An Elephant Camp that takes high care for their animals
Ayutthaya is an ancient city in Central Thailand. Once the capital of a mighty Siamese Kingdom, the UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts many visitors today, with the majority of people coming to explore the atmospheric ruins, including sites such as Wat Mahatat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Yai Chai Mongkorn, Wat Si Samphet, and Wat Lokoyasuta. The city is famous for more than just its ruins though; it also has an elephant camp.
Elephant Camp Stay Project
Operated by two Australian ladies with previous animal care experience, local elephant-loving Thais, and a team of volunteers, the Elephant Stay Project allows people to get up close and personal with large and majestic elephants.
There is a minimum stay of two nights and three days for the elephant program, during which time you will sleep in basic but comfortable accommodation and learn what it is like to take care of an elephant. You will be assigned your own elephant, working closely with the trainer (mahout) to ensure that the elephant is fed, watered, and bathed. Other jobs might include mucking out the elephant area and cleaning around the camp. You also get to ride on the elephant and play with multiple elephants, including babies.
The basic package starts from 15,000 Thai baht, though longer stays are possible for additional rates.
If you only have one day to spare seeing elephants whilst in Ayutthaya you can visit the historic Elephant Kraal. A number of different activities are available. Buy a basket of fruit and veg for around 50 Thai baht and hand feed it to the elephants, seeing how they take it from you in their long trunks, curling it upwards to put it in their mouth to munch upon. Touch an elephant; you might be surprised by how bristly they are! You can learn more about the elephants, see them roaming along the streets, and pose for pictures with the large beasts.
Elephant rides are available, starting from around 400 Thai baht for a 15-minute adventure on the back of an elephant. Leading you past some of the charming and interesting ruins, it’s an exciting way to soak up the beauty of the area and appreciate its past. Longer rides are available for extra cost.
Interestingly, it is said that the elephants in Ayutthaya are the only elephants in the whole of Thailand that the Queen feels comfortable enough to approach without having a barrier in place (other than the royal elephants at the palace)!
Do make sure you research matters fully before deciding whether riding an elephant in Thailand is something that you would like to do. Whilst lots of the adult elephants at the elephant camp were rescued from places that caused them harm or were no longer needed in the logging industry, there have been a substantial number of baby elephants born at the camp. The process for training elephants is highly controversial, and it is recommended that you educate yourself further before finalizing any plans.
/// Written by Sarah-Jane Williams, Thailand