I have always loved elephants. Even from a young age I was fascinated by them when I saw them at the zoo, and I had always wanted to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures. I finally got to do just that when I was in Nepal in 2009, and I had an incredible experience playing with a baby elephant at the breeding centre, and then bathing with the elephants in a river at Chitwan National Park.
My love for these incredible creatures had only grown, and when my wife and I decided to backpack through Thailand, I wanted her to be able to have a similar experience.
We booked a typical tour from Chiang Mai, which took us to an elephant camp where we got to go for an elephant trek and watch a show. It was a completely different experience to what I had in Nepal, and both my wife and I really didn’t enjoy it. The whole day was quite sad for us both.
I have sat down to try and write about this day on several occasions, and I simply can’t find the words to describe it. I think that is because I just don’t quite understand exactly what to make of the whole elephant camp thing. All I know is that I didn’t feel happy about being there.
Instead of using words, I have decided to portray the experience using black and white photos, as I think they say more than words can.
I just want to note that I’m not telling you not to go to an elephant camp. The majority of the other tourists there seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly…it’s just not for me.
I later found out about the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, which doesn’t have any riding or shows or anything like that. You can just go and watch, bath and help look after the elephants. Next time I go to Chiang Mai, that’s what I will be doing.
Have you been to an elephant camp? What was your experience like?