On Monday we went on a half day tour to the Maesa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai.
We were picked up after 8am by minivan with a bunch of other people from various hotels and taken out of the city and towards the Doi Suthep area which we later learnt is where most of the interesting ‘experience days’ were based.
When we arrived our guide was very keen for us to rush through all the souvenir and food places to get straight to where the elephant rides were taking place as he said it was a first come first served business and we may struggle to get everyone on an elephant what with the hoards of other tourists already here.
Luckily, there were enough elephants and Jack and I were first. Basically there’s a platform that is on the back of the elephant which you have to sort of leap into almost. Then there’s a pole that you cling to dear life on as the elephant trudges up some of the steepest slopes it can and you’re thrown about a bit as the platform moves as the elephant does.
I don’t like heights. At all. So it was terrifying when the platform slipped back as we started going up what felt like a 45 degree slope and the elephant wants to walk incredibly slowly and maybe even stop and you’re just hanging off the back hoping the chain system they’ve got in place is strong enough as you look over a sheer cliff.
Having said that it was also an amazing experience and something both of us had wanted to tick off the bucket list for a while. So once we got to a flat area we had our photo taken before our elephant continued down the valley and then back upto the main area. All in it was a 30min trek and we were both shaking with adrenaline afterwards – it’s like being on a slow roller coaster.
Here’s our photo:
Afterwards we were told there would be an elephant show where they show how intelligent the elephants are. We watched as they painted pictures of flowers and landscapes using their trunks, we watched them lift the hats from the guides and then return them, the elephants had a game of football with another elephant in goal, four American girls tried to beat an elephant at darts and lost spectacularly. At the end of the show the elephants were presented so we could have photos with them and touch their trunks. It was a great show and it was great how they built comedy into it by having the elephants fool around and kick their legs out when they’d done something cheeky.
Photos from the show:
Here is a short clip I took on my phone of the end of the show. (Ignore the shaky cam and the bit at the end where turning the camera doesn’t work, lol)
Up next: After the elephants we were taken to an orchid and butterfly farm.