Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai: A Must-Visit Sanctuary Experience

Elephant Nature Park is a unique conservation project located in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand. Established in the 1990s, the park serves as a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants, providing a safe and natural home for these endangered species. Founded by Lek Chailert, a prominent figure in elephant conservation, the park has gained popularity and recognition for its ethical approach in caring for and protecting these majestic animals.

Encompassing over 250 acres of land, Elephant Nature Park is situated about 60 kilometers from Chiang Mai’s Old Town. Visitors can spend their day learning about the elephants, observing them in their natural habitat, and participating in volunteer programs to help maintain and improve the sanctuary. With its main focus on elephant welfare and sustainability, Elephant Nature Park has become a leading example of responsible tourism in the region, inviting guests from around the world to be a part of their ongoing efforts.

History of the Park

Elephant Nature Park was established in the 1990s in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand, with the aim of providing a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants. The park was co-founded by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, whose Thai name “Lek” translates to “Small” in English (Wikipedia).

Over the years, the park has been involved in dozens of rescue operations and has provided a natural home to the endangered species, emphasizing ethical and responsible interactions with elephants. In 2013, the park expanded by opening an offshoot, the Erawan Elephant Retirement Park, in western Thailand. By 2016, additional branch elephant parks were established in Surin, Thailand, and in Cambodia (Wikipedia).

Today, the park serves as a refuge for elephants rescued from various unfortunate situations and promotes sustainable tourism, educating visitors about the importance of elephant conservation and responsible practices (CNN). The Elephant Nature Park has become a recognized symbol of ethical elephant treatment and attracts numerous visitors eager to witness and interact with elephants in a respectful way.

Elephant Conservation Efforts

Elephant Nature Park, located in Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand, is a unique conservation project established in the 1990s. The park aims to provide a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants in distress and has been involved in numerous rescue operations, offering a natural home to the endangered species(source).

The founder of the park, Lek Chailert, is widely known for her work in elephant conservation. The park, which covers over 250 acres, is considered one of the most ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand (source). Visitors to the park can witness and participate in various conservation-focused activities and learn about the importance of protecting the elephant population in Thailand.

Some of the key initiatives at Elephant Nature Park include:

  • Rescuing and rehabilitating elephants from abusive situations, including circuses, logging and street begging.
  • Conducting educational programs and workshops for tourists and locals to spread awareness about elephant conservation.
  • Providing veterinary care for the elephants and promoting proper healthcare practices.
  • Collaborating with local communities and authorities to develop sustainable solutions for human-elephant conflicts.

Visitors to the park can participate in various activities, such as feeding, bathing, and observing the elephants in their natural habitat. There are also opportunities for volunteering at the park and helping out with different conservation tasks(source).

Activities and Programs

Elephant Nature Park, located in Chiang Mai Province, is a unique conservation project that has been providing sanctuary and rescue operations for endangered elephants since the 1990s. The park offers various activities and programs for visitors to experience and learn about these gentle giants in their natural habitat.

One of the main activities available at the park is the Elephant SkyWalk program. This single-day visit includes an additional herd viewing, a walk in a separate area on an elevated boardwalk, and a visit to the main Elephant Nature Park. Visitors can observe the elephants from a safe distance while learning about their stories and the conservation efforts in the park. The SkyWalk visit starts early in the morning, with pickups from hotels in Chiang Mai city between 7:30am and 8:00am, ensuring a full day of immersive experiences.

Volunteering at Elephant Nature Park is another popular option for those looking to make a real contribution to elephant conservation. Volunteer programs at the park start on Mondays, with a return time of 5:30pm, and cost 12,000 THB per person. Children are not allowed to participate in these programs. Volunteers have the opportunity to engage in various tasks, such as preparing food for the elephants, helping with cleaning and maintenance, and learning more about the plight of Asian elephants.

On top of the SkyWalk and volunteering opportunities, there are other activities available for visitors at Elephant Nature Park that cater to different interests and schedules. These can include single-day visits, overnight stays, and more. For more information about specific activities, it is recommended to visit the official Elephant Nature Park website.

How to Visit

Elephant Nature Park is located approximately 60km outside of Chiang Mai Old Town, and it takes about an hour to drive there (CK Travels). To visit the park, you have various options, including day visits and overnight stays.

For a single day visit, the cost is 2,500 Thai Baht (around $70) (Buddy The Traveling Monkey). To reserve your spot, you need to pay a deposit of 1,000 Thai Baht on the Elephant Nature Park website and the remaining 1,500 Baht in cash at the park. Day visits usually include pickup and drop-off from your hotel in Chiang Mai.

If you want to immerse yourself in the experience, consider an overnight stay. The Overnight Visit package costs 5,800 Baht per adult and includes two full days at the park, a sleepover, and all meals provided (Explore Shaw). Pickups for overnight stays are typically done around 7:30am from your hotel in Chiang Mai.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that Elephant Nature Park is a popular destination, so it is recommended to book your visit in advance through their official website.

Fees and Accommodations

The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai offers various options for visitors interested in spending time with the gentle giants. A Short Park Visit includes fees for adults at THB 2,500 (INR 5,442) and for children at THB 1,250 (INR 2,721).

There are several hotels near the Elephant Nature Park for visitors to choose from. Notable options include We Briza Hotel Chiangmai and Pingviman Hotel, which are located about 49 km and 50 km away from the park, respectively.

For those who prefer a more immersive experience at the park, there is an option to volunteer. This includes 6 nights of basic lodging within the park premises. Volunteers will be provided with a roommate, a shower facility, mosquito nets, and a ceiling fan for cooling. Electricity is also available, making the accommodations practical for a comfortable stay.

The park is open from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm, with the best time to visit being from 09:00 am to 04:00 pm. When planning your trip, consider the available accommodations, fees, and park timings to make the most of your experience at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

Responsible Tourism Tips

When visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, it’s essential to practice responsible tourism to ensure the well-being of the elephants and support the local community. Here are some tips to help you be a responsible tourist during your visit:

1. Choose ethical elephant experiences: Rather than riding on elephants or watching them perform, opt for more humane interactions, such as observing them in their natural habitat or assisting in their feeding and bathing routines. Ethical elephant sanctuaries like Elephant Nature Park prioritize the animals’ welfare and do not allow harmful activities.

2. Support conservation efforts: By visiting an ethical sanctuary, you are directly contributing to the conservation of these beautiful creatures. You can also participate in volunteer programs or donate to organizations that work towards elephant conservation.

3. Respect the local culture: It’s important to be mindful of the customs and traditions of the local people, particularly the Karen Hill Tribe, who have a strong connection to the elephants. Dress modestly, ask permission before taking photographs, and try to learn a few basic words in the local language.

4. Minimize waste: Bring a reusable water bottle, avoid using single-use plastics, and recycle whenever possible. Many ethical sanctuaries, including the Elephant Nature Park, have established waste management systems to keep the environment clean and healthy for the elephants and the surrounding community.

By following these responsible tourism tips, you can contribute to the protection and preservation of elephants in Chiang Mai, creating a positive impact on both the animals and the local people.