KAREN ELEPHANT PROJECT
Located in a picturesque part of Northern Thailand south of Chiang Mai city, this project was formed in cooperation with a Karen family who has cared for and worked with elephants for over 25 years. After changing into traditional Karen clothing, guests cut pumpkin and sugar cane and get to know the elephants a little while feeding them. The group will then cross a stream and venture into the jungle on foot with the two gentle female elephants for a 2 hour trek, stopping to watch them forage along the way. After a vegetarian buffet lunch, learn to make healthy treats for the elephants made from rice, pumpkin, banana, tamarind, and salt. Later, bathe the elephants in a nearby stream, followed by a mud bath, which nourishes and protects their skin. As a parting goodbye, feed the elephants the healthy snacks that you and the group prepared earlier.
In the past, the family had to lease their elephants to tourist camps where activities included elephant riding and performing in shows. When they heard about the ‘Saddle Off’ model based on compassion, with elephant -friendly activities, they were eager to join so that a better life could be provided for their elephants. Thanks to this project, the elephants have been able to return to natural surroundings at the edge of the jungle where they are much healthier and happier. The resident elephants are now well fed, no longer give rides or perform, and are free to relax, socialize, and graze in the pastures.
The family buys food for the elephants and visitors from neighboring farmers and local Karen weavers are invited to makes baskets and traditional textiles woven on hand looms at the project, all which helps to support the local community. By visiting this project you are making it possible for elephants to live a more natural life and helping preserve Karen culture.
Spend time with elephants in beautiful natural surroundings and gain insights into elephant behavior from a Karen family who has a long tradition of caring from elephants.
Walk with Elephants
Number of Guests: 8
Number of Elephants: 2
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Moderate
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 7+
Adults & Children 12+: 2,500 Thai Baht
Children Aged 7-12: 1,250 Thai Baht
Adults & Children 7+
About Your Trip
Start: 8:00am – 8:30am pick up from your Chiang Mai city hotel, or from our office at 7:45am. If staying out of town (outside the middle ring-road) additional charges apply. Please advise on your reservation form.
Travel Time: Around 90 minutes (educational video about Asian elephants / safety video en route to project).
Travel Details: Transfer from air-con minivan to 4WD pickup for the last 5 mins of the journey in the rainy season.
Return: Arrive back in Chiang Mai city 4:00pm – 4.30pm.
Baggage Allowance: One small day pack per person.
What to Bring: Hat, sunscreen, sandals/flip flops, change of clothing (as you may get muddy or wet), towel, walking shoes, camera & insect repellent.
Operational Months: All year round.
Age Suitability: Adults and children over 7 – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Moderate – walk across a shallow stream into the forest along trails with some steep sections for about 2 hours.
Topography: Grassland, jungle, hills & river.
Extra Activities: Watch local women weaving traditional Karen textiles.
Location: Mae Wang, South of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai (CNX) – we recommend you stay in Chiang Mai city the night before your visit. Please note that we cannot collect you from Chiang Mai Airport – only from your Chiang Mai city hotel / guesthouse.
Booking Details: Bookings close at 5pm (GMT+7) on the day before the date of your tour if made in person at our office or 24 hours in advance if booking online. A 30% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your booking. The balance must be paid at our office in Chiang Mai no later than 5pm on the day before your tour.
This project is owned by Boon Paeng and run with the help of his Karen family who have a long history working with and caring for elephants. The elephants used to be leased to elephants camps which took a toll on their physical and mental health. While it saddened the family, they didn’t see any other alternatives at the time, being unable to meet to the substantial costs of caring for elephants.The family was happy to join our ‘Saddle Off’ initaive so that their elephants could return home, where they are surrounded by nature, and are free to roam, socialize, and forage. This project supports the local community by allowing Karen weavers to sell their handmade textiles to visitors and buying food for the elephants and guests from local farmers. They also plant crops on their land to help sustain the elephant’s insatiable appetites. In an effort to help preserve Karen culture there are plans to create a small museum displaying Karen artifacts and textiles. The family have been encouraged to see the elephants enjoying a more natural life and how much guests to their project appreciate being with elephants in a way that is considerate of their well-being.