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“You Pay for what you don't get”

Jumbo Elephant Camp Day Tour
Reviewed April 4, 2013

I can overlook some things, but this...no way! We paid 1500 baht for the 2 day trekking which included trekking, elephant feeding, bathing, and riding, a campfire and dinner, overnight stay in a grass hut, observing the elephants at night, a walk through the market, a visit to the hilltribe village, swimming in a natural pool, whitwater rafting, and bamboo rafting. What we received: a 30 minute group ride on the elephant (not barebacking like the pictures), trekking for 8 hours over a two day period...which was for advanced climbers. NOT for the inexperienced. (Steep steep inclines on the side of the mountain. Be prepared to slip, digging your fingernails into dirt so as not to fall off the side of the mountain). The whitewater rapids was easy and lasted about 40 minutes. The bamboo rafting consisted of putting the whitewater rafting boat ON TOP of the bamboo raft and sitting in the whitewater boat, then floating on top of the bamboo raft for about 20 minutes. In the end, we did nothing at all with the elephants, other than that group ride. The one thing we wanted most was bathing the elephants....and when we asked why we werent doing all these things we paid for...our guide said "there was no time." Avoid this company at all costs. Find another REPUTABLE company....this company is awful and you get nothing. Once we returned to our guesthouse in Chiang Mai, we paid 500 baht and visited the hilltribe on our own. The elephant bathing we never got to do.

1  Thank Vagabondroads
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 30, 2013

I was very wary of actually following through with my booking after reading through tripadvisor Based on previous tripadvisor comments I was thinking of canceling, but I am glad that I did not get swayed. My husband and I came to Chiang Mai with the intention of doing an "elephant camp" sort of thing, but unfortunately all of the experiences that were highly recommended were full when we tried to book. We are definitely supporters of animal rights, so would have loved to book at one of the sanctuaries, but limited availability hampered that plan. We decided that despite our reservations based on trip advisor, we would go and ride the elephants and just have a good day, because let's be real, these experiences are more for the humans than the elephants anyways.

We were picked up at 8 in the morning and picked up 6 more people and were quickly on our way. We stopped very quickly in the market for bananas for the elephants and then made a stop at an orchid farm. I know others have been negative about this on other posts, but anyone that has been on any sort of group tour knows that it is part of the game and just enjoy it. I personally was able to purchase some beautiful gifts at the orchid farm, so was happy we stopped. After driving 45 minutes or so, we arrived at the camp.

The elephant camp is definitely not for anyone that does not like to be hands-on and doesn't like getting dirty. We changed into new outfits for the day and then started working on learning the elephant commands, and then introductions to the elephants with bananas. We each were able to get up on the elephant, using the commands that we learned and then had a short ride. We did this twice to make sure that we knew the commands, and of course provided a great photo op. They initially had my husband and I ride together, but then we each got individual rides.

We then went to the local family's house and they cooked us a delicious lunch of traditional Thai food. For a nominal fee, I was able to get a Chang beer.

After lunch we started on our group ride to the river to bathe the elephants. It was the perfect amount of time, because it can be a little scary that high up. When we got to the river, it was quite clean, but as noted the elephants are wild animals and will poop in the river. That's life, and you just sidestep it. I am sure any waterway that you encounter in Thailand or elsewhere has a lot of bacteria, you just might not be able to see it. We were able to bathe our elephant and then head back to camp. We then were able to change and get ready to head back to Chiang Mai.

I think it was the perfect amount of time riding and interacting with the elephants. I know that previous people have commented on the treatment of the animals and the conditions, but the experience was exactly as advertised....tourists get to train and ride elephants! If anyone has ever visited a working farm, this is really no different. These elephants are trained to allow humans to ride them and use them for work, much like horses.

I think that this tour has gotten a bad rap because it does not have the "do-gooder" element of the others, where you feel like you are supporting a "save the elephants" campaign. If that's what you are looking for, then one of the other camps would be for you...but, how great do elephants feel being forced to paint on a canvas for tourists to purchase? But, if you are looking for a day where you get to become up close and personal with an elephant and then learn to ride it bareback and play with it in the water, it is the tour for you.

1  Thank Niki T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

First of all the pickup and ride to the elephant camp was long. They waste alot of time bringing you to useless places along the way: local fruit market, butterfly farm? Once we finally got there, we had to haul 2 large bags of bananas each into the farm. They gave us a change of clothing for the day. Lockers were available, but there are no locks. Please be aware and do not bring valuables. You cannot bring your phone or cameras with you unless they are waterproof. Or you can have one of the guides hold it for you.

The feeding of the elephants and the ride itself was fun. I did notice open wounds on the elephants as well...so pretty sure they are not treated that nicely when the tourists are gone. Riding directly on them is definitely a different experience than riding on a platform basket on them.

Everything was fine -- until the bathing of the elephants. I personally had a bad experience. As you go into the water to "bathe" the elephants, the bottom of the water reservoir is filled with elephant dung. Your are sinking as you walk through the crap at the bottom. Unfortunately for me, I caught an infection from this (due to open skin from mosquito bites) and my whole foot was swollen the end of the next day. Went to emergency for an examination and blood tests and was diagnosed with cellulitis. I had to be on 5 days of antibiotics after that.

Bring a bathing suit, change of clothing, towels and old shoes. Your shoes can pretty much be tossed after this experience. There are showers there, but no running water. So we were not able to rinse off and clean ourselves properly afterwards. Quite gross.

So, if you have the stomach to be stepping and swimming in elephant dung and are lucky enough not contract any bacterial infection from this.

Photos provided were such bad quality when they were finally received. All of them were overexposed and randomly taken. The subjects (us) were all out of focus, really small or not centered on the picture. They were all taken by the venue with a cheap point and shoot!! My phone camera would have done a better job!! Better to give one of the guides your own camera.

3  Thank Javaholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 7, 2013 via mobile

Pretty unprofessional from the start, having been picked up, there seemed a lot of down time like fueling up, picking up supplies, a stop at a 'butterfly' place that we were not expecting and that was a utter waste if time.
As we drove towards the camp we saw many elephants roaming around a great open space looking content and well looked after..... This would not be the place we were going too.
Driving to the shack we saw 5 elephants chained up in a small area. My heart sunk, as I had been to maesa camp years before and found it to be utterly amazing! This place was NOT.
We were put on this tour by our guesthouse owner after he said maesa was booked and this was good, so stupidly accepted his word.
The group was over crowded and again, a lot of downtime. The elephants did not look well looked after, with visible signs of wounds from the metal hook/stick used by the 'mahouts' they didn't seem to have any connection with the elephants like I saw at maesa and were extremely aggressive. Having so few elephants and so many people yelling commands made for an uncomfortable experience so no wonder the elephants didn't react overly well to commands (so therefore more excessive aggression from trainers)
Pricing was a total rip off, but the loss of money is the least of my disgust over this company / tour

If this is your only and last chance to experience elephants I would highly recommend giving it a miss. the obvious mistreatment and price is NOT WORTH IT

1  Thank ashheartsbeards
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 24, 2013

We had a wonderful day at jumbo camp. The staff were very helpful and really seemed to care for the elephants. It was fantastic to learn the elephant commands, feed and ride them bareback, bath with them and wash them. The day far exceeded our expectations and we would recommend it. Food was excellent too!
Mike and Annie, Australia

Thank Mike G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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