Elephant Love

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

 › entry 167 of 174 › view all entries
Yesterday I visited the Elephant Nature Park.  I didn't go last time I was in town because it's expensive (you pay a hefty donation to visit as an eco-tourist and an even heftier one to stay for a week as a volunteer) and because it's CRAZY hyped.  Eeeeeeeeveryone loves it.  Google it, and the only thing you come across are raves.  And if we've learned anything about me, it's that the more someone else raves about something and the higher my expectations are, the more I dislike it.  And then tear it to shreds with colorful language.  And with that price tag, I didn't want to take the gamble.

Yeah well being in Chiang Mai a second time pretty much meant I had to go.
  How could I come here twice and not go?  And since I'm currently in "holiday" mode, this being the last week of my trip, it was easier to forgive the price tag.  So I went.

I didn't think I'd like it, but I went telling myself I'd make an effort to be positive about it.  (That right there is what we call a change in character.)  And then when everyone else raved about it I'd know firsthand what they were talking about and be able to make the educated, informed decision that they were travel retards.  (What's that? Sarah Palin's got beef with me? BRING IT.)  It turns out I was wrong.  And no, I will not be making any apologies to said travel retards.  They're still retarded for a bazillion other reasons.


Let me just say this: Elephant Nature Park is AMAZING.  It's unlike anywhere else on the planet.  It's the realized life's dream/work of a Thai woman nicknamed Lek, who sought to provide refuge for abused domesticated (i.e. work) elephants.  The park is home to thirty-three elephants whom are free to roam as they please.  There are acres upon acres of land sprawling across a valley and some of the surrounding mountains, with a river running through it.  (The river is key, as elephants need fresh water for daily bathing to survive.)  The park also houses seventy dogs and who knows how many cats, all brought as unwanted animals needing shelter.  It's basically animal heaven.  And it's AWESOME.

As a visitor, your day is spent feeding, bathing, petting, hugging, and photographing elephants, who love you right back: I was the recipient of several sloppy, wet, muddy (smelly!) elephant kisses.
  I'm still swooning.

We fed the elephants three times, although altogether they're fed upwards of six times daily.  Fun fact: elephants eat A HUNDRED POUNDS of food a day!  And they're herbivores.  That's a lot of fruit and veg.  We bathed them twice, which they love, cooling down and splashing in the river.  They then coat themselves with dry dirt and/or roll around in wet mud, which acts as a coolant/sun protector.  Apparently they like to kiss me when they're at their muddiest.

It was an incredible day.  I absolutely loved it.  It's so special, and so very touching.  Each individual elephant's story is heartbreaking.  It's so wonderful that they're now able to live happy as can be.  Lek is an inspiration.  Such a huge positive effort and impact in the world, entirely due to her.  It was awe-inspiring to meet her and see what she's done.

If you're ever in Chiang Mai, make it your business to go to the Elephant Nature Park.  It's phenomenal.  You'll be raving your head off too.  (And I promise to think twice before calling you a travel retard.)

Check it: http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
sylviandavid says:
My favorite pictures is the one where you are getting your Mud Hickey Kiss..... Too cute... Fun blog to read.... xoxox sylvia
Posted on: Feb 25, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Snack time!
Snack time!
Mid-morning snack. Each bundle has…
Mid-morning snack. Each bundle ha…
Baby elephant slurping.
Baby elephant slurping.
Baby elephant slurping.
Baby elephant slurping.
Scraping the plate clean.
Scraping the "plate" clean.
Mid-afternoon snooze.
Mid-afternoon snooze.
Post-bathing dirt bath.
Post-bathing dirt bath.
Baby rolling in the dirt.
Baby rolling in the dirt.
Babies playing in the dirt.
Babies playing in the dirt.
Playing in the mud.
Playing in the mud.
You shouldve seen the massive mu…
You should've seen the massive "m…
Lek
Lek
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes