If anyone had ever told me that one day I would go to Thailand and adopt an elephant, I would tell them that they were crazy. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would do something so crazy, so adventurous, so out of character. But, here I am, writing about my experience as an elephant owner for a day at Patara Farm, an elephant farm located in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
Knowing that we wanted to see elephants on our trip, we performed extensive research and spoke with friends that had traveled to Thailand before to get their opinion. It was very important for us to go through a reputable company as there can be some controversy with elephant riding as not all companies treat their animals well. After much careful research, we decided on Patara Farm, an elephant farm that offers guests an immersion experience of adopting an elephant for a day. When I say immersion I mean that you literally go through step by step every detail each elephants trainer goes through for the day. You feed, learn how to check the elephant’s health, and even bathe the elephant as part of your day.
“you are trained to approach your elephant correctly, know the elephant’s temperament, feed and check its health, learn about and take care of your own elephant, bathe and brush it in the river, learn how to ride on its neck, and communicate THROUGH DIFFERENT spoken commands.” – Patara Farm
Let me tell you, we pretty much paid to do labor for the day, but it was worth the experience! Initially, meeting the elephants is a little overwhelming. You are basically entering their space not the other way around. They go about their business eating, pooping, and hanging out with each other. When they see you, the babies are the ones that are more curious, the adults aren’t bothered. Unless you are holding sugar cane! Then you are everyone’s center of attention.
After going through the training program and getting acquainted with your elephant, at Patara Farm, you ride the elephants bare-back, meaning no seats. The best way I can describe this experience is incredible. Being with the elephant all day you bond and get to know each other. Then when the elephant allows you to ride them, it’s a very beautiful experience. The elephant is never forced to give you a ride nor are you forced to ride them. You are taught from the very beginning how to understand your elephants temperament. So when I say that my elephant allowed me to ride him, I felt like he accepted me. Now, maybe at this point I’m starting to sound like a hippie, but I do believe that elephants are very intelligent creatures and like any animal they can form a bond or connection with you.
“The program is specialized and meaningful activity to create trust and relationship between you and your elephant.” – Patara Farm
Overall, I am very grateful to have been able to take part in this experience and highly recommend putting this on your bucket list. If you have any questions or want to know more about the experience, please feel free to ask. For more information on Patara Farm, check out their website or reviews on TripAdvisor. ❤️ Hope you enjoyed!