One of the main reasons why we wanted to visit Chiang Mai, was because of the Elephant Nature Park. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Chiang Mai! Highly recommended! Read on to see which tour to choose at the Elephant Nature Park!
First up, which elephant sanctuary to visit?!
It was a tough decision, considering that there are soooo many different elephant sanctuaries in Thailand! But after doing our research, we finally decided on Elephant Nature Park (ENP) in Chiang Mai.
We went with ENP as they were one of the most reputable and legit sanctuaries in Thailand. They might be more expensive, but at least we know our money is being used for a good cause. Definitely no regrets. At the park, we saw with our own eyes how the elephants were very well taken care of, the vast space for them to freely roam about. Each elephant even has a dedicated mahout to take care of him for the rest of his life! It takes a long time to bond with the elephant and to gain his trust.
Also please guys, don’t even think about riding an elephant again. There are so many articles out there about this. TLDR, cruel and painful methods are being used to break an elephant’s spirit to get him to comply to their commands. The elephants definitely don’t deserve this and we certainly will never ever support such organisations. So pls, do your proper research before going to an unethical organisation!
Next, which tour to choose at the Elephant Nature Park?
We thought the hardest decision was made already when we finally chose ENP. But then we realised that we still had to choose the tour! And it didn’t help that all the tours sounded so good and kinda similar! You can either choose to pay to just visit the park (2,500 baht) or to go on a special tour (6,000 baht). There are 11 special tours in northern Chiangmai to choose from.
Why we chose “Pamper a Pachyderm” tour
We knew that we wanted to spend quality time with the elephants and to have closer contact with them. So we started looking at the different special tours and realised that we can’t find much info or reviews about the different tours. But here’s why we chose Pamper a Pachyderm tour!
1. Children below 12 year old were not allowed on this tour. Don’t get me wrong, we love children. But it’s just that when it comes to a tour like that, we prefer if there were no young kids making too much noise, or too much running around, as all these actions will startle the animal.
2. You get to trek alongside these friendly giants, and to get really up-close with them!
3. After the tour, you still get to go back for a tour around the park to meet the other elephants! Our tour guide, Preecha, was really experienced and patient in sharing with us stories of all the different elephants at the park!
4. Intimate group size – there were only 5 of us and 2 elephants!
What happens during the Pamper a Pachyderm tour at Elephant Nature Park
ENP will arrange for pick up from our hostel to the park directly (unless you stay too far away from city centre). The drive took around 1.5h but you will be kept entertained throughout as there’ll be a documentary & a safety briefing for you to watch during the ride.
Once you reach the park, you will head straight to the kitchen to prepare food for the elephants! One thing we’ve learnt is that elephants eat a lot and they don’t stop eating! According to our guide, elephants only stay full for 5 minutes. Once they poop, they are ready to eat again.
Then we will get to practise feeding the elephants behind a safety barrier first, to get use to being close with the elephants. We had to finish the whole basket of food that we prepared for them earlier.
Once the basket was empty, we proceeded to start the trek! The trek was a really easy and manageable trek! It was mostly flat, with only a short uphill to our lunch place. See the sling bag that Gina was carrying in the photo below, that bag was full of bananas! As we trekked with the elephants, we also get to bribe them with some sweet banana 😀 As our guide said, no food no friends. The same goes for most animals I guess. haha.
There was a short river crossing but because it was the dry season, the water was up to our ankles only.
Tip: Wear sandals/rubber shoes if you can so that we don’t have to remove your shoes like us when crossing the river.
After trekking for about an hour or so, we let the elephants rest at a mud pool where they happily splashed mud all over themselves, while we head off for our lunch!
Fun fact: Elephants love spraying themselves with mud as it acts as a form of sunscreen, and helps keep them cool!
Lunch was amazing! It was a vegetarian buffet spread that was prepared for us at the top of a hill, overlooking the serene park.
After lunch, we began trekking back towards the park, and stopped at the river again where we bathed the elephants. Buckets were provided for us to splash the elephants with water.
Fun fact: Elephants only lie down when they bathe when the water is deep enough for them to float. If the water is shallow, they usually prefer to stand up to bathe!
Besides Pamper a Pachyderm which other tour to choose at the Elephant Nature Park?
According to our guide, Preecha, the Sunshine for Elephants is his ultimate favourite tour! He has done before all 26 tours at the ENP and he still prefers Sunshine for Elephants! (Damn, if only we knew this earlier!). He said that everything was perfect for this tour, the trail was amazing, the views were breathtaking, the elephants were really friendly. So yes, if there’s one tour that you should take, you should consider the Sunshine for Elephants. Unfortunately we can’t speak for that as we only experienced the Pamper a Pachyderm. We wished we had more time! We would definitely had gone for both tours if we could!