Our second to last stop in Thailand was Chiang Mai, and we knew we wanted to visit an elephant sanctuary when we got here. We had done a lot of research online to make sure we went to one which was ethical and treated the elephants well. We came across a few companies that offered a ‘no riding’ experience but also offered a riding experience too so it defeated the object of the sanctuary really.
We were recommended Bamboo Family Care by two friends we met travelling and online the reviews were great so we decided to go with them. We were picked up by out guide at 8:30 am and started the hour journey into the forest in a TukTuk.
Once we arrived the elephants seemed to appear out of nowhere, they were casually just walking around the main area without a care in the world. I was so taken back when saw them so naturally just like when I saw the orangutang in Borneo.
It was great to feed and stroke them and just watch them wander around and interact with each other. We also learnt some command words which the staff use to get them to recognise when its feeding time and for praise:
Bon Bon – Food
D D – Good boy
Ma – Come
Rai – Go / Walk
It was great to see how they were trained to do such simple things when needed, but then we realised why they must be so popular in circus and entertainment. The thought that you can teach such a huge animal the same commands as a small dog was crazy to me.
After some photo opportunities we headed to make some ‘medicine’ balls for the elephants. These basically help with digestion and give them the variety of food they need. Elephants love sweet fruits so if they could that is all they would eat. It was great fun to make these by hand and use the traditional machinery.
After lunch for both us and the elephants we went on an afternoon stroll through the forest. This was such a surreal experience and it was amazing to see them take their huge strides making the walk look so easy when I was out of breath.
To cool down after the walk we then all headed for a big bath in the river. The smiles on mine and Daves face say it all. This truly was such a special experience and I loved seeing how much they enjoyed being in the water and being bathed. The baby elephant even tried to play and push me over, I think he may have forgot how strong he was though as I went arse first into the water, shame we didn’t get a photo of that moment!
I cant really explain what a beautiful and special experience this whole day was, its some thing that 100% needs to be on everyones bucket list when visiting Thailand. I just ask that you call do your research and think about the company and the type of experience you want. I would highly recommend Bamboo as a company as the day was perfect.
Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a great day!