I’m starting off my first ‘proper’ post with my elephant experience because it was so special and awesome.
If any of you have been to Chiang Mai you’ll know that elephant experiences are being sold everywhere, from cheap prices to very expensive. However it’s commonly known that lots of these elephants are treated like circus acts and live in horrible conditions.
My short time travelling parts of Asia taught me how much the locals really rely on tourism as a way to provide for their families. Therefore, people like myself over pay for everything unless you’re a ruthless barterer (which I am definitely not). My view on this is that ultimately I don’t mind paying a bit more than I should, I’m in their country learning about their culture and I want to respect that. Not saying I was constantly mugged off and wasted my money, just that I appreciated what they were doing.
Anyway, my point being these elephant experiences are perfect money making opportunies for the locals so we really wanted to pick the right one. The main aspect being we wanted to visit elephants that were happy, we weren’t interested in seeing them ‘perform’. I love elephants and wanted to meet them in their natural habitat.
We stayed in a comfortable hostel called Finley’s Cottage in Chiang Mai and they suggested we did a half day experience with Woody. Woody owns an elephant sanctuary in Baan Chang (2ish hours from Chiang Mai) and uses the money from the tours to keep the sanctuary running. We took his advice and I’m so glad we did. Included in our package was the return bus ride, feeding the elephants, learning about them, a bareback ride and lunch.
From the get go we could tell they loved the elephants so much which was amazing to watch and actually a relief we had picked the right sanctuary. We rode a massive elephant called Magnum and he was beautiful. When we were on our little trek through the forest we stopped in a lake so they could chill out and the workers showed us how the elephants liked to be scrubbed and washed. You could really see the passion they had for the animals.
If you love elephants and want to experience looking after them and see them in their natural habitat I would highly recommend Woody’s sanctuary. The price was also very reasonable which was an extra bonus to our unforgettable day. Definitely one of my favourite memories.