Thailand

Get up close and personal with the residents at Chiang Mai's Elephant Nature Park

Spanning 100 hectares of wilderness, just outside of Chiang Mai in Thailand's north, lies Elephant Nature Park, which is a special sanctuary for 36 rescued elephants (that has in recent years evolved to include dogs too!).

Saved from the clutches of tourist ride operators and logging companies, you'll be able to see herds of elephants in surroundings that are as close to their natural habitat as possible. The park serves an important role in educating locals and tourists about the painful plight of these majestic creatures and the reality of Elephant tourism. It may even make you change your mind about elephant riding, which is often high on the sightseeing list for visitors to Southeast Asia. There are one-day visits and week-long volunteer programs available, and although it's a fun and enlightening experience, it can at times be confronting when you understand the full reality for many of the elephants involved in tourism and logging. 

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