Elephant Hills Experience - Young Girl with Elephant, Khao Sak, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Experiences on Your Thailand Vacation

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Elephants are magnificent creatures with a magnetic presence, and travellers on a Thailand vacation often want to get as up-close-and-personal with one as they can. Goway has made the decision recently to become even more selective with the elephant experiences we offer in Asia and around the world, to make sure we are not inadvertently supporting practices which harm these beautiful animals.

Elephant Hills Experience - Local Boy with Elephant, Khao Sak, Thailand
Local boy at Elephant Hills

After careful consideration, we have decided not to offer elephant riding, as even though this has been a human practice for many hundreds of years, wild baby elephants must be “broken,” in order to submit to being ridden, often through cruelty and pain. Even if the cruelty stops once they reach a certain age and are used to following orders, the elephants continue to submit out of fear, rather than out of natural inclination. There is also some evidence that human weight, not to mention saddles, are hard on their spines and can cause long-term damage.

Here are two options for our favourite ethical elephant experiences on your Thailand vacation: a daytrip to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, or a multi-day wilderness immersion in Khao Sak at Elephant Hills Camp.

Suggested Tours:
Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai
4-Day Elephant Hills Nature Safari

Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai was designed as a refuge for animals who were abused in captivity, and provides a natural environment not only for elephants, but also for dogs, cats, and buffaloes. No longer ridden, the elephants start to mend the broken trust with humans through love, respect, and care. Watch as newly freed elephants take joy in their newfound freedom and happiness – walking, scratching, swimming, dusting, and bathing at their own pace. You won’t find any saddles or mahout hooks here.

Playing with the elephants in Chiang Mai Thailand
Playing with elephants in Chiang Mai

Elephant Hills Camp

Elephant Hills Camp is an extraordinary luxury tented camp in a gorgeous area of pristine wilderness, about three-and-a-half hours north of Phuket. Not only is the setting spectacular, the accommodations define “glamping.” The luxury tents have ample space and feature comfortable bedding, handmade natural furniture, and an ensuite shower and WC. Experienced local guides will take you on jungle treks, river paddles, mangrove exploration, and let you interact with Asian elephants at the Elephant Hills Sanctuary. Home to 11 elephants, most of whom were rescued from the logging industry, the sanctuary forms part of Elephant Hills’ ongoing conservation efforts, and was awarded the Thailand Green Excellence Award for Animal Welfare in 2015. Enjoy the very special connection you make with these animals through touch, and by feeding and bathing them. Afterwards, wash off any dust in the private hot shower connected to your luxury tent, then enjoy a gin and tonic amidst the sounds of the rainforest.

Elephant Hills Experience - Tourist Encounter with an Elephant, Khao Sak, Thailand
Gentle encounter with an elephant at Elephant Hills

Suggested Tours:
Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mai
4-Day Elephant Hills Nature Safari

For more Thailand vacation travel ideas, please visit us at www.goway.com.

Related Article:
Ecotourism Destination: Asia (Part 2)

Elephant Hills Experience - Man Bathing an Elephant, Khao Sak, Thailand
Bathing an elephant at Elephant Hills

Amazing Thailand (smile) Logo - Sep2015

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Asia Product and Marketing Manager - Tim’s favourite travel experiences have included exploring Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, navigating the chaos of Mumbai, having excruciating massage in Chiang Mai, and volunteering on organic farms in Turkey. He especially loves rail travel and has taken cross-country journeys in Sri Lanka, Japan, Turkey, and India. In past lives, Tim has been a professional violinist and yoga teacher.

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