2 days at the Elephant Nature Park

After a few months of blogger’s block, I’m back ūüôā

In July, after having spent 5 days in Laos, I arrived in Chiang Mai, the largest city in the North of Thailand. I was looking forward to a¬†relaxed atmosphere, lots of¬†vegetarian restaurants and… cute elephants.

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There are a lot of parks near the city where tourists can ride on chained elephants or watch them perform circus tricks. If elephants are not your thing, it is also possible to spend time with drugged tigers. Great.

However, after some research, I found out about the Elephant Nature Park, which is actually a small paradise for elephants in need, and I booked the overnight visit.

The first activity after arriving in the park was feeding the elephants.

Elephant having lunch at Elephant Nature Park

While we gave them bananas and watermelons, our guide told us¬†about the personal stories of each elephant. Many of them arrive at the park after having spent most of their lives being forced to work in horrible conditions or after having been injured by a landmine. A few were blind, a few had severe injuries in their legs and needed daily medication, a few had a broken hip and couldn’t move properly… ūüė¶ But living in the park, they have all the care they need, a lot of tourists willing to scratch their heads and lots, lots of food.

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Afterwards, it was time for the humans to eat. A sign that the park is a real animal sanctuary was the fact that the food served in the buffet was almost vegan, except for a few options that might have contained egg. I get a little bit excited at buffets, so my dish ended up looking like this:

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So much food that the fork has almost disappeared…

In the afternoon, we went for a walk in the park to get close to the elephants:

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elephant-and-dog-elephant-nature-parkelephant-nature-parkThe guys near¬†the elephants in the pictures are the mahouts, the workers who take care of each one of them. Someone has to be always near them, and especially if¬†it’s a baby elephant, since those little ones have a lot of energy and might go a little crazy when they start playing. Some are still learning to walk properly ^_^

Afterwards, it was time to bathe the elephants on the river bank.

elephant-nature-park-riverSadly, I couldn’t take pictures of that, but there are enough videos¬†on YouTube of the elephants enjoying their daily shower.

After dinner, I enjoyed the wonderful sunset with the other visitors of my group and we also had the chance to meet some of the long-term volunteers of the park. I really regret not having found out earlier about the possibility of staying several weeks there.

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Next day, some trumpeting elephants outside woke me up early in the morning. This is the first thing I saw when I went out of my room:

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Lovely, isn’t it? Right in the middle of the jungle! I have to say that I almost couldn’t sleep during the night, since I could only think of all the spiders, snakes, snakes and spiders¬†that might sneak into my bed. A vegan girl who doesn’t really enjoy wild nature, that’s me!¬†Anyway, I shouldn’t have worried so much since¬†I didn’t even get bitten by mosquitoes.

After breakfast (no meat again, but I did see a tray with eggs and some milk cartons… ¬¨¬¨), we went to see the elephants again. One of the babies showed us how much he enjoys playing with old tires:

Elephant Nature Park Thailand

As usual, an older female (I cannot remember if she was his mum or just a nanny) was there with him to make sure he behaved well.

After lunch, we spent some time with the dogs of the park. Since there are many abandoned dogs in Thailand, the park also has a special area dedicated to them. They really enjoy when tourists take them out for a walk.

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They must have had a rough life. For example, the one that I took out for a walk was the most terrified dog I’ve ever seen, always with his¬†tail between the legs. He kept begging me with his eyes “please don’t hurt me, please, please, please”.¬†I¬†wish I could have told him in thai-dog-language “I bring you loooove”. I wish I could have taken him home with me ūüė¶

And the last activity of the afternoon was visiting a couple of elephants who preferred to spend their time a little bit apart from the others in the middle of the jungle. I don’t remember all the details but, again, they had had a rough life. As a consequence, one of them was blind, but still seemed to enjoy when we¬†scratched her head and told¬†her how cute she is.

wpid-14075560531223.jpgThey are so enormous and¬†at the same time so shy and pacific that it’s impossible not to love them. (Unless you are a horrible, horrible person)

She seemed quite happy after we started scratching her behind the ears:

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Sadly, our walk in the jungle was the last activity of the visit to the park. Soon after, a van took us back to Chiang Mai and two of the greatest days of my whole trip were over.

I hope this post serves as a proof that you can do something good for the animals in Thailand and at the same time enjoy your holidays. For more information, just take a look at the website of the park:

http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/

I’ll definitely go¬†back some day ūüôā