Venture into the jungle and walk with elephants while feeding them and observe instinctual elephant behavior
CARE FOR ELEPHANTS
This elephant sanctuary provides a caring home to three elephants now retired from a life of arduous work in the logging industry and elephant riding. The elephants living here now get to spend much of the day doing what comes naturally – roaming through the jungle, foraging for wild vegetation, bathing in the river, giving themselves a mud bath, scratching against trees, and socializing with each other. At this project, an emphasis is placed on providing visitors with insights into caring for elephants, their habits, and how to interact with them respectfully.
The program offers day trips where a small group of visitors accompanied by a tour guide has the opportunity to walk through the jungle in the presence of relaxed elephants and experience being close to these enchanting animals. Guests spend time with the elephants feeding them fruit and vegetables, bathing them, and observing them in nature while they forage in the forest.
On days when project owner, Ben walks with visitors he will take professional high quality photos of guests which will be available for download. A link will be sent to each person’s Instagram account and visitors will receive photographs of themselves or their group as part of the program.
The tour includes a visit to Elephant Nature Park at the end of the day where you can enjoy watching the resident herds relaxing in the late afternoon. It is hoped that over time, a growing number of people will embrace the opportunity to be with elephants interacting freely with each other in their jungle home.
Ethical Elephant Sanctuary
Walk with Elephants
Feed the Elephants
Observe the Elephants
Visit Elephant Nature Park
Number of Guests: 9
Number of Elephants: 3
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Moderate
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 12+
* Minimum of 2 people required for this tour to proceed
Adults & Children 12+: 6,000 Thai Baht
Adults & Children 12+
About Your Trip
Start: 8:00am – 8:30am mini-van pick up from your Chiang Mai city hotel, or from our office at 7:45am. If staying out of town (outside the middle ring-road) additional charges apply. Please advise on your reservation form.
Travel Time: Around 90 minutes (safety talk en route to project).
Return: Arrive back in Chiang Mai city 5:00pm – 5.30pm.
Baggage Allowance: One small day pack per person.
What to Bring: Hat, sunscreen, sandals/flip flops, change of clothing (as you may get muddy or wet), towel, walking shoes, camera & insect repellent.
Operational Months: All year round.
Age Suitability: Adults & children over 12 – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Moderate – walking over high uneven terrain in potentially muddy conditions for about an hour.
Topography: Forest, river, hillside & valley.
Extra Activities: Includes a visit to Elephant Nature Park in the afternoon.
Location: Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai (CNX) – we recommend you stay in Chiang Mai city the night before your visit. Please note that we cannot collect you from Chiang Mai Airport – only from your Chiang Mai city hotel or guesthouse.
Booking Details: Bookings close at 5pm (GMT+7) on the day before the date of your tour if made in person at our office, or 24 hours in advance if booking online. A 30% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your booking. The balance can be paid at our office in Chiang Mai or or by cash to the tour guide when they collect you from your hotel on the day of your tour.
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Sai Thong was born in 1967 and used to work as a logging elephant in Tak Province. When logging was banned, Sai Thong was brought to work at a trekking camp in Pattaya giving rides to tourists for many years. She has multiple scars on her body caused by injuries from dragging logs and also developed back problems as well as damaged skin from the saddle. As a result of the mistreatment she endured for so long, she was traumatized, and even today, is scared of other elephants and animals except for her two friends, Mae Dok and Thad Dao. Sai Thong was rescued by Ben at Care for Elephants on January 26, 2018 and travelled on a truck for about 20 hours from Chonburi Province to Chiang Mai. After arriving at her new home, it took Sai Thong a while to adapt to her new life and be comfortable around the other elephants. Sai Thong’s teeth are worn down so she needs to be given food that is easy to chew. Each day rice banana balls are prepared for her - a healthy treat that she really enjoys. Sai Thong is more relaxed now and has developed a close relationship with Mae Dok and Thad Dao. She now spends her days wandering in the forest foraging with her friends and swimming in the river and enjoying fruit treats including watermelon, bananas, as well as occasional fruit cakes.
Mae Dok is a senior female elephant who is 65 years old. She used to give rides to tourists in Kanchanaburi before being rescued. She has two beautiful tushes (small tusks), which lead some people to think that she is a male elephant. She has a kind nature and is very gentle and relaxed. Her best friends are Sai Thong and Thad Dao. Even though she is an old elephant, she is young at heart and loves to play, and still eats enthusiastically. Mae Dok enjoys all kinds of fruit and vegetables, but especially likes watermelon, bananas, and bamboo shoots. Mae Dok spend her days with her best friends; wandering in the forest, swimming in the river, or playing mud. During Covid times Mae Dok has shared quite a few amazing fruit cakes, made by Ben at Care for Elephants, with her friends in beautiful forested surroundings.
Thad Dao is a beautiful 45 year old female elephant. Before being rescued she did elephant riding at a trekking camp in Kanchanaburi. Thad Dao is good-natured and very friendly, despite being mistreated in the past. She loves vegetables, but her favorite foods are watermelon and bananas. She is a very clever elephant who seems to have a good instinct for what is going on around her, including when food is about to be served. Thad Dao eats very fast and when she finishes her food, sometimes tries to pinch Sai Thong’s food. She has developed a close bond with Mae Dok and Sai Thong and these 3 elephants enjoy hanging out together, foraging in the forest, or swimming in the river. Over the past year and a half Thad Dao has enjoyed quite a few fruit cakes with her friends, Sai Thong and Mae Dok, thanks to the incrible cakes created at Care for Elephants.
Life During Covid at Care for Elephants
At Care for Elephants the beautiful herd – Sai Thong, Mae Doh and Thad Dao spend their days wandering foraging in the nearby forest, taking a swim together in the river and then covering themselves with dirt and mud. These three old elephants used to work for years in logging and later in trekking giving rides to tourists before being rescued.
In addition to eating natural food the elephants need to be fed a diet of fruit including bananas and watermelon and they especially love health balls made with cooked rice and corn, mashed bananas, salt, rice husks, protein powder and tamarind. Being older elephants with worn down teeth the elephants here need to be given soft fruit such as watermelon, papaya and pineapple with the skin removed and cooked pumpkin which is soft for them to eat. The elephants are also given grass and cornstalks every day and have been treated to a few fruit cakes in the last couple of months thanks to some kind hearted supporters.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic halted tourism there were almost no visitors to Care for Elephants for 2 years. The elephants are cared for with dedication by Ben, but with no guests it is difficult to provide for them sufficiently. Elephants need to consume vast quantities of food each day, and so during these challenging times if you are able to help, please consider supporting these beautiful older elephants.
Support Sai Thong
Support the Herd at Care for Elephants
Amazing Elephant Fruit Cakes made by Care for Elephants
The owner of this project, Ben, grew up in a village near Elephant Nature Park. This gave him the opportunity to witness the evolution of the Park, where the emphasis is on the well-being of the growing number of rescued elephants being rehabilitated there. After graduating from university, Ben decided to learn more about elephants, so spent a couple of years working at ENP, where he acquired knowledge about caring for elephants with compassion under the model of ethical elephant tourism. In 2015, Ben opened Care for Elephants, where he applies the same principles of care and dedication to ensure the welfare of the elephants. The project is now home to three older female elephants, Sai Thong, Mae Dok and Thad Dao, all retired from many laborious years of elephant riding, as well as logging when they were younger. Ben has a passion for imparting knowledge about the elephants to visitors — from their diet, habits, and idiosyncrasies — to how to interact with them respectfully and safely. He is also very creative - makes beautifully artistic elephant fruit cakes with his partner, Jin and takes great photos & videos of the elephants.