Thailand elephant camps, rides & trekking

Elephants had long been inextricably connected to Thai people in different ways; a traditional symbol of monarchy, an essential part of Buddhist art and architecture and a trusted vehicle in a full-scaled battle. However, elephants have another role that is commonly known among Thai people. An entertainer! As the matter of fact, they are quite an entertainer and love to be the center of attention.

There are several elephant camps in Thailand where tourists can see elephant shows. The shows include demonstrations of strength and versatility of the elephant from pulling logs and a tug of war to dancing and drawing. Those who get itchy and cannot sit still can volunteer to be among one of the objects to be picked up by elephant using its trunk.

A more adventurous attempt would be to go for a ride. Visitors can enjoy elephant rides on various trekking expenditures - sitting on a wooden seat fastened on back of a 3-metre high elephant might require some physical and emotional readiness. Or imagine riding on the roof of a huge bus with each of its tires takes turn to flop down and inflate back, flop and inflate, back and forth like that along a bumpy terrain. So the rider is sure to enjoy the journey that is full of lefts, rights, ups and downs!

If the activities mentioned above have not satisfied the elephant enthusiasts, a more hands on program should be considered. At some conservation parks, visitors can immerse themselves in the culturally enriched trip by learning about the lifestyle of both elephants and the mahouts - the course involves training how to care for these lovable creatures including feeding and bathing.

Elephants are used for playing polo. Elephant Polo was first played by Mogul Indian Kings but was reinvented in 1982 by two passionate polo players, Jim Edwards (an Englishman) and James Mann-Clark (a Scotsman) in a bar in Switzerland when both wanted to try out a more interesting and adventurous Polo game.

The first Elephant Polo Tournament was first held in Thailand in 2001 at Hua Hin. It now takes place every year in September. A two-10-minute-chukker game will consist of two teams of three elephants, each of which carries a polo player and a mahout. The mahouts are to direct elephants while the players play with a regular polo ball and a specially made elongated stick, which is something between 78 to 110 inches long, depending on the height of the elephant.

This should be very impressive to see not only a great teamwork in man's part, but also notable talents the elephants demonstrate in such dynamic game. During the days, there will also be the Elephant Orchestra and Elephant Painting. Part of the funds raised from the event will be donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Northern Thailand. So instead of offering a few dollars to a mahout you see in the city, which ultimately does no good to the poor elephant itself, go witness the great events where elephants have their day for earning admiration and respect they truly deserve. Most importantly, your fee would mean sustainable support to their plight rather a mere superficial sympathy.

An Elephant Centre in Lampang is offering an opportunity to eco-tourists to stay with real-life mahouts. The programme lasts three days and two nights. The provided activities are fun-filled and environment-friendly. The participants will have a chance to gain first-hand experience on nature, wildlife and, of course, elephants.

Thailand Activities
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