Spending an entire day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary near Chiang Rai was the highlight of my Thailand adventure. Our group was transported by truck from our hotel. After about an hour and a half in the back we parked on a muddy track deep in the jungle near the Myanmar border
We hiked down a mucky trail, across a bamboo bridge and past a waterfall. Once we arrived at the site, we put on colourful jackets so that our elephant friends would be comfortable with our presence.
We loaded up with bananas and sugar cane. Four elephants happily greeted us, including a pregnant mom and a baby. Feeling a baby elephant move around in utero was a once in a lifetime experience.
The mahouts explained the signs of a contented elephant. Wagging tails and flapping ears demonstrated their comfort level.
We left these four elephants, we joined a group of three more up a hill, including the infamous “Naughty Boy.” I wondered how naughty could a two year elephant be? Well, he was naughty. After we fed them, “Naughty Boy” suddenly yanked down a tree that came crashing in my direction. I managed to escape the majority of the tree fall.
After our lunch, we began to prepare the elephants’ vitamin treats. These treats required us to grate tree bark and mash bananas and wild rice into hand-sized balls. All the while, the seven elephants stood in a line awaiting their treats.
Next came the mud bath. We donned our bathing suits and took off our shoes and walked into a mud pond. We were told to thrown mud at the elephants and then rub it into their skin. Of course, lots of the mud ended up on us. Once the elephants were covered in mud we advanced to a river where we were provided with buckets. We threw water at the elephants until they were clean. Such fun being in the river with the elephants as they enjoyed their cleansing bath.
Feeling totally satisfied, we hiked back up to the trucks. Good bye beautiful animals.