Elephant conservation holiday in Thailand
Join this highly-acclaimed elephant conservation trip in Thailand. It takes place once a year in November. Ideal for solo travellers.
We also run a similar itinerary as a private tour (Elephant Smiles) throughout the year, based on a minimum of 2. The price for a private tour is a the same as the group tour though you will have to share a room throughout with the person you are travelling with. Also suitable for families. We also have a shorter private tour (Elephant Express) of 10 days - make an enquiry for more information!
There are many holidays in Thailand which feature elephants but are in practice just a day visiting a touristy elephant camp. Or they are 'volunteering' trips, where you spend time at one elephant sanctuary, often with basic accommodation conditions and no respite and you don't see anything else of Thailand.
Why settle for either when you can take this amazing one-of-a-kind holiday?
You will spend several days and nights getting up close and personal to elephants and learning to care for them at two sanctuaries with different approaches to elephant conservation. At one, the Elephant Stay in Ayutthaya, you will 'learn how to be an elephant mahout'. At the other, the award-winning Elephant Nature Park, the approach is elephants being in their natural habitat. In November, you will also have VIP seats to the annual elephant festival in Surin where elephants take part in their very own 'Olympics'.
As well as the elephant madness, you will also get a true holiday in Thailand as you'll start off with a visit to Bangkok where you will do some sightseeing and between the elephant experiences, you'll go for a trek and safari in a vast national park which is home to spectacular waterfalls, tropical birds and wildlife (including elephants!) and explore the city and countryside of Chiang Mai, Thailand's 'rose of the north'. You'll also enjoy some pampering with time by the pool, lovely accommodation to break up the elephant sanctuaries, as well as meeting some of our friends in Thailand whom you will consider yours by the time you get home.
The group departure (Elephant Steps) for just 12 lucky elephant lovers takes place just once a year. It is mainly taken by solo travellers. You have to share a room at the elephant sanctuaries, it is broken up by your own room in Bangkok, Khao Yai and Chiang Mai. The group is escorted throughout.
|Day 1:||The main group will meet on Friday evening at London Heathrow before a direct flight with Eva Air or Thai Airways. We can also arrange flights from UK regional airports. If you are booking excluding flights, you will be met in Bangkok.|
|Day 2:||Arrival. You will be met at Bangkok airport in a private minibus and taken to your centrally-located boutique inn. Time for a quick dip in pool. Walk through the local area for welcome dinner.|
|Day 3:||Sightseeing. Morning at leisure, afternoon sightseeing in Bangkok with guide. Evening out in Bangkok to explore a bustling night bazaar by the river.|
|Day 4:||Elephant conservation. Early morning transfer to elephant conservation centre in Ayutthaya. Full day with elephants and overnight.|
|Day 5:||Day with elephants. Conservation and more.|
|Day 6:||Day with elephants. Early evening private minibus transfer east to lodge near Khao Yai National Park.|
|Day 7:||Day at leisure - enjoy the pool and gardens.|
|Day 8:||Day in Khao Yai National Park with guide - trekking, waterfalls and driving around in a jeep. Special focus, elephants. Late afternoon watch over 2 million bats swarm out of their cave for the night.|
|Day 9:||Day trip east - VIP seats to the once-a-year Surin Elephant Festival where elephants take part in their very own 'Olympics'.|
|Day 10:||Pack up in time for a mid morning drive west to Bangkok airport and short flight to the historic city of Chiang Mai in the north. Transfer to boutique hotel. Evening at leisure.|
|Day 11:||Day at leisure - enjoy the pool. Optional sightseeing in Chiang Mai with a guide.|
|Day 12-15:||Elephant Nature Park Head off to the Elephant Nature Park. Days with elephants.|
|Day 16:||Day at Elephant Nature Park. Evening transfer to hotel in the centre of Chiang Mai. Farewell dinner.|
|Day 17:||End of your holiday. Those flying back to the UK will have a Sunday morning transfer to Chiang Mai airport for a short internal flight to Bangkok and connection to international flight. Arrival in the UK at approx 7pm same day (Sunday).|
Responsible travel: Elephant conservation holiday in Thailand
Elephant conservation - This holiday supports two of the three best elephant conservation centres in Thailand (and there are hundreds). By living and working alongside elephant mahouts at the Elephant Stay Kraal in Ayutthaya, you will learn about their lives as well as the elephants. The other sanctuary, Elephant Nature Park, particularly is a showpiece of wildlife conservation in Asia. It was named Time Magazine's 'Asian Hero of the Year'. Not only does Elephant Nature Park provide a refuge for elephants from all over Thailand, often previously-abused, but it spreads knowledge on humane training and elephant welfare to the wider community, as well as providing hands-on medical assistance to elephants who are not lucky enough to live there.
Accommodation - The accommodation on this holiday is small and local, within existing buildings or built with comparatively low impact to the environment. For example, at the elephant conservation centres, you will be in rustic chalets and in Bangkok you will be staying in a boutique inn which is in a converted historic mansion.
This operator employs people locally which helps them work with other local people on a highly individual basis. Their local guides mean local. They don't mean guides from Thailand, but guides in each local area (not those from the ‘big city’ like many other operators assign).
They often provide opportunities for people who are not involved in tourism to benefit from cultural exchange as well as financially. They also build in ‘shopping stops’ these are at places like out-of-the-way villages which specialise in a particular handicraft – a great way to break up the longer journeys whilst supporting local economies.
It goes without saying that they also provide cultural guidelines and travel, including responsible travel information.
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