Travel Diary: Elephant Nature Park

My sister and I were adamant about spending a day with elephants while we were in Chiangmai. It was non-negotiable and we were determined to meet these gentle giants. Choosing where to do it, however, was the most important thing. There are plenty of elephant camps in Chiangmai, but among them, Elephant Nature Park is the only sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants. Rather than giving shows, fancy gimmicks and elephant rides that are usually painful and harmful to elephants, they focus on healing, rehabilitation and conservation.

The Elephant Nature Park was founded by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert. She rescues distressed elephants throughout Thailand that include disabled, orphaned, blind, and tortured elephants of all ages. These elephants have gone through so much! Forced to work for street begging, logging, tourism and more, they’re usually abused and malnourished. I actually watched a video about it while I was in the camp. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how these elephants were trained. Their mahouts or owners would torture them by hitting their legs, poking their eyes and tying them to cages for days without feeding them so that they learn to be submissive. Lek either takes them in from owners who give them up voluntarily or buys them so that she can provide these elephants with better care. As expected, most of these elephants arrive with great mental issues aside from their physical wounds, so Lek allows them to heal and live naturally in their self-chosen family groups. She’d build a relationship with them by showering them with love and positive reinforcement. This is how she trains the elephants and this is why we chose to spend our day at her park.

It was beautiful seeing these elephants in their natural element. I got to feed them, bathe them (they bathed me too. LOL), and touch them. It was an experience like no other. One that is most rewarding and has given me great insight as to how elephants are. They are a fiercely loyal and caring bunch. And this is just one of the many reasons why I’ve fallen head over heels in love with them. (I can’t even count how many times I said “awww” whenever a baby elephant walked past me.) The day was already over and I was still on a high from meeting them! It’s definitely the kind of high no elephant show or ride could ever give. Best trip ever!

Cocomo kimono Topshop swimsuit Forever 21 shorts Native shoes

48 Responses to “Travel Diary: Elephant Nature Park”
  1. maebs

    after reading this one, it makes me want to go in there. :) I think your Chiangmai travel would be the best because you tried different things. :) love your outfit! :)

    Reply
  2. Katrin Tuano

    I have a soft heart for animals and I can’t help but feel sad for these gentle giants. I really admire Lek A LOT for founding the park. All animals should be treated this way and this post is also an eye opener to people. Animals should be loved and taken cared of, not torturing them to make profit out of them. This travel diary is one of your bests! <3 A travel with a purpose makes it more meaningful. The question now is, do you still like pigs? Lol!

    PS: I love your swimsuit and I could really see how happy you are meeting the elephants :)

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Of course I like pigs still! Haha! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. We need more people like Lek really. She is a gem :)

      Reply
  3. Keith

    Did you ever take photography lessons? Why does your photos look so professional? Anyway, very nice blog! Makes me want to travel :D

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Thanks Keith! I’ve never. I just ask around and learn from trial and error :)

      Reply
  4. Maica

    After reading your blog here, I really couldn’t help myself but cry. I hate hearing these sort of things happening because I’m an animal lover. I can’t believe that people used to poke elephants eyes while training them! That one was really ouchy and also spanking them was too much to see! Good thing is that they made a rehabilitation for the maltreated and abused poor elephants. :'( I really admire these people who help in taking care of these poor creatures. This trip, as I could say was one of your very best adventure trip Ate Cams! I hope I could go there too one day!

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Thanks Maica! I know, I was actually teary-eyed while watching the documentary. I hope more people become aware of this kind of abuse. You should definitely visit the camp! You’ll love it :)

      Reply
  5. Mariel Grace

    beauty and travel with a good cause.. YEY!!! nakaka-inspire… <3 :) and nga pala, you have the sweetest smile here!!!! do it more often po!! :) ang cute cute mo dito.. plus the swimsuit pa..ready makipagbasaan eh.. God bless Ate Cams! ;)

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Haha! Thanks Mariel! :) I really prepared my outfit for this. Ganun ka-excited! :)

      Reply
  6. Quen

    Ahhhhh! I’ll make sure to add this in our itinerary too.. Thanks for always sharing lots of infor in your blog Camille! :)

    Reply
  7. sibyl

    I admire people like Lek. My dream is to work at UNICEF or some organizations. This is one of my favorite blog posts you have :)))))) Thank you Ate Camille for sharing your blog, means sooooo much to me <3

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Thank you Sibyl! It’s one of my favorite experiences to share too so far :)

      Reply
  8. Leilani Sonza

    Thank you Camille for posting and making the people aware of places such as this! #notoanimalcruelty

    Reply
  9. Esobel

    Hi there Camille! This made me “wow” and “aww” since I’m a biologist. Natutuwa ako because the ever stylish Camille Co bathed elephants in a rescue center. :)
    I remember the elephants in Manila Zoo and they’re not given good care since the holding facility is too small. :(
    Anyway, I hope I can visit that park soon. :)

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      You must! I can totally tell you’ll enjoy :) It saddens me we don’t have proper facilities here.

      Reply
  10. Clang

    Aww, so cute! Thanks for sharing this. We’ll be traveling to Chiang Mai for the holidays and I’ve been looking for places we could visit.

    PS: I’m a huge fan of yours :D

    Reply
  11. Phil

    Thank you Camille! You are so fortunate to mingle with these wonderful mammals, and we’re also fortunate and very grateful for the beautiful shared images! :)

    Reply
  12. Keith

    Absolutely beautiful. Definitely one of my favorite fashion icon and blogger. Care to share what camera and lens you use in your photos?

    Reply
  13. Clariss

    aww I feel so sorry to those elephants :( Good thing someone thought of rescuing them and nurturing them! :) kudos to Lek :) and to you too ate cams for choosing this park instead of the others that were for a show. good thing you weren’t scared of them too haha!

    ate cams, I’m just curious, how do you find those rare online shops? Do you really search for them? oh and last thing haha, which branch of topshop did you bought your swimsuit? :)

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      I was scared at first but they’re so cute you warm up to them easily :) As for my swimsuit, I bought this moooooonths ago so I doubt it’s still available. Blogs and IG are great places to find rare stores :)

      Reply
  14. Anne

    Organizations with a purpose! Two thumbs up to the Elephant Nature Park. I think the experience of having been able to feed and to bathe (and be bathed by) the elephants feels more rewarding than having to jump on their backs for a ride. Sure it would be fun for us but if it hurts the elephant along the way I’d rather not. It looks adorable to see them having fun.

    -Anne’s Scribbles and Doodles-

    Reply
    • Camille Co

      Yeah I agree! And it’s nice to know more about them and those horrible practices.

      Reply
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