Thailand seems almost synonymous with elephants. Everywhere I went in Phuket, there were t-shirts with elephants on them, baby elephants to feed, and opportunities to ride elephants. It is their national animal. So, while in Thailand…
There are several outfits in Phuket that offer half-hour elephant rides just off the road, but I opted for a 3-hour bus ride to an elephant camp in Khao Sok for an hour-long elephant trek through the jungle. What an awesome sight to behold; a caravan of elephants marching through a Thailand jungle. It was definitely a unique experience, but also uncomfortable. The elephant’s gait rocked me in my seat and I got a bruise along my back where the metal rod hit me with every step.
My guide, who rode on the elephant’s head, invited me to ride on the elephant’s neck, but it seemed too precarious to me. I opted to stay in my little metal carriage seat on the elephant’s back as he lumbered along the trail. What’s a little pain when you can experience something like this? It was a “pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this” experience.
The guides seem very attached to their elephants, and know their individual personalities. At the midway point, they had us get off our elephants on a platform in the jungle where they used buckets of water to wet down the elephants before we turned around and headed back. We meandered through a creek and down the trail before arriving back at the paddock where we’d begun. Here we had the opportunity to feed the elephants fruit and vegetables. Then the guides lead the elephants away for a more thorough rub down.
The bruise on my back disappeared in a week, but the memories of this experience will last my whole lifetime.
Is riding an elephant on your bucket list?
Dude, I love elephants! When I was a kid I went on an elephant ride with my mom somewhere in Southern California. I’d love to do it again as an adult though. So cool!
It was different than I imagined, but incredible. At one point, my guide got off and I thought, “this elephant could just go running off into the wild with me on his back,” but of course, he didn’t.
I hope you get the chance to ride one again.
How COOL Is That! I would just love to see an elephant in the wild some day. Happy Day 🙂
I hope you do! They’re such beautiful animals.
I love elephants, particularly a mommy with her baby. So sweet and tender for such a big animal.
Yes. I fed a baby elephant, too, and he gave me a kiss in return. Felt like a combination vacuum and puff of air at the same time. He was so sweet!
I remember doing this once as a kid and yes, it was uncomfortable. But I imagine riding an elephant through an actual jungle is much more magical. I’ve always admired them, especially because they operate on a matriarchal society. If only human society could get with the program on that. 😉
It seemed quintessentially Thai to me. Not comfortable, but worth it.
Umm, no but I’m pleased you had a good time Julie. When I was 2 I was taken to see some circus elephants marching along the main road – there’s a photo online somewhere recording this, 1955 it was.
My daughter and nieces rode an elephant at the circus. Just once around a ring. They probably had the smoother ride.
Peggy and our grandkids climbed on elephants at the Jackson County fair in Southern Oregon this summer. I took photos. 🙂 On another note, I just the series of blogs on my father-in-law who crashed in a Burma jungle in World War II and walked out. On his last day, he rode an elephant but had to straddle it. Not comfortable at all, he said. –Curt
Wow! What a story!
We’ve been to Thailand so many times, yet still have not had this experience. I always feel a little hesitant that the animals are well cared for, but it sounds like in this case, they were quite loved. Glad you had fun. 🙂
Hey, I know you were probably unaware of how the elephants are trained for this, but have a read at this to make sure you’re making a fully informed decision about taking an elephant ride:
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