During our Phuket and Krabi Itinerary planning, we came across several tours which offered Elephant Sanctuary visit. These visits also included an elephant ride through the forest. We scoured through more tours looking for the ones which didn’t include the ride but it seemed like this was the most popular part of the city tours in Phuket and Krabi. Nevertheless, we skipped the tour altogether and decided to do Krabi and Phuket City Tour on our own.
But we really wanted to visit an Elephant sanctuary where we could see these beautiful gentle giants from close and spend time with them. This would be a unique experience for our 4-year-old kid when visiting zoos were not our interest anymore. We started looking for more information about the Elephant sanctuaries in Phuket and Krabi. We found one sanctuary called Elephant House Sanctuary in Krabi which offered an hour and a half tour which included feeding, bathing and spending time with the elephant. We booked the tour and decided to visit the Elephant Sanctuary with our Krabi city tour.
The Elephant House Sanctuary is about 30 minutes drive from the Krabi city center in Mueang Krabi District. Our pickup from the Krabi town center was arranged by the sanctuary. They also offer free transfer from Ao-nang and Klong Muang.
For the day and the slot, we booked there was no other guest. So we had the elephants and the guide all to ourselves.
On reaching the Elephant sanctuary we were greeted by one of the volunteers who walked us into the forest area to meet the elephants and the guide for the day. We were introduced to two elephants who walked in freely, there was no enclosure nor anykind of leash.
The male elephant named Thong was 55 years old and other a female elephant named Vipa was 52 years old. Both were accompanied by their respective mahouts.
We were given 2 bags full of bananas to feed the elephant which we enjoyed the most especially our little one. The elephants were made to stand behind a rope when feeding for our safety. But the elephants were so smart though they did not move an inch from the rope they would snake in their trunks to find the bananas in our hands and bags.
The mahout even encouraged Chhavi to hug the elephant’s trunk which Chhavi was delighted to do. And we were delighted to see Chhavi so happy.
When we visited there were a total of 4 elephants in the sanctuary. Other than the two old elephants we met there were two more younger ones who were only 22 years old. The guide told us that the elephants were rescued from different places some retired from the logging industry and elephant riding and sometimes they walk down into the city from the forests.
We then walked to the other side of the street where the Yai River flowed for the bathing of the elephants. The other two younger elephants roamed here freely eating plants. As per the guide, the two were very playful and naughty.
Thong and Vipa also joined the younger ones and started feeding on the sugarcane plants. We were offered some fruits to eat until the elephants fed on the plants and were ready for the bath.
We had a good time chatting with the guide who also informed us that recently some Bollywood movie was shot in the sanctuary along with one of the younger elephant.
We also learned of the daily schedule of the elephants. They take the elephant to mud bath at least 3 times a day due to the hot weather which is important to keep their body cool. And through the skin is rough it is very sensitive and hence it is important to rub mud on their body.
After some half an hour we started walking towards the river. The guide and mahouts filled water in a small muddy ditch and started scooping mud for a mud bath. The elephant walked into the ditch and started digging mud too. We too applied mud on the elephant body slowly and steadily while the mahouts were super fast and completed applying mud all over the elephant body.
The elephants seemed a little impatient as if they were getting late for the bath and sprayed mud over the head and sometimes all over us.
As the two older elephants walked towards the river for bathing, it was now the younger ones turn for the mud bath. It was fun to watch them. They did not need any help.
They got into the ditch filled with water, dug the ditch with leg, scooped mud with their trunk and within second sprayed it all over their body and got themselves completely immersed in the mud. Looked like he was enjoying mud bathing. They seemed naughty and playful indeed.
By the time we saw this spectacle and walked towards the river, the mahouts had walked the older elephants into the river and started bathing them. We walked into the shallow part of the river. It was mostly the mahouts brushing and washing them and we just enjoyed helping them with pouring water.
After some time the elephants immersed themselves completely into the water and looked like they were having a good time cooling and relieving themselves out in the water.
Not once during our visit to the sanctuary did we feel that the elephants were trained to act in a particular way to impress the guests. Instead, we followed the elephants, walked at their pace, and even waited for them to finish their feeding before the bathing time. It was an amazing experience watching the elephants walking freely amidst the lush surrounding.
We offered some more fruits to the elephants and bid adieu to the elephants, mahouts and the guide.
Chhavi said bye with another happy hug.
The Elephant House Sanctuary offers three different programs – A, B, C. We did Program A which was for 1.5 hours and included walking with the elephants, feeding, and mud bathing the elephants.
Program B takes about 3 hours and includes a visit to the elephant hospital along with feeding and mud bathing the elephant. At the elephant hospital, you can meet the vet and learn more about the elephants. You can also participate in preparing food and herbal medicine for the elephants.
Program C includes all of the activities of Program B and then a visit to the Emerald Pool which is also one of the top things to do in Krabi. The program takes around 7 hours.
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