One of the first sanctuaries for rescued elephants in Chiang Mai, Elephant Nature Park has led the movement to abandon rides and shows and put elephant welfare at the top of the agenda, under the guidance of founder Sangduen (Lek) Chailert. Visits are focused on interaction – the day is spent wandering with mahouts and their charges, helping feed and wash elephants.
As is the case with all of the better elephant camps, the elephants here have been rescued from logging camps and tourist shows. The most rewarding experience is seeing the interaction between the elephants, with baby elephants having trunk tug-of-wars, families enjoying shared mud baths and older elephants taking care of blind and disabled members of the herd.
The main park is in the Mae Taeng valley, 60km from Chiang Mai, and day trips include a vegetarian buffet lunch. Longer volunteering packages are also available.