The Asian Elephant has been an icon in Thailand since the beginning of recorded history. In times of peace, the elephants were Thailand’s bulldozers. In times of war, they were her tanks. The elephant is revered in Thailand’s Buddhist culture. The world is fascinated by these gentle giants, yet they have no more rights than livestock and are now critically endangered due to poaching, habitat loss, and animal cruelty. “Lek” Chailert is changing that with the creation of the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary north of Chiang Mai where rescued elephants can heal and thrive. Nestled in the breathtaking Mae Taeng Valley, about an hour north of Chiang Mai, Elephant Nature Park is a place where elephants no longer work for humans. Instead, a team of full-time staff and Park volunteers maintain the Park and care for the elephants.
At Elephant Nature Park, elephants are allowed to roam unfettered, eating and playing as much as they like along the way. They can wander down to the river for a bit of a splash or a roll in the mud whenever they need to cool down. They are free to choose their own family group, usually centering around one of the several baby elephants who live at the Park. And they can have as much or as little human interaction as they choose. If you are interested in an unforgettable and moving elephant experience, if you would rather walk beside an elephant than ride on top of one, then Elephant Nature Park is the ideal place to visit.