Experience the wonder of being with elephants in a beautiful natural setting as part of a small group, accompanied by an English speaking tour guide. This project is run by a Karen family who have lived and worked with elephants for generations and are now offering ethical elephant tours under our ‘Saddle Off’ program.
At this project the elephants are now enjoying a better life, freed from elephant riding or performing in shows, with time to forage, roam, and interact as a herd. To witness the intimate relationship between a mother elephant and her young is a magical experience.
Guests will enjoy the day with the elephants in nature – feeding them fruit and pumpkin and walking with the elephants up forested hillside trails while handing them bananas. At the top of the hill, there is an observation area where you can watch the elephants forage and interact.
Following a vegetarian buffet lunch, help prepare healthy treats for the elephants made from rice husks, tamarind, bananas, and salt. Afterwards, take a short walk with the elephants to a beautiful waterfall shaded by the forest canopy where you can bathe the elephants and watch them play together in the mud pit. Before saying goodbye, visitors feed the health balls prepared earlier to the elephants.
The family grows rice in the rainy season and has a small banana plantation to provide food for the elephants, which is supplemented by buying food from village farmers, helping to support the local community.
Spend time in a remote jungle location where you can observe a mother elephant caring for her new born baby and learn about Karen traditions
Walk with Elephants
Number of Guests: 12
Number of Elephants: 3
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Moderate
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 7+
Adults & Children 12+: 2,500 Thai Baht
Children Aged 7-12: 1,250 Thai Baht
Adults & Children 7+
About Your Trip
Start: 8:00am – 8:45am pick up from your Chiang Mai city hotel, or from our office at 7:45am. Please advise on your reservation form if staying out of town as additional charges may apply.
Travel Time: Around 1 hour 45 minutes (educational video about Asian elephants / safety video en route to project).
Travel Details: Transfer from an air-con minivan to a 4WD vehicle for the last 10 minutes of your journey to the project.
Return: Arrive back in Chiang Mai city 4:00pm – 4:30pm.
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 7 – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Moderate – walking along forest trails for about 1 hours, with some steep sections.
Topography: Grassland, hills, forest & cascading stream.
Location: Mae Wang, South of 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 / 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 should be paid at our Chiang Mai office by 8pm on the day before your visit to Karen Elephant Retirement.
The owner of this project, Gae, is from a Karen family whose involvement with elephants spans several generations. The adult female elephant at the project used to work in logging and later elephant riding. Gae witnessed how much stress this placed them under and the adverse effect it had on their physical and mental health. Since transitioning to our Saddle Off model in late 2017, she has witnessed a rejuvenation in the spirit of the elephants and an improvement in their overall health. This project provides caring home to a mother elephant, Mae Keaw, her new born baby girl, Belle, and her son, Somboon, born in 2013. The elephants here are enjoying their life in nature together; free to interact, play, and forage. On their land, the family grows elephant grass, bananas and rice in the rainy season. They also buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers for the elephants and give them time to forage in the nearby jungle where they have access to wild bamboo as well as native plants that are important for their health. Gae hopes that a growing number of people will visit her project to help secure a better life for these beautiful elephants.