Chiang Mai, Thailand: Elephant Retirement Park, Aka Best Day Ever

Day 3 in Chiang Mai was spent in Elephant & Kitten heaven.  It was glorious.  Prior to the trip, I'd done a lot of research on which Elephant parks were truly ethical to visit and we finally landed on the Elephant Retirement Park based on a recommendation from Robby's friend who had just spend 3 months traveling through SE Asia.  We decided to just spend a 1/2 day with them and it was probably my favorite thing we did during the entire trip.  

ERP picked us up bright and early and then took us about an hour outside of the city.  Once we arrived they provided clothes to change into as to not ruin our own outfits (SO glad we used their clothes because you get covered in mud).  Then our guides took us through making little 'medicine' pouches to give to the elephants.  There were a handful of ingredients, including bananas, salt, cinnamon and a few others I can't remember but the ground up mush was meant to benefit the elephants.  Then it was time to meet the crew.  They had 2-3 older elephants and 3 young ones.  The youngest was 3 months old I believe and he had a mean right kick if you got on his bad side (this was actually really funny because our guide would play with him and lean into his right side where he would then kick our guide in the shin).  The babies were basically overgrown dogs in the sense that they were so cuddly and interested in our group.  We fed them countless bananas and sugarcane and then prepared them for their elephant spa.  

First there was the mud pit... where no one is safe from elephant trunk mud slinging.  Then to the sand pit where exfoliation was the goal.  And finally to the little pond to rinse off and play - where Lord knows what was in that water.  After about 2 hours we headed back to the main building, showered, ate watermelon and had the most amazing fried bananas I've ever come across.  

We felt like ERP did a great job with our group and our guides were focused on making sure everyone was having a good time but at the same time felt safe.  I would highly recommend these guys if you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai.  Enjoy the pictures and try not to have a better day after looking at all these sweet elephant babes <3 Lane

P.S. Shout out to my amazing Daddy'o who is celebrating his 70THHH bday today!! HBD Dad <3

The rest of these are a few fun ones that the ERP captured of us on their cameras during the messy points of the day.  We really loved our time here and felt good about how the elephants are treated. 

Alana Buffington