Situated high on a grassy hill surrounded by forest in Northern Thailand, this project is home to a small herd of elephants now enjoying a life free of the saddle and other unnatural activities. The owner has welcomed the opportunity to drop elephant riding and embrace a more ethical form of elephant tourism where the elephants can enjoy their lives with time to interact, wander in the grassy fields, forage in the forest. By joining this project as part of a small group you are directly helping to make this transition possible and sustainable, thereby protecting the well-being of the elephants.
The elephant-friendly activities at this project start with dressing in colorful traditional Karen clothing, then cutting sugarcane and feeding it to the appreciative elephants along with their favorite food – bananas. After the feeding session, join the elephants for an easy stroll through the tall grasses and along the forest edge, stopping to watch them forage and take photos from the shade of a hut. On returning from your walk, a vegetarian buffet lunch is served overlooking the valley, after which you will learn to make healthy treats for the elephants by combining a medicinal vine, rice, tamarind, salt, and bananas. Next, walk to the stream to bathe the elephants and then watch them play in the mud pit. The day ends with feeding the elephants the medicinal tamarind-rice balls prepared earlier, as a parting gift.
This elephant tour is suitable for families and provides a fascinating insight into the lives of elephants. The project also helps support the local villages which include Karen, Hmong, and Lanna Thai communities.
Life During Covid at Karen Elephant Serenity
Heng Heng, her mother, Mae Kham Suk and nanny, Kham Noi, spend their days wandering in the grassy field, foraging in the forest, playing in the mud, and cooling off in the stream. Heng Heng, who was born in March 2019, is growing up fast and is learning new skills all the time by watching her mother and nanny. She stills runs to her mother or nanny if she is scared or wants to drink milk and loves sucking on her nanny’s ear for comfort. Even so, she is becoming more independent day by day.
Since the collapse of tourism resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic there have been almost no visitors to Karen Elephant Serenity in almost one year now. We are coming into the dry season in Thailand now, so much of the natural vegetation growing at the project and in the nearby forest, including a field of grass is disappearing. As a result, more food needs to be brought in for the elephants to stop them from becoming too thin.
The project is doing the best they can under difficult circumstances to care for this beautiful elephant family, but without 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, any support you can give would be much appreciated.
Fruit Cakes & Banana Ball Treats at Karen Elephant Serenity
Thanks to some kind supporters, Heng Heng and her family have been treated to banana balls and several cakes over the past few months, which they all love so much. It’s a beautiful sight to watch the elephants appear from the valley where they were playing in the mud or pool and rush excitedly towards their cakes. Heng Heng has developed a strategy of using her feet to break up the porridge-like base to make it easier to then scoop up with her trunk. Mae Kham Suk and Kham Noi who are close friends, work together to effortlessly rip apart the sugarcane frame before munching on the pieces.
Baby Heng Heng on YouTube
Feed the elephants sugarcane & fruit and then take a hillside walk with the elephants, stopping to watch them forage in the tall grass
Feed the Elephants
Walk with Elephants
Observe the Elephants
Number of Guests: 6
Number of Elephants: 3
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Easy
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 4+
Adults & Children 12+: 2,500 Thai Baht
Children Aged 4-12: 1,250 Thai Baht
Adults & Children 4+
About Your Trip
Start: 8:00am – 8:30am 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 (a safety video and elephant documentary will be shown en route to the 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.
Facilities: Gift shop, lunch area, lookout tower, bathrooms, showers, lockers, water dispenser, coffee & tea.
Items Provided: Traditional Karen shirts, boots & ponchos in the rainy season, towels.
Age Suitability: Adults & children over 4 years old – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Easy – leisurely walk with the elephants through the tall grass along the edge of the forest.
Topography: Grasslands, forest, hills & 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 4pm (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 5pm on the day before your tour or by cash to the tour guide when they collect you from your hotel..
Support the Herd at Karen Elephant Serenity
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused severe challenges around the world and has placed extreme limitations on travel. As a result, Karen Elephant Serenity has been closed since March 2020 and has only recently reopened to visitors. We are doing the best that we can to care for the elephants at our project, but need your support. We understand that this is a difficult time for many people around the world and offer our heartfelt sympathy. If you are in a position to help buy food for Heng Heng & her family, any gift would be greatly appreciated – firstname.lastname@example.org
Elephant Fruit Cakes made at Karen Elephant Serenity
This project is owned by Nikon, who used to work at Elephant Nature Park in the past and Pa Udon, who inherited a large area of land from his grandfather, and used to run a nearby elephant trekking camp. They joined the Saddle Off project in February 2018 and Karen Elephant Serenity is now home to a family of elephants enjoying a better life in their retirement from elephant riding. The herd includes Mae Kham Suk, a 40 year female who gave birth in March 2019 to a healthy baby girl, named Heng Heng as well as Kham Noi, a 35 year old female, who has become her nanny. Since joining the project the two adult elephants have formed a close bond and together they are enjoying raising Heng Heng who is so playful and full of life. To provide for the elephants, tall grass is grown at the project, banana trees on nearby land and they also buy fruit from local farmers.
How Karen Elephant Serenity is Eco Friendly & Sustainable
Hand Made & Embroidered Karen Style Bags from Karen Elephant Serenity
During Covid these unique Karen style bags were handmade and beautifully embroidered by hand with the Karen Elephant Serenity logo by Karen women from the village. All funds received were given to support the elephants at Karen Elephant Serenity as well as the Karen women and their families.