I would 100% recommend staying at Elephantstay for a week or more. If you can only afford 3 nights, you won't regret it and will likely want to come back for more later.
Elephantstay are there to look out for the elephants. They have a successful breeding program (58 babies born so far, with the birth of the 59th baby imminent), have guests look after the daily needs of their assigned elephants, and educate visitors and guests (or "Elephantstayers") on why Elephantstay exists.
I arrived not necessarily in love with elephants to start with. I was born in South Africa, my mum has a fear of elephants and we have had one or two scary incidents involving African elephants in the game parks in South Africa. African elephants are majestic and beautiful, but I would not want to go near one if I could help it. So seeing and being near Asian elephants left me a little nervous at first. While I knew they were gentler and generally safer to be around than African Elephants, they still looked very similar to me. They're big and grey and heavy, what's not to fear?
The first day, I went for the bare-necked ride and didn't really enjoy it. So I chose not to go on the afternoon ride. Strangely, I chose to walk alongside my elephant to the river. They walk very slowly, so it's easy to keep up.
Knowing that I wasn't riding, the volunteers that work there (Matt and John) and the managers (Michelle and Ewa) made it their mission to get me back on my elephant. By the third day, they were successful and I rode every day until the end of my stay. Of course I'd wished I'd ridden those 3 times that I missed out, but I'm just so glad that I got back on for the rest of the rides.
The elephants at Elephantstay are domesticated and retired from work. They all have their own personalities and my elephant Jumpee was definitely the sweetest, quietest and loveliest elephant. You'll think this of your elephant too, so it doesn't matter which one you are assigned. The bond between you and your elephant will be strong!
The accommodation is basic but comfortable. They're bamboo huts and have managed to survive some flooding!
The food is fantastic! It's home cooked Thai food and delicious. After a long day of working with your elephant, the food is much appreciated!!!
I am now an elephant convert. They're beautiful creatures! If you are even remotely interested or just don't feel like doing the beach resort holiday anymore, want something a bit different, I'd definitely recommend staying at Elephantstay for a week or more.
Oh and FYI, it is very hot and you will be working, but the time you get to spend with your elephant is worth all the sweat and dirt!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Elephantstay is a close up and personal hands on experience with elephants staying in a working elephant village. ... more less