When we came across Elephants World, it was an easy decision to sign up for the overnight stay (2 Days/1Night) online and we are so happy we made that choice! When we arrived on the grounds, the thought of being able to play and just ‘be’ with the elephants sparked all kinds of bucket list goals of mine. After all who wouldn’t want to pet an elephant!!!
The volunteers were kind hearted and very educated showcasing their love for these animals. We spent the first day prepping food and feeding the elephants while enjoying intervals of watching them interact with each other playing in the mud and bath time. Prepping food for the elephants included sorting out fruits and vegetables into each of the elephants designated baskets. I loved watching the elephants grab a watermelon with their trunk and eating it whole, grind and all. After fruits and vegetables, we tried our hand in cooking gourmet elephant food: Sticky-rice balls. The balls were a mixture of rice, squash, soft food pellets rolled in a nutrition powder. The elephants that are honored to be served these delicious rice balls were those that lost their adult teeth from age! Unfortunately, making dentures for elephants is too difficult! As we were making their sticky-rice balls, the two elephants watched in delight, reaching in and around us to try and get an early snack.
Once we completed the task of making the lunch, the two elephants that waited patiently indulged themselves. After all…did you know elephants eat 10% of their body weight! Crazy right!?! As we cleaned up and began to wash the dishes one friendly giant stuck around and hung out with us. It wasn’t too long before he used his trunk to get a fresh taste of water which caused Thomas to take the hose directly to his mouth which he definitely enjoyed!!!
After we provided lunch to some of the elephants, it was lunch time for us humans. Lunch was provided to all day guests and included a variety of traditional Thai food. It was buffet style and so yummy! After lunch, we gathered back together and headed to the river. Some of the elephants were taking there afternoon baths and we got to join in! It was my favourite part of the day and words cannot describe the feeling of happiness and connection I felt to these beautiful giants as I washed away the mud and gave them a good scrub down with the brush.
When 4pm arrived the day tour individuals were picked up and we were left at the sight. We were fortunate to be one of two couples staying overnight. We were shown to our bungalow which included a mosquito net and bed. It was perfect. After we settled in and changed into dry clothes we headed back out to join the mahouts in the fields where the elephants rest for the rest of the evening. During dinner and in the common area we were able to hang out with the volunteers and get to know their global backgrounds; all with one common interest; elephants. We were invited to join in on a small get together by the river that night for a volunteer’s birthday. There we had the opportunity to hang out with the local mahouts who work and care so hard for their elephants. We spent the rest of the night in very broken English conversation and dance.
The next morning we woke up early with a full day itinerary. After breakfast, we gathered baskets of corn to go feed the elephants privately. At first only two elephants joined in on the meal but it wasn’t long until we noticed one….two….three….four…extra trunks getting in the way. Suddenly, we were surrounded by six elephants all in search for that corn in our hands. This was the moment where we really got to see the personalities of the elephants and we couldn’t help but laugh as some stepped in front of another or gave that extra little nudge trying to say “hey I am still here you know!”. My favourite thing was watching the different ways they chose to eat the corn. Some ate it whole as others would wait until you took the green leaves off because they were picky and disliked the green. We found ourselves quickly running back to get more corn once or twice but each time it was fun and a highlight of our trip!
After the long hauls of corn, it was time to take some elephants for a bath in the river. This time it was some personal time with the elephants and just us ‘over-nighters’. Over the course of the day we received special time with the elephants away from the day tour which gave us an experience of a lifetime. When it was mud bath time for the 28 elephants on the reserve, we spent the time going floating in the river. The 45 minute floating adventure down the river with nothing but a life jacket was so peaceful. We were able to enjoy the natural surroundings…a part of the real Thailand has to offer. When we reached our final destination back at Elephants World, we had another opportunity to hang out in the river with the elephants and feed them our goodbye snack consisting of those delicious watermelons they enjoyed eating whole. As we grabbed our belongings and waited for the bell to ring to let us know that our ride was here to leave, we said goodbye to the mahouts, volunteers and our giant friends that forever took a piece of our heart with them.
A special thank you to Elephants World for the amazing time.