Visiting Thailand and not seeing the gorgeous elephants that live there would be a huge mistake. But please please please don’t be fooled by the tourist trap elephant camps or so called ‘sanctuaries’. Sadly even in 2018 there are so many elephants being mistreated. Do your research and find out what really goes on behind closed doors.
If you are heading to Thailand any time soon and want to see gorgeous, happy, healthy elephants let me tell you about the incredible experience that I had at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket. I first visited the company back in 2016 at their Chiangmai camp and loved it so much I brought my whole family back to visit in Phuket. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an eco tourism project, home to mistreated elephants from logging, circuses and riding companies.
There are more elephants in captivity than there are in the wild in Thailand
At Elephant Jungle Sanctuary your whole day revolves around what the elephants love… food, mud baths and splashing around. Our day at Phuket Camp 1 began with a super informative speech by one of the volunteers. Visitors get to learn about why riding elephants is not healthy for them, how elephants ears are torn in the logging industry and many shocking facts like there are more elephants in captivity than there are in the wild in Thailand.
The lovely volunteers then tell you about the elephants at the camp and their individual personality traits. Pimpa was a personal favourite of mine, she’s 38 years old, has gorgeous pigmentation along her trunk and was soooo chilled. Finally, after all that chatting you get to meet the elephants for real! There are no chains, no ropes and absolutely no hooks. Just the elephants, volunteers and lots of food to keep them happy. Some elephants will let you feed them, some don’t like being fed. The elephants’ Mahouts are more than happy to tell you all about their elephants and you can see there is a strong bond between them.
After eating two huge baskets of fruit each, some of the elephants head off elsewhere while a few of them make their way down to the mud bath. This is where it gets very very messy. Make sure you bring a swimsuit. At Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket I can confirm the elephants seem very happy. They frolicked around in the mud, rolling around like puppies and flicking mud EVERYWHERE. The mud is good for the elephants skin and helps them cool down in the hot weather. Honestly it’s like a spa day but with elephants, I left with super soft skin too. We then rinsed off in a big waterhole and the elephants had a good paddle to wash the mud off.
Once we’d all cleaned up lunch was prepared. There were vegetarian and vegan options, all of which were delicious. Local people set up some stalls selling clothing, ornaments and other souvenirs. (My mum couldn’t resist some of the cute elephant ornaments!)
With full bellies and happy hearts that wrapped up our day at Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket. Off we went back to our hotel with so many sweet memories of our day with the elephants.
To see more of the great work EJS do check them out for yourself: