Our stay in Chiang Mai was quick but I made sure that we visit an elephant camp. Of course I had to be certain that it was an actual sanctuary for the elephants, and not a circus camp that torture and mistreat them. What I found was Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary. We went for the half-day tour which includes feeding, trekking, and bathing (strictly no riding!) with the elephants. It also includes transfers and food & snacks.
A Jeep, filled with other tourists, picked us up at 10 AM. The journey to the mountain was quite long and I lost track of time. We arrived at a riverside restaurant for our lunch. I guess it was a famous spot since locals were enjoying their day swimming at the river. The guide distributed shirts with their logo printed out. It was not a give-away, but I’m glad it smelled good. Then we continued on for maybe another half an hour to the jump off site. From there we trekked a short distance to a hut by a river. After a few minutes, the elephants arrived and circled the hut. We fed them with an eggplant-like vegetable, and in a few minutes basket was empty. After that we started trekking the side of a hill with the group of elephants.
When we came back to the camp, the elephants went for a mud bath that we could join in if we like. When they’re all mudded up all over, then was the river bathing. We were provided with a dipper and a brush to scrub the body of those giants (though they were pretty small, probably Asian Elephants). This was the most fun part of the experience. Not only that you get to see the personalities of the elephants, but you also get to interact more with the guides and other tourists.
After taking a bath, the elephants then went to a sandy area to blow sand all over their backs. Maybe that’s like their powder? I don’t know. But they sure wasted our effort in scrubbing their backs. It was fun though, they seemed to be having a great time.
Just a little rest, then we said goodbye to our elephriends. We hiked a different way back to have a quick dip at a waterfall nearby. After that we rode the Jeep back to the river-side restaurant for some snacks and souvenirs. We gave back the shirts they lent us and they gave us cute little elephant keychains! The tour was over and we were back to our hotel in no time.