Sleepover at Elephant Sanctuary | Pt 1.

It’s taken me a long time to write this – it’s so difficult trying to sum up these two days into one blog! But one thing I can say, is that I feel very privileged to have had this experience, and it’s one I think anyone should be able to do at least once in their life.

Staying at an elephant sanctuary in Northern Thailand allows you to to feed, play and bathe with these gentle giants. The sanctuary we visited is split into different camps, and we were put in Camp 1, a hidden valley in the mountains that felt like something from the Land before Time. I might be biased, but we saw another 4 camps throughout our trip, and Camp 1 was by far the most remote and the most beautiful. A fast flowing river carved it’s way through the bottom of the valley, rushing over rocks and spilling out into large, lazy pools that were made for jumping in, shaded by banana groves.

The elephants themselves were nothing like I expected. But then, I don’t know what I expected really. They were huge! I was a little wary at first because of their size, but you quickly realise how gentle and aware they are. They are happiest when being fed (aren’t we all) and are more than happy to chill there while you stroke them/give them a hug/be overly needy with them. It was heartbreaking to think of what abuse these elephants had been through, but so rewarding to see how much love and affection they now get.

After a full day of elephant loving, we journeyed to another camp back down the mountains, where we would stay overnight. Our accommodation was a shared wooden hut, which sounds awful, but was actually really cosy, and felt like a den! There were only about 8 of us staying overnight, which made for a fun evening camp of food, drinks and games. Come 9pm, we were all ready to drop, and with weary bodies we climbed into bed. The next day would bring us jungle treks, natural water slides and of course, more elephant adventures.

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  • Ah, not necessarily. I mention in Part 2 of our elephant trip that I’m not convinced that the sanctuary is 100% there for the elephants. it’s a tricky discussion because they are better than riding, but maybe not as perfect as they would have you think.

  • Vyjay Rao

    Staying overnight in the elephant sanctuary must indeed have been a very satisfying and interesting experience. The elephants look lovely and I am sure they are well looked after and are at peace. What an amazing time you seem to have had with the animals.

  • JoAnnah Thompson

    Looks like a wonderful experience, being with one of the most revered animals! Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • That’s really a great experience. One of my fave bloggers also love elephants and she felt emotional staying there. I’m not a fan of the animal, but I can see in you guys the happiness of this experience. =)

  • Christina

    That looks like an incredible experience. To be able to experience elephants like that would be amazing. It is sad what poachers and hunters do to wild animals.

  • Taiss Nowrouzi

    What a great experience it is indeed! We went there just for the day and had a blast! I would love to spend the night there like you did and get to go on a trek and spend more time with the elephants! I will have to do that next time i’m in Chiang Mai.

  • Map Camera Travel

    This is quite adventurous to stay in elephant sanctuary but i can imagine how wonderful experience it could have been for you. Lovely pictures and hope you had great fun there.

  • Fairytale Studios

    I am sure it might be too adventurous and lovely to stay in an Elephant sanctuary. Elephants are my favorite mammals. I am amazed how close you got to them and touched; I am a bit scared of them though. But I understand they might be trained to be friendly. Beautiful pictures. Loved the video.

  • Savannah Cheri Forster

    Aww that’s so cool! I visited an elephant sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai when I was in Thailand, but didn’t get the opportunity to spend the night! Swimming with the elephants was SO cool. I would love to stay over! Can’t wait to read more about this 🙂

  • Shaily

    Wow! This is such a splendid experience. The elephants look happy and affectionate. Bathing with elephants seems to be so much fun. I went to Thailand last month and it was quite heart-rending to see the miserable plight of the animals. Glad to see these lovely creatures are treated right. The wooden hut is so cute and cozy. I would love to spend a night there. 🙂

  • Constance

    That looks like such a fun experience! They look so happy too, I’d love to do this in Thailand someday!

  • Wow some cool moments with gentle creatures! One can indeed get close to them safely. Here, close to Bangalore we have one similar place. Not all are wild some can be tamed.

  • What a wonderful experience to spend time with gentle elephants. I’ve seen Thai elephants in the Ong Bak movies, I didn’t know it was possible to be so close to them in real life! To bathe with them must be such a unique experience.

    • Yeah, the sanctuaries allow you to get right up close with these gentle giants <3

  • Kathy VA

    Going with someone special must have made the experience more fun. I like how the mud tattooed your body, hahahaha. And I like idea of cuddling elephants all day. Definitely, the elephant sanctuary would be an experience I’d love.

    • Yeah, it certainly was <3 Haha yeah that mud got everywhere!

  • Dada KS

    Ohhh I know that Chiang Mai is known for elephants and I am actually Thai myself but I have never been on an elephant santuary before! This is my kind of vacation spending the night in a simple hut in the jungle, having a jungle trek and slide on natural rock slides. But the best part must be to cozy with those cute elephants. My two years old daughter would love it to! We arr not going back to Thailand for another year but for next visit we will for sure!

    • What! You need to get yourself to one! You’d love the jungle hut and trek, it was one of my favourite parts of the trip, And children will definitely love it – it’s a great way to show them these amazing creatures in a respectful and loving way 🙂 Plus it’s an experience they’ll never ever forget

  • Suma Shah

    Oh this is such an amazing experience! The camp in lush jungles of Thailand along with elephants to play along with makes it a perfect trip. I would love to visit the elephant sanctuary just enjoy a day with elephants.

    • Definitely recommend it! The location is absolutely stunning too 🙂

  • I have heard mixed things about what they do to the elephants at these sanctuaries. I guess since you stayed there, you could see that they were well treated. That is actually good to know. I wouldn’t mind spending some time with these gentle creatures myself.

    • Yes, I had heard the same too. I’ll talk about it in a later post about reservations I have with some sanctuary practices, but on the whole, they provide a real alternative to elephant riding. They have a life filled with so much love and affection now, it’s beautiful to be part of that.

  • Marlies Wolters

    Sleeping at an elephant Sanctuary must be such a better experience than to just quickly visit. Are they rescued elephants? Bathing them must be such a connecting experience. Your outfit matches the Thai vibe!

    • Yes they are! They have all been rescued from the tourism trade/logging/circus work. Haha it does match! That’s because they gave us traditional woven Karen shirts to wear for the day 🙂

  • Aww what a great post! I’m glad the elephants are well treated in this sanctuary – I had a very similar experience in Thailand in the year 2014. My favorite part was being able to bath with the elephant, I was so excited 🙂 I didnt get to sleepover though haha Safe travels! – Ella

    • Thanks Ella! Yes it’s amazing isn’t it, I think the mud bath and river bathing was my favourite part too. The elephants loved it too 🙂

  • Oh God! You got me hooked in the topic itself! For someone who loved elephants like me, this is just so awesome! Getting to hug and kiss these huge mammals would be such an awesome thing to do!

    • It is! If you love elephants you would LOVE the sanctuary. It’s such a respectful place too, they listen to the animals and give them lots of love and affection. It’s a wonderful place 🙂

  • Marcie

    It’s so amazing that you got this opportunity! I really wanted to do this when we went to Thailand, but couldn’t make it up there. This post makes me want to bring my kids here in a few years so they can experience this!

    • Your kids would love it! There was a Swedish family in my group with kids and you could just tell they were having a life changing experience. So amazing to see. I hope you make it up there with your kids one day

  • I’m always wary of animal tourism and always try to go with reputable tour operators. That being said, the elephants here look well cared after. I’m sure you all have so many memories to treasure!

    • Yes, I usually avoid animal tourism like the plague. But I had heard great things about the sanctuary, and although there are elements that make me wary for it’s future (I’m going to cover that in a later blog post), it is an infinitely more comfortable, relaxed and loved life these elephants now lead. Lots of memories to last a lifetime that’s for sure.

  • Lisa Rivera

    It’s good to know there are places where the animals are treated better. I was so disappointed when I went to Thailand and saw all the elephant shows, rides etc. I know better now, and will never contribute to that industry again. These animals are just magnificent!

    • I know, it’s heartbreaking to see. I do believe the elephant shows and rides will eventually die out as more and more people realise the abuse it entails. But it takes time unfortunately. They are indeed magnificent creatures!

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↠ a travelogue of adventures ↠ travelling the world with my love and working as we go. these are our stories.

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