Before I begin this post- i want to stress the importance of researching elephant parks that make the care of the elephants their number 1 priority. In Thailand (and all over the world) some parks claim that this is their priority- when actually they mistreat the elephants. Please please please only support parks that look after the welfare of the elephants. You need to research heavily before you give your money to someone who in fact makes the elephants life a misery.
Elephants are such sensitive, and beautiful animals. Having grown up in Kenya, i have always loved these majestic animals- and my visit to the Baan Chang Elephant Park in Chiang Mai was a dream come true.
In Chiang Mai there is also another farm I’d like to visit called Patara. They certainly look after their elephants- but are booked months in advance- so I settled for my 2nd choice Baan Chang.
Chang means Elephant in Thai… And Chiang Mai is the land of elephants!
I opted for the early program, so I had to wake up super early and be picked up from my hostel at 6:30 am. I was picked up in a clean and suitable van which was a great start. The driver and guide (Vinai) were friendly and informative.
Being a solo traveller, I didn’t let the others sleep and got to know the group whilst we drove for an hour. I was glad I had a fun, sociable group with me!
We got to the park, and after being given a Mahout outfit to change into… I then schnaffled a couple of bananas for myself-to make sure they were sweet enough for the elephants of course 😉
We helped carry the huge baskets filled with more bananas and went to feed the elephants!
Honestly, this was so heart warming and fun I would’ve already felt like i had my moneys worth.. But this was just the start of a beautiful day!
Don’t be afraid to get dirty, let the elephants touch you and get their dirt on you- this isn’t a fashion show. Its all about letting the elephants trust you and satisfy their curiosity! Their mouths are far away from your trunks, and elephants are vegetarian anyway- so you dont need to worry!! Don’t scream or make any sudden movements that will scare them- they may be large but if mice scare the heck out of them- imagine what we do!
One of the younger elephants wanted to give me a kiss, so the mahout asked me to turn around… The elephant then wrapped his trunk around me and ‘kissed’ my neck by sucking on it so hard- that it went red for about an hour!!!
After this we then practiced getting on and off the elephant, we also learnt a few commands so that we can control the elephant. Obviously each elephant has their own mahout so don’t worry if you cant remember the commands- you’re always in safe hands! ‘Pai’ means ‘go’ and ‘Hau’ means stop!
Once we had gained a bit of confidence, we were each given our own elephant. Getting on the elephant is a little adventurous as you have to jump up.. And before you are sat comfortably the elephant stands up straight away- so hold tight! If your elephant has a chair attached to it- thats a sign the park doesn’t look after the elephants- remember to research!
Off we went for a walk with our elephants, riding them is a bit painful after a couple of hours! But so much fun! Mine sneezed on me, and continuously hit my legs with his ears- i loved him so much I could’ve burst from happiness!
We took a break from the walk whilst the mahouts let the elephants have a quick cool down in the water- and rightly so, its very hot! Make sure you drink some filtered water, wear your sunblock (hat is also a good idea) and be prepared for a tan!
We got back on the elephants and went round for a second lap.
Once we finished the second lap- we took the elephants into the water and bathed them. By far my favourite part of the day. It was a bit scary because the water is murky and you cant see below- so you cant tell when the elephants feet are! But its fine, just be careful and get involved. I had a great time scrubbing my elephant and pouring water on him! I think he was having fun too because he splashed a trunk of water all over me… TWICE! It had me roaring with laughter, such endearing personalities these elephants have!
Sadly this brings us to the end of our elephant interaction. You have some time to shower and get changed (towels, shower gel etc provided).
Once you’re a feeling a bit cleaner, you can sit down for a huge lunch. Fish soup, & pad thai noodles are served. I had let them know im vegetarian and they kindly made a vegetarian soup for me too- there was so much food!