One of the most popular attractions in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the elephant sanctuary. Two week ago I got to experience this with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (EJS), and here is my review!
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Background
EJS has grown from starting back in 2015 with 3 elephants to having around 100 to this day. The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary has saved many of the species. The owner told us about an account of their saving 2 baby elephants after their mother was shot and killed. Their goal is to provide a safe place for elephants to roam freely as elephant numbers have gone down significantly due to poaching, habitat loss, and tourism.
How The Day Went!
We decided to book the half day afternoon visit (this costs 1700 baht which is about $53 USD). I visited the EJS office around 10:30 AM, and here’s a photo of their cool office!
People were getting picked up at their accommodations, and around noon we headed out to the elephant camp.
On The Way There
We departed from the office towards Elephant Camp Grounds 6. We were picked up in a car with the back open:
I actually enjoy sitting in these types of rides cause you get an awesome view driving down the road!
After 20 minutes we arrived at a rest stop:
We picked up snacks and used the restrooms (which weren’t the worst), and later we headed back on the road for over an hour. The journey over was quite nice, going through nature and seeing the outskirts of the city.
Elephant Camp Ground 6
After arriving to the campgrounds, we changed into outfits with colors that elephants apparently like, so as to make us appear friendlier to their eye. The instructor gave us some rules and tips for how to play with the elephants, like telling us not to run (as to not get chased) and how to call them over.
We fed them bananas. The sensation of the trunks grabbing our hands and reaching for the food was so strange that it made us all laugh. Though our hands were covered in their slobber, we couldn’t stop feeding them more and more food. The crazy thing is adult elephants can eat between 200-600 pounds of food a day, so just witnessing the sheer amount of food they can consume was mind-blowing.
These creatures are so huge and majestic!
Watching them frolic around the land:
Before we headed to the mud spa, we made a mixture of food for each of us to feed the elephants, which was good for their teeth and immune systems, supplying them with necessary vitamins and nutrients.
After we finished feeding the elephants, we took off our sandals and got down to our swimsuits to play with the elephants in mud. I was hesitant at first as the elephants were actually defecating in the area. This part is a bit unsanitary for people who are easily disgusted, but I decided I should head in for the entire experience as everyone was going inside regardless. You can tell the elephants were enjoying themselves thoroughly:
Some of the elephants would voluntary lay inside the mud so they could relax and play while everyone was rubbing them. It was super cute!
The mud spa is not only fun for the guests and the elephants, it is also a way of building a natural defense on their skin. This is another great way EJS is helping take care of them!
River Bathing & Lunch Buffet
After the mud bath we walked over to the river and started throwing buckets of water over the elephants. I was surprised at how happy the elephants were splashing in the water. It brought joy seeing them have so much fun:
We washed up and ate lunch. They had all-you-can-eat food laid out that actually tasted quite delicious. Water was complimentary while other drinks cost $1-2. At the end, they gifted us with nice Thai-styled souvenir bags to take home as well.
I had a lot of fun with Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and was very pleased to have gone with this company. From what I saw there was great treatment of the elephants, letting them play and frolic however they please. Please let me know if your account was different, but I did not see any signs of animal cruelty. There was no riding of the elephants which is great as elephant bodies are not designed for this.
One of the main reasons EJS is so popular is actually its emphasis on ethical treatment of animals. Their goal is to spread awareness on how to play with elephants in an ethical manner. Being able to play with elephants where they are allowed to live freely is a wonderful thing for guests!