A guide to enjoying your day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai Thailand
Visiting an elephant sanctuary has always been a bucket list item of mine. Originally I wanted to ride an elephant, but throughout the past couple of decades, it became a huge no-no. A lot of sanctuaries within the northern region have been rescuing these amazing creatures. Wanting to have the full experience with them, we opted to book our tour with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Most of the locals in Chiang Mai had also mentioned that this was their favorite one.
We participated in the half-day tour. Starting at 7am the company provides transportation to the jungle with a Songthaew picking us up. A little bit of background on the Songthaew, the vehicle is pickup truck with benches in the trunk and a covering. If you tend to get carsick, this might not be the most ideal ride for you. Ask the driver if there is room in the front during the 1.5-hour drive. Once you get out of the city into the country there are winding roads that don’t pair well with the benches in the back.
Lulu our tour guide greeted us when we got to the campsite. Lulu explained to us what we would be doing for the day, safety tips, and dos and don’ts around the elephants. The guides handed out a stripped top to help symbolized to the elephants that we were safe to be around.
Once the uniforms were handed out it was time to meet the elephants that we would be spending the day with. There were about five elephants at our campsite ranging from a small (but not that small) 2-year-old elephant to a much larger grandma elephant. The elephants were able to wander around within the wooden pen where we would be feeding them bananas. For the next half hour, we continued to feed the elephants and took pictures with them. It’s a little tough to play with the elephants due to their size but we got to pet them and take more pictures with them. The elephants played with one another, rolled around, and come by your side and make friends with you.
After we played with the elephants, it was time to bathe them. For the elephants to get clean soap doesn’t work, they need to be scrubbed with mud. We were able to get into the mud pit with the elephants and brush them and wash them. The mud also acts as a sunscreen to protect them under the hot Thai sun.
After we fed them, we took a break and ate lunch made by the staff at the campsite. We rounded out the day by doing a second feeding with the animals and then headed back to the city.
This bucket list item was a dream come true. It was amazing being able to interact with the animals in a safe environment for them. It was nice being able to make friends with these precious animals and see how they’re cared for. I highly recommend this experience for anyone who comes to Thailand.