For about one week, I was a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park. During that time, I did everything from shoveling poo to being blessed by a shaman to becoming part of the heard and spending time with elephants up-close, to singing “Que Sera, Sera” as they fell asleep. There were tears of joy and tears of heartbreak.
And lots of photos.
Situated on 30 acres about an hour north of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Elephant Nature Park is a gorgeous enclave where elephants rescued from the tourism industry and illegal logging industries and more, are able to live their remaining lives in peace and free from abuse.
The lodging is not glamorous, but I loved my room in the primitive Palace structure.
Particularly the views that include elephants in the background …
And even those that don’t.
Beyond the lodging, the other areas where volunteers spend time are vibrant, rustic and beautiful, too.
There is also the stunning tropical land inhabited by the elephants to gaze at all day long.
The Elephant Kitchen
The elephant kitchen at the park is a huge structure, packed with shelves stocked with fruits that need constant rotation. Elephants can eat upwards of 700 pounds of vegetation each day. With more than 30 elephants in the park, that’s 21,000 pounds of food being moved from the kitchen and other areas to the searching trunks each day!
There kitchen includes bunches and bunches and bunches of bananas …
… Sugarcane and more. Volunteers fill buckets for each elephant and then help deliver them to the feeding platforms and nearby shelters for mealtimes.
Â For the elephants who can’t chew the fruit, volunteers roll banana balls.
Life at the Park
Chores, like shoveling, are daily tasks at Elephant Nature Park. Volunteers shovel into a trailer and then a staff member removes the waste.
But, there are also other aspects of the park that should be mentioned, like the boards which honor the mahouts.
The mahouts and others at the park also lend their talents to the gift shop, where hand-carved renditions of the park’s elephants are prominently displayed.
Aside from the elephants at the park, water buffalo, cats, dogs and more call this place “home.”
It’s also home to larger than life insects!
Want to see elephants? Stay tuned!