I really was looking forward to Patara and had read all the amazing reviews so had high expectations.
The elephants do seem very happy and healthy, and very used to human interaction so you don't need to be scared.
It was a good experience, but it did feel like you were getting barked at a bit, and felt almost like you were the butt of a joke to some of the mahouts.
There was also a lot of ordered posing for the camera- which is great later on, but it almost detracts from the experience itself at the time.
Take a change of clothes and swimmers.
Depending on which group you get put in, you will either bathe the elephants first and then go for a ride or the other way around.
We didn't interact with any baby elephants though we did pass one and it was beautiful.
It was a good experience, and Patara do genuinely seem to care for the elephants. It's just that for the cost- which is a lot, the most expensive things we did in Thailand- I'm not sure we were left feeling amazed as a lot of the other reviewers were. It felt a lot like a tourist attraction that was pumping in the dollars and pumping through the tourists. I'm sure Patara love the elephants, but I'm not sure they love tourists. Sure it is better than where elephants are treated badly and made to do tricks etc. but I would not necessarily go again, and I wouldn't give it a full recommendation.
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