For some the very mention of the words ‘elephant tourism’ are seen as negative. Hand2Trunk is wholly positive in two ways – it promotes elephant conservation while helping sustain and support rural communities that have lived alongside elephants for generations.
More than this, the organisation hopes to help raise funds for the elephant hospital in Lampang by giving a percentage of income generated. Hand2Trunk is about allowing domesticated elephants to enjoy as natural and wild as existence as possible while helping to protect and preserve the culture of those who have lived alongside elephants for generations.
Chiang Mai Elephant Immersion Program: Summer & Winter
Day 1 – Arrival Day – Chiang Mai – Orientation
This is definitely a day for relaxing, especially for those arriving after a long flight. We will meet at the hotel/guesthouse lobby for a brief introductory meeting about the program before giving you the time to relax, explore and maybe unwind with a traditional Thai massage. In the evening, we will have a welcome group dinner – a great opportunity to get to know us and your fellow participants.
Day 2 – Elephant Hill-Tribe Village
We will leave busy Chiang Mai and head into the beautiful countryside of Northern Thailand through Doi Inthanon National Park. On the way, we will visit the stunning Wachiratan Waterfall. Upon arrival at the elephant village at Mae Chaem, we will have an orientation and an elephant talk. In the evening we will enjoy a traditional Karen welcome ceremony and dinner.
Day 3 – Meet the Elephants
Today you will get the see the elephants roaming in the forest! We will rise early and after breakfast hike deep into the forest to track the elephants with the mahout (elephant carer). We will have lunch in the forest before going on an elephant medicinal hike – learning all about what elephants eat in the forest to maintain good health and wellbeing. We will stay in huts in the forest and have an evening discussion about the elephants and reflect on our day and what we have learned.
Day 4 – Return to see the Elephants
After breakfast, we will once again head into the forest to observe the elephants and learn more about their behaviour. After lunch, we will hike back to the Karen village and try traditional Karen weaving. Before dinner, get to enjoy a traditional Karen massage – well earned after all the forest hiking! After dinner, we will be treated to a Karen farewell ceremony.
Day 5 – A Day of Lanna (Northern) Thai Culture
Today we will travel to the original famous weaving village in Northern Thailand where traditional Lanna skirts are woven. We will get to learn how to weave using bamboo to create animal shapes. After lunch, we will explore a local Thai market and temple before trying our hands in the kitchen with a Thai cooking class. In the evening we will have a khantok dinner – Lanna style.
Day 6 – Head to Friends of Asian Elephants Hospital – Lampang
Today we will head to the Friends of Asian Elephants Foundation Hospital in Lampang. On the way, we will stop to visit Doi Inthanon – the highest mountain in Thailand. On arrival at FAE we will tour the hospital – including a tour of the prosthetic factory. We will stay overnight at a mahout homestay.
Day 7 – Elephant Educational Program at TECC
We will learn about the work of the National Elephant Institute. We will get to meet the elephant vets and have a Q and A session with them. We will learn to make herbal medicine for the elephants. After, we will walk with the elephants into the forest before helping to bathe the elephants.
Day 8 – Mahout Program at Elephant Carer Home
Meet the elephants and staff at the Elephant Carer Home. Learn about the daily life of a mahout and basic elephant commands. Today we will also get to spend time with baby elephants!
Day 9 – Visit Elephant Nursery
In the morning we will continue to work alongside the elephants and their mahouts. We will learn how to make compost from elephant poop. In the afternoon we will travel to an elephant nursery – yes more baby elephants! Goodbye dinner with the mahouts.
Day 10 – Visit Elephant Poopoo Paper Park and return to Chiang Mai
On the way back to Chiang Mai we will visit the Elephant Poopoo Park and learn how to make paper from elephant poop (yes, it’s very versatile!). In the afternoon, you will have time to explore Chiang Mai and visit some of its beautiful temples. We will end with a goodbye dinner.