Sometimes when traveling I come across somewhere which just blows me away and I think needs as much publicity as possible. Mae Rim Elephant Sanctuary near Chiang Mai is just such a place. Only opened in 2016 and home to only a few elephants at the moment, this place is amazing.
There is such a dilemma in Chiang Mai and the rest of Asia about wildlife experiences and you really do need to make sure you do your research first as there as some very unethical practices out here such as elephant riding and drugging animals to keep them docile etc. Mae Rim Elephant Sanctuary had great reviews on Tripadvisor so we thought we would try it out. As hoped for, the elephants are lovingly cared for and there is absolutely no riding or similar involved at all, no tricks, nothing an elephant wouldn’t do in the wild (the same as the elephant experience I had in Cambodia which I also recommend). The elephants have been rescued from a mixture of logging operations, rides and circuses, by an incredibly dedicated grouo of locals, supported by passionate backpacker volunteers (In fact I could seriously see myself heading back here to do just that….).
They run an option of a few different tours and we booked on a morning tour (1600thb 8am-1pm). We were picked up from our hostel and taken to the sanctuary, then given tea and coffee while meeting the elephants. Loading our pockets with bananas we set off to have them all swiped by cheeky elephants, including the absolute handful of a 400kg baby Sethi. With a habit of barging people out of the way when they weren’t looking he became a firm favourite. Then after a walk through the jungle where the elephants could graze, take a dust bath etc (they do what they want so it is different every day) we ended up back at the sanctuary centre for a mudbath.
After all getting covered in mud the elephants came in to join us and we helped rub the mud into their skin to give them a bath. Then over to another pool to rinse off, and an impromptu appearance from Sethi who had escaped and wanted to play, mainly by trying to climb on the other elephants. It is important that the elephants havetheir own space so time is limited here and we went off to shower and have a short cooking lesson to make Thai noodle soup – all included. We even had the added bonus of making another furry friend with Mowgli, a macaque that the sanctuary rescued from a road side entertainer – a great lover of water melon and attempting to take selfies on my phone (mainly just covering it in watermelony fingerprints). So in conclusion, if you are looking to meet an elephant in Thailand and to know that the money you spend does serious good, look no further than Mae Rim Elephant Sanctuary!