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Thailand - like to combine overnight mahout training + overnight Hill Tribe

Thailand - like to combine overnight mahout training + overnight Hill Tribe

Apr 5th, 2012, 02:46 PM
  #1  
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Thailand - like to combine overnight mahout training + overnight Hill Tribe

Chiang Mai area in Thailand
I'm hoping someone out there can help us.

We will be taking a vacation in Thailand and 2 of the items we would really like to include in the Chiang Mai portion of the trip is a combined overnight hill tribe visit with an overnight elephant care and mahout training camp. I've heard that the better overnight hill tribe visits are far better than daytime-only visits. We have found a pretty good elephant care and mahout training camp at the Ban Bang Kud Elephant Camp. It includes approximately 6 hours with the elephants on EACH of the 2 days whereas most of the rest have a total of about 6 hours spread over 2 days. It has most of the content we are looking for, including learning basic elephant language, how to control the elephant, how to ride on the neck (instead of on a chair), how to lead, bathing and brushing the elephant (more than once), feeding the elephant (more than once), and an adventure ride with the elephant through the jungle.

Here's the big "however" ... we would really like to then go to one of the less touristy hill tribe villages for an overnight but the only way we have found so far, is to finish the elephant camp, go back to the hotel, then get picked up the following day to make a 2-day overnight to the hill tribe village. Unfortunately this means that in total it is 4 days + 2 overnights + a hotel in between. Unfortunately we are in the Chiang Mai area for only a short time and this would almost totally consume the stay.

... Does anyone know of a program similar to the elephant/mahout training described above which then goes to the hill tribe village for an overnight as a 3-day-2-night offering?
... also, are there any other experiences with the elephants which any of you would strongly recommend that we try to include during the elephant camp portion, and even a recommended link to who offers it ?
Much appreciated.
Mike_Robinson is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 04:16 PM
  #2  
 
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I think you are trying to cram too much into too little time. Do you really think you will be ready for a 4 or 5 hour trek immediately after spending 6 hours in mahout training? Actually, you won't have enough daylight to do that.

First of all, I don't know the Ban Bang Kud Elephant Camp. You should know that some elephant camps in Thailand treat their elephants very well and some do not. The places I know that are good are the Thai Elephant Conservation Center (at Lamphang) and the Elephant Nature Park. There is also a small division of the TECC at the Anantara at the Golden Triangle. Do some research on whether this elephant camp is reputable. With a quick search, I could only find travel agent info on the camp which doesn't tell us much.

And you are correct that if you actually want to see hilltribes in their traditional settings carrying on the traditional lifeways, you need to do an overnight. The so-called hilltribe visits that you can drive to are ... well, not recommended for you or for the hilltribes being visited. Sgt. Kai is the person most people recommend for arranging off the tourist track hilltribe visits. (you can google him)
Kathie is online now  
Apr 5th, 2012, 11:01 PM
  #3  
 
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Kathie has summed it up perfectly. The only Elephant related organisations I would dream of using in Thailand are those she has mentioned. I did check out the ENP thoroughly before our recent trip to Northern Thailand and was impressed with there work (although we ended up doing something else). I have no knowledge of the camp you mentioned but would encourage you to check out their credentials VERY carefully before comitting as many do subject the elephants to appalling treatment.

Although expensive, the TECC at the Anantara near Chiang Rai is probably your best bet. We stayed there 4 years ago and although not participating I the ele related activities, we did spend a lot of time watching them in their compound and at bath time down by the river. the hills around CR are generally accepted as the best place to visit the minority people in their villages which are generally far less visited than those closer to Chiang Mai which are more like a human zoo these days. You would relly have to trek for 3-4 days to get to any place around CM which could be regarded as "less touristy" Soppong and Mae Hong Son are also much better places to visit the minority peoples but I cannot comment on the elephant camps there although we did see one or two along the way.
crellston is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 06:03 AM
  #4  
 
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I agree whole heatedly with Kathie as well. I do know that the Elephant Nature Camp has programs combining home-stays with hill tribe families and volunteering to help the eles. Loved, loved the ENC! Very well-run operation, and lots of quality time with the elephants.
Cattail is offline  
Apr 6th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Thanks for your insights. They make a lot of sense. We are definitely going to have to rethink what is reasonable to accomplish in the time we have. Better to thoroughly enjoy fewer items than to spend half measures on more.

I did do some more research into other elephant camps. Both Panda (www.pandatourchiangmai.com) and Good (www.chiangmaigoodtour.com) which go to the elephant camp in Tung La Korn, sound like they have the elephants best interests at heart. But I'm finding it difficult to actually validate this. Do you have any comments on them or can you suggest a way of checking out their credentials or how reputable they are, as well as finding out how they really treat the elephants ?
Thanks
Mike_Robinson is offline  
Apr 7th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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"overnight mahout training" - isn't that an oxymoron?
khunwilko is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 04:25 AM
  #7  
 
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I'm not sure that we're allowed to post e-mails on the forum, but you can google "Bring the Elephant Home", "Elephant Aid International", "Elephant Nature Park", and "The Elephants' Voice" - e-mail the editor, to start with... Good for you for looking into this! Please let the rest of us know the results of your research. Happy Easter!
Cattail is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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since the days of logging Thailand has had a surplus of "domesticated" elephants - many of these ended up being exploited in the tourism industry and on the streets of the towns and cities of Thailand. The problem is that they are an ageing population and many people are making quite a good living out of these beasts - mainly renting them out to others - who are by no means mahouts, to drag around various tourist haunts. It has been found of course that baby elephants are much more of a draw then the old ones so breeding and smuggling has started to supply this market.
So on one hand you have a country with too many elephants in captivity and on the other people illegally smuggling wild animals and breeding new ones.
you might also check out how an elephant is "broken in" for domestic use - this is especially harrowing in the case of baby wild elephants which are basically hog tied and tortured into submission.

All this makes it vital that when choosing an encounter with elephants whether wild or domesticated, that you do some research into the organisations you are interested in.
khunwilko is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 08:24 AM
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THe plight of the "hill tribes is also very disturbing - many of these people have fled violence across the Thai Burma border and actually qualify to leave Thailand ad move to such countries as the US. However it has been demonstrated that much of the bureaucracy on the Thai side has been deliberately slow and obstructive. The reason? These people have brought a boost to the local economy in the form of tourism and "arts and crafts" etc and the local authorities allegedly like to keep them here as a sort of human zoo.
khunwilko is offline  
Apr 8th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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THe ENP mentioned above was raided by the "authorities" recently (February) after they and the WFFT presented evidence after the slaughter of elephants in Kaeng Krachan National park alleging that 5 NP officials were involved. Corruption is all pervasive here.
khunwilko is offline  

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