you. Enjoy!