Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

A Day With The Ellie’s

The first thing we did after arriving to Chiang Mai was to book a day with the Elephants. ‘Chang’ does mean Elephant after all! I have been lucky enough to spend time with these beautiful creatures last year when I stayed in an Elephant camp in Krabi and I absolutely fell in love with them. Unfortunately not all Elephants in Thailand are treated well though, some are subjected to terrible living conditions, they are beaten and made to carry 3 or more people plus a heavy basket on their back. Last year I did ride an Elephant with a basket and we hated every second of it. You could tell they were not happy. I will never, ever do that again.

We were recommended to visit the Thai Elephant Home, Chiang Mai, as the home prides itself on being eco friendly and rescuing Elephants from being mistreated and kept in poor conditions. You ride the Elephants bareback, so no baskets in sight. We decided to do the one day mahout training. It was pretty expensive in comparison to other training days, but it was well worth it.

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We started our day by learning some of the basic commands to ‘control’ the Elephants. They are such clever animals. They respond to your voice, for instance, if you say ‘Map Long’ (which means ‘down’) the Elephant will crouch down and put her leg up so you can climb on her back. If you are on their back and your shoe falls off they will even pick it up with their trunk and give it back to you! It was super adorable. We then had a little ride around the stables (is that what it’s called?) to get a feel of what it’s like riding the Elephants. It was pretty scary to be honest, you’re so high and it’s all about balance! It’s a weird feeling to start with, I thought I was going to fall off many times, but you soon become a pro! You then choose your Elephant for the day. That’s right, you’re very own elephant! No sharing. It’s awesome! I straight away ran to the smallest and cutest one. My Elephant was only 5, the baby of the pack, ‘Nu’.

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We started our trek through the jungle, riding our elephant. Going up hill was pretty terrifying but the views were spectacular. The background, so lush and green and the peaceful sound of the bugs humming. Occasionally you have to use the commands, ‘how’ means ‘stop’ and a kind of ‘huh’ grunting noise means ‘go’. Most of the Elephants were well behaved and stayed on the path but little Nu liked to walk off in the wrong direction and eat everything in site! Deep in the jungle we stopped for lunch, and fed the Elephants. They loved my left over pad thai!

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Conveniently, where we stopped for lunch happened to be next to one of Thailand’s two black mud baths. The Elephants love rolling around in the mud and it’s great for cleansing their skin. And ours by that matter, so we all gave ourselves a little mud face mask… Little did we know the mud bath also doubles up as a toilet. So we probably had poo smeared on our face too. After the realisation of potential pink eye set in, we rode our Elephants to the river and bathed them. My Mahout thought it was hilarious to command Nu to spray me in the face with the river water! He obviously did not understand how concerned I am about germs! But it was fun and Nu is just too cute. Once everyone was clean we were home bound. Downhill was great, just had to hold on tight! I felt pretty emoshe saying bye to Nu. She was such a sweetheart, I wanted to take her home!

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We had the most fabulous time with the Elephants at the Thai Elephant home, you can tell that they are treated great, they are such well trained, happy little things! You go away feeling like you really got to know your Elephant personally and feel grateful that you had the chance to experience these wonderful animals. If you’re in Chiang Mai I would recommend this trip 100%. If you don’t love these creatures already, I guarantee you would after this visit.

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2 comments

  1. Hey Sam! Awesome post! How much did it cost you to do this? The trip sounds awesome!

    • Hey Jodie! The Thai Elephant home costs 4,500 baht, which I think, works out about £90. You can get other trips for about 2,500 baht, but you share your elephants and don’t get long to ride them. It’s a tad expensive but I love the elephants so it was well worth it 🙂

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