Where to See Elephants ~ from Thailand to Africa 

There is no animal in the world quite like the elephant. These majestic mammals are incredibly intelligent with memories that can span many years, form deep family bonds, and display signs of grief and joy. Their impressive stature and incredible anatomy make them one of the most fascinating creatures on the planet, but to see them in a zoo sometimes isn’t quite enough. On your next romantic getaway to Africa or Asia, be sure to see if you can squeeze an elephant encounter into your itinerary, as it will leave you in awe of these gentle giants.

A cheeky calf in Chiang Mai
A cheeky calf in Chiang Mai

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a magical place for many reasons and a must stop for adventurous couples looking to see a different side of Thailand. There are a number of elephant nature parks in Chiang Mai where couples can learn about the elephants, watch them play in the river with their keepers and even embark on an elephant ride. Elephant Nature Park is a rehabilitation centre just outside Chiang Mai with an important message about the dark side to elephant tourism that many well meaning tourists just have no idea about. You can visit for the day, stay overnight in the very comfortable huts, or even go for a week and volunteer.

Related article: Adventures in Thailand

Elephants Frolicking in Tanzania
Frolicking in Tanzania

2. Tanzania, Africa

Take an unforgettable, romantic river cruise through Saadani National Park, the only national park in Tanzania that lies on the coast. The largest herd in the region consists of nearly 60 elephants so it’s a very special sight to witness them splashing in the Wami River. The perfect base is Saadani River Lodge, a luxurious accommodation option perfect for some rest and relaxation after being out in the wild for the day.

Related article: Into Africa: Fall in Love with the Sub Sahara

Elephant gathering in Sri Lanka; photo: Daniel Newcombe – Flickr
Elephant gathering in Sri Lanka; photo: Daniel Newcombe – Flickr

3. Minneyira National Park, Sri Lanka

Minneyira National Park is famous for ‘The Gathering’, where hundreds of elephants make the journey every year to an ancient reservoir, as they have done for centuries. Watch massive herds of elephants bathe in the sun, play in the water and socialise and be in awe of one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events. 

Related article: 5 Animals to See in the Wild

Elephant and mahout in Laos; photo: gardnergp
Elephant and mahout in Laos; photo: gardnergp

4. Hongsa, Laos

Laos and Cambodia are becoming increasingly popular holiday destinations and remain relatively untouched by the masses. Elephants are highly culturally and spiritually significant to the Laotian people with mahouts still operating today, traditionally using elephants for work in agriculture. Couples can visit one of the elephant orphanages and contribute to the rehabilitation of elephants in Laos, or if travelling in mid-February, you will have the opportunity to witness the Elephant Festival in Sayaboury.

Related article: What to do in Luang Prabang

Luxury lodge in Kenya; photo: Sanctuary Retreats
Luxury lodge in Kenya; photo: Sanctuary Retreats

5. South Luangwa National Park, Africa

The elephants of South Luangwa National Park in Zambia are are an intriguing species which are comparatively smaller than related species. A world-renowned wildlife haven, couples will no doubt spot giraffes, hippopotamuses, buffalo and more while admiring the elephants and quintessential African landscape. At some local accommodations, elephants wander around the resorts and visit staff and guests. 

Related article: Explore Africa on a Three Country Expedition

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