We just got back from the Patara Elephant Farm!!
This was an incredible day that gave us a wonderful and up-close experience with elephants. There are many many different “elephant encounter” type places in Thailand; however, many of those places do not give the elephants the care and attention that Patara provides. They focus on the health care, breeding, and conservation of the elephants. Most of the elephants at Patara have been rescued from circuses, log rolling camps, or from the streets of Thailand. This experience is pretty much the reason why we wanted to stop in Chaing Mai.
We chose to do the “elephant owner for a day” program.
Patara picks you up from your hotel around 7:30, and you take about a 45 minute ride to Patara. When you get there, they explain the philosophy and purpose of this special place. Here, we met the first elephant and got to feed him lots of bananas!
Then, we met our elephants. My elephant’s name was Tipp. She is 13 years old and pregnant (she has about 10 months left to go….elephant gestation is about 18-22 months). I loved her 🙂
Justin’s elephant was named Marie. She is 31 years old. I think Tipp and Marie are friends because they always hung out together!
Patara taught us how to check the health of the elephant by looking at 4 indicators:
Are they wagging their tails/flapping their ears? If so, they are healthy.
Do they have mud of their sides from laying down and sleeping? Apparently, if an elephant is unhealthy, they will not lay down to sleep
Do they have sweat by the toe nails? Sweat is good.
What does the poop look like? Yes, we picked up the poop and checked it for smell, texture, moisture, and color!! (sorry if this is grossing anyone out!)
After that, they taught us some different words/ commands that the elephants understand:
“Bone”= open your mouth for food
“Dee Dee”= good boy/girl
“Ma”= come with me
“Bai”=go when riding the elephant (say while nudging the ears forward with your feet)
“How”=stop (say while pushing your heel against the elephant’s shoulders)
“Jana”=stop doing that (when they were doing something wrong)
There were more, but I’ve already forgotten! Those were the main ones!
We rode the elephants (bareback) for about 45 minutes, then stopped for lunch….which they provided. Riding the elephants was so much FUN! It was kinda nervous the first time I got up. They are pretty big, and I was afraid of falling! Also, Tipp was always flapping her ears, which made me feel a little unsteady. But, I got used to it really quickly and felt very comfortable. We were basically riding uphill most of the time and there was no real path. There was alot of rocks, pits, and dips that these big animals had to navigate, but we we enjoyed every minute of it.
For lunch, they prepared a picnic. There were several different types of sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, fruit, fried bananas, fried chicken, and little baked sweets. Everything was delicious! We gave the leftover bananas and sticky rice to the elephants.
Then we rode for another 20 minutes to the waterfall. Here, the elephants got to drink water and take a bath. It was so fun watching the elephants play in the water! They were loving it! It was so obvious that Patara takes wonderful care of these animals.
After the elephants played, we got in the water with them and cleaned their skin with brushes. It was so much fun and we got soaked!
After getting out of the water, we changed clothes and they drove us to see the baby elephants. One was 2 1/2 months and the other was 3 1/2 months. They were so cute. I couldn’t get over how the mother elephants didn’t mind us playing with their babies. Apparently, Patara employes sleep with the babies and mothers for a while after they are born. So, the moms are very comfortable with humans.
I can’t say enough good things about Patara and how much we enjoyed our day. Although it was one of the more expensive things to do in Chiang Mai, it was totally worth it. The employees were wonderful. Not only do they take their own pictures and video (given to you at the end of the day….and included in the price), but they also used our camera to take a ton of pictures for us. We pretty much had a personal photographer documenting the whole day. This was an added bonus for us because it has been difficult for us to get pictures together.
Everything about it was great!!!!