The gentle giants of Chiang Mai
An elephant sanctuary like no other
I was 5 years old when I first encountered an elephant sheltered in a zoo. Back then I thought Elephants are temperamental animals and very difficult to please as the one I met is very much like that. He was just lying on the floor and seems lifeless. Growing up I eventually realized that it’s because of its living condition and the environment which caused him the way he reacted.
20 years later, I found myself in the wilderness of Chiang Mai, feeding and bathing a herd of elephants.
Before I tell you my encounter with these gentle creatures I want to put an emphasis on how beautiful Chiang Mai is, which I consider one of my favorite cities and will probably go back again and again. The food is so delicious and they mostly provide healthy menus and options (not to mention it’s very affordable!), the city center is so alive and yet there are plenty of places where you can reconnect with nature. And although some locals don’t speak English, most of the people I met are extremely friendly, always smiling, and even bowing their heads after a conversation. Chiang Mai has just this homey vibe that you’ll love.
The name of the sanctuary is Bamboo Elephant Care. They provide 3 different experience that you can choose from but their core activity is mainly feeding and and bathing elephants. I chose a day trip that includes trekking, rafting, and the elephant care. I’m gonna provide more details as I go along.
I was picked up around 8 in the morning from my hotel. Pick-up is inclusive if your location is around a specific region in Chiang Mai. They might charge you additionally if you’re hotel is reasonably far away from the pick-up points.
It was just a short drive until we reached our first destination. We are suppose to do a two-hour trekking but since the rain was pouring crazy and the trail is muddy and slippery, the tour guides decided to do an alternate route. The trek was very short and easy, we ended up in a series of low-waterfalls. The guides started to jump and slide encouraging everyone to come behind and do the same. We all went down for a swim under the refreshingly cold waters.
After trekking down, we had a quick lunch. They served native Thai food and fresh fruits, which is a good meal after trekking. We headed later on to our second activity which is rafting. This is the part where everyone is just high and euphoric especially when the rapids are big and fast. It was a team effort sustaining the speed of the raft and at some point we have to move from one spot to another while simultaneously paddling on the same direction just to keep everything in balance. It was fun and thrilling!