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Do ethical elephant camps exist?

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Do ethical elephant camps exist?

Hi All,

My OH is keen to do some form of elephant trekking or some experience with elephants when we visit Thailand.

I've been to Thailand before but have actively avoided anything with elephants due to my concerns that trekking is not fair on them / they may not be treated humanely etc etc.

I wondered if anyone is aware of any elephant experiences in Khoa Sok that are ethical? I'm not even sure if such a thing exists - so any further info is much appreciated.


Poulton Le Fylde...
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for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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11. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

On that basis, perhaps you could go straight from Surat Thani to Khao Sok and overnight, so you would have over half a day to make most of the National Park and environs, then after breakfast head back to Cheow Lan Lake. If you go down to the pier the booking office will present you with a menu of options for trips across the lake depending on how long you want to take, what you want to see and how much you want to pay. We did a 5 hour longtail boat trip which took us across the lake to visit a floating rafthouse site, a bamboo raft across from there to the Crystal Cave and then back on a different route exploring different aspects of the fabulous limestone features to the pier. This should give you time to get back to Surat Thani, as it is nearer than Khao Sok, and over to Koh Phangan.

See our Cheow Lan pics to whet your appetite even more at https:/…

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12. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

Please read this


13. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

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14. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

like arandora, we also stayed in a tree house resort (our jungle house) and had a great time. If you look at their website, it will give you some idea of the things you can arrange from any of the hotels in khao sok. We did a morning of elephant riding and it was the best elephant experience ever. We usually do this in northern thailand (our fave is Thai Elephant Conservation Centre) but this experience was just us and one other couple. we were taken to a small house in the forest, and it was clearly a very small family operation. good fun and we were made to feel so welcome.

elephant hills camp also offers a good experience but it is very 'packaged up' but good fun nonetheless. Not so sure it would lend itself to a one night stay though. Also, we heard that they had been prohibited from offering elephant riding (an insurance issue) so now offer a non-riding experience.

Our tree house overlooking the creek and it was great. There was an old-fashioned rope swing so kids could swoop over the water and 'drop in'. We did not think our joints were up to this! Inner tubes were freely available and the resort offered a tubing ride down the creek at certain times of year- I think it is mentioned in their website. We really enjoyed our time here but again, 2 nights is very different from one night. On our second morning we did the canoeing trip also great fun.

we decided that on the next trip we would hire a car at phuket airport and drive to khao sok before moving on to khao lak.

whatever you decide, you will have a great time.

Gold Coast
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for Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Thailand
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15. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

You can also see them in the wild near Hua Hin, so no riding just looking at these beautiful, majestic creatures - just a thought.

Brighton, United...
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16. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

Sarah, I too was looking along similar lines and after a little look into the ethics on this, chose Elephant Hills. I didn't find any negative feedback on other operators in the Khao Sok area, but I also didn't see anything that made me that comfortable with selecting them either.

There are postings on the internet around the ethics of operations where the elephants aren't well treated, some guidelines they give are questions you can ask around -

- how many hours a day are the elephants ridden (if it's more than 4 then it interrupts their feeding which they need to do constantly!)

- is the riding on their back or on a chair - directly on the elephant's back/neck causes less strain for the elephant (though I have done it in India and it is really prickly so you'll need thick trousers!)

- how do they get the elephants to do what they're needed to whilst on the trek (if they don't use positive encouragement e.g. through food, then I would wonder if it was more controlling methods used)

Here are a couple of links, where there is good discussion on the topic -



They do recommend an operation up in Chang Mai, as posted above - goodness people post quickly, they've been appearing as I've been writing!

Hope you have a great trip whatever you decide :-)

Kanazawa, Japan
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17. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

We've just spent 3 nights at the lampang elephant conservation in chiang mai. One of the best experiences of my life. Very happy elephants, very well looked after. Lauren

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18. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

agree with lauren that TECC (Thai elephant conservation centre) in Lampang is the best elephant experience we have ever found. can't wait to return.

Khao Sok National...
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19. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

Hi Sarah.

Actualy 1 night in Khao Sok is a short time for this pak that offers plenty enought to spend there 2 to 3 full days activities.

If you just want to spend there one night with an elephant trek and a tubing trip, just contact Baan Khao Sok, they can accomodate you in one of their tree houses, are located nearby the river, perfect for tubing and created what I consider as the most ethical elephant camp around...

In that case, better order a taxi to pick you up from the train station to avoid wasting too much time.

But I highly recommend to stay a bit longer in order to explore Chew larn Lake and why not sleep there on a rafthouse...

Have a nice trip!


Localy based tour operator "Khao Sok Explorer".

Vienna, Austria
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20. Re: Do ethical elephant camps exist?

i have also to agree witb 2 of the postings before me on TECC (Thai elephant conservation centre) near Lampang.

i have been there 3 times already (for their 3d/2n programs) and am preparing for my 4th time this sept. atm. i have yet to consider an other camp.

the place is run by the governmental non-profit FIO organisation (comparable to smthg. like department of parks and forests in most countries i think).

i am convinced the elephants are really well cared for there, i think i can tell by their hospital and by how the ephants appear to love the mahouts.

Of course you will see some things there which might be considered unethical by some-like chains, bullhooks or paintings done during shows.

chains are in my opinion OK simply because you cant have such strong animals roaming freely in the area with tons of tourists, children, cars and next to a highway. the elephants don't seem to care, they can break them or just unearth the tree they are chained to.

the hooks they use are a traditional instrument of the mahouts(keepers) and are not as sharp as they might look on photos (there anyway, ive used them myself ). the only usage of them i have seen was closing/opening the screw of the chain and scraping the mud off the elephant (usually very muddy elephant in the morning).


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