Auck Ward

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Elephant Nature Park: A Day with 42 Elephants

Baby elephants nuzzling at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Warwick Meade.
I have no official figures, but suffice it to say that if anyone is going to Chiang Mai and likes BuzzFeed animal listicles (this piglet thinks YOU are deliciously handsome), they are probably going to take a tour to visit some elephants.

I managed to slip in a reservation for two to the Elephant Nature Park for a day of feeding and baths. It didn’t offer elephants rides like other parks did, With that, I could make the case to Kiwi that the animals aren’t being exploited, that we could have a fun day with the elephants.

We spent the day with the elephants!

Touching an elephant at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Warwick Meade.

The day-long tour at the park started with small groups feeding various elephants some watermelon, pumpkin and bananas. The humans had to stand about a meter away from the elephants; their trunks would clear the distance and take the food out of your hands.

Feeding elephants at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Warwick Meade.

Then, a guide would walk us around the grounds to observe groups of elephants doing elephant things. The first group was two ladies covering themselves in mud. The other group were three elephants having a feed by the river.

Elephants having a feed by the river. Photo by Tina.

At middday, we stopped for lunch buffet that the park provides and had some free time to just observe the elephants across the whole park.

Watching elephants from above. Photo by Tina.

I did see a mahout ride an elephant across the river. Elephant didn’t look guided or in distress, it just looked like a guy on one of two elephants across the river. When I asked our guide about it, her response was that the mahout has been with the elephant for 20-some odd years. It is someone who has a connection with the elephant, not a tourist on a joyride; but seeing this registered mixed signals to me (Kiwi disagrees with me on this):

Mahout riding elephant at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Tina.

Later on, the guides lead elephants to the river for their bath, which consisted of the tourists splashing water on the elephants while they ate. Elephant poop floated by as we splashed the elephants. Lots of good photo ops regardless.

Bathing elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Warwick Meade.

Bathing elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Warwick Meade.

Our guide led us two more areas to view elephant prides. In one instance, one baby took some liberties running away from grownups, like rambunctious toddlers do. In the other instance, the two babies (TWO BABIES OMGZzz) would quarrel with one another when they weren’t chasing a shibe-looking dog — Elephant Nature Park also has about 400 dogs on the premises as well. (A picture of two baby elephants chasing a shibe would break the Internet, magazine editors/web editors/Reddit)

Baby elephants making mischief. Photo by Tina.

Shibe-looking pup at the Elephant Nature Park. Photo by Tina.

The day ended with a visit to the newest elephant, elephant #42, who was being treated for something before being introduced into the park; and another feeding of elephants from a meter away.

We left the park with probably a couple hundred photos that we were eager to slap on the Internet. Break the Internet, elephants!

Squee over elephants in the comments. Photos by Kiwi and Tina.


  1. The internet heard your call and has produced a video to break itself – might have even been the same time you were there?

    One baby chasing a dog and getting frustrated. I didn’t actually research and find this though… facebook had this under you posting as a “related article”

  2. I was wondering how much this day cost you? I see it online for about $75 a person, was it cheaper to book there? Thank you!

    • Tina

      August 12, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Hi Julie, You’re right, it costs about $75 USD. I didn’t see any discounts in Chiang Mai. I would say, if there is a particular day you want to book, do it online. You can visit the office in town, but you might be dealing with whatever openings they have left.
      Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

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