Some people limit themselves just to watch the performance of the trained elephants.
I think it's wrong.
This ride was different of all the other that I made with animals, due to a well chosen trail, allowing us to understand how does the animal deal with slopes, mud, and all the obstacles that start worrying us about safety, and finally make us trust and admire the elephant and his permanent stability.
I had a great time riding Natalie in Thailand, near the Big Buddha, and wrote about my experience here: http://emmasbucketlist.com/2012/03/12/thailand-part-3-riding-an-elephant
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read the comments before YOU consider it though. I was naive and would not do it now if I knew what I now know
It's show business... but it's good. The performance at the training center (I don't know if it exists more than one) shows hard work and professionalism with the elephants. The show pleases adults and children.
The final ride, though short and following a very beaten path, demonstrates well how securely the elephants deal with mud, even in steep slopes and narrow paths, and uses well the river to compose the landscape of the jungle.
Its so fascinating to see a toddler in awe of the massive, sweet natured, Asian elephants that we encountered at the elephant trekking camp. The elephants were once used to clear fallen trees from jungle paths and other laborous tasks, but since modern machnery took over that job the "working elephants" now ferry tourists along jungle paths. Known as "Chang" in Thai the elephants we rode were very good natured and handled with care. Our Mahout (elephant driver) was very kind to our son and held him on his lap as he negotiated the narrow paths from on top of the elephants head. I couldn't tell if my son knew what the heck was going on but he sure seemed impressed with the massive Chang.
Since Elephant trekking is set up for tourists they've got a system to get a little more money out of you along the way. It's not really a bad thing but how can you say "No" to a lady trying to sell you bananas to feed your elephant? Several times along the path we were stopped to buy some sort of food for our "Chang" and of course we did. I guess its their own version of an elephant fast food drive-thru!
We spent one month in Thailand. One of the highlights was our elephant ride and show. The ride is a full one hour through the jungle. After the ride they bathe the elephants in the river prior to putting on a great show. A 14 year old female elephant , SADA, painted a picture of an elephant holding ballons, she also signed her name. I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. If you visit Chiang Mai, don't miss this.
This is a must visit when you come to Chiang Mai.
Not only watch the elephants show, but you can touch, feed, ride, even bath them...!!!
Really excited to see the elephant work, dance, play, and paint.
Entrance fee for the park is 100 or 200 bath (I forgot, sorry).
Riding an elephant for 5 min is 30 bath, for 30 min is 100 bath.
Feeding the elephant (depend on the food) usually 20 bath.
Elephant rides and elephant shows are both quite popular in Chiang Mai. I only experienced an hour long elephant ride, I enjoyed it, but one hour was enough. Atop of this huge animals is perched a seat, on which you must cling to it's handles as the elephant cruises down hills, across rivers and through vegetation. You sway with each step. A mahoot sits on the head of the elephant to steer it's path. I thought the ride was a blast and was glad it was included.
Some may question if the elephants are treated well and if this is an animal rights violation. Locals claim that before elephants became a tourist industry per se, their populations were in decline, because they were more valuable dead, as they could sell their tusks and etc. Now that the elephants make profit it encourages their numbers to increase. At the mahoot village and during the ride I did not notice any cruelty, although at the village the elephants have a chain around a foot with some length so they can roam, but as to prevent them from getting lost. I did see, rather hear, in Ayuthaya, one mahoot trying to 'train' a young elephant and I heard the roar of the elephant from many yards away.
Elephants are an important part of the cultures life, they are valuable to assist with heavy labor. I would recommend the elephant ride, it was really fun
**After this, you may interested to know there is a factory in Chiang Mai that produces paper products purely from cow dung. You can go and learn about how it is processed and see the store, were you can buy your mother-in-laws next birthday card and gleefully explain to her that her card is a bunch of cow poop after she had been holding it.
This is not one of those "for tourists only" elephant riding tour packages in Chiang Mai. This is Elephant Conservation which run by a Thai woman who's doing all these because of her love to elephants. I saw her in documentary many times and really admire what she's doing. You can help by visiting, volunteering, buying lunch for elephants or even adopt an elephant.
Money goes as contribution to the survival of these highly endangered creatures. If you have some time and want to do something meaningful and 'not touristy', this could be your choice.
Maesa Elephant Camp was Built up in 1976. ISO9001 school. Totally 75 elephants.
The most exciting thing is elephant ride. One ride 30min=500THB. The ride happened in jungle. The road was uneasy. Elehpants had to climb up hills through trees and sometimes through river. Elephant drivers were kind. They could help you to take pictures. After the round, elephant received strew and sticky rices as feedbacks. They enjoyed food very much. So lovely.
The other point is elephant Show at 8:00, 9:40, 13:30:
soccer play, music play, massage, drawing.
Elephants are color blind, but after training und hints they can draw flowers, trees and elephants. Each drawing costs from 1000THB.
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