Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Phuket, Thailand: Authentic and Ethical Experience

Elephants are the defining symbol of Thailand, but sadly most of these gentle giants are in captivity. In this blog, we are visiting the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Khatu, Phuket, Thailand.

Let’s meet, feed, bathe, play and know their story!

Elephants are becoming endangered to the habitat loss, poaching and increase tourism. Of course, there are companies out there that treat them ethically, however, most of the time, the elephants that you see out there giving rides all day is actually separated from their mother at a very young age. They are then put through this process “crushing” as they call it, where they are basically being into sumission.

Growing up and working in the riding camps, they are continuously abused and overworked. For us travelers, honestly most of the time, we have no idea that it’s harmful or if there’s a better alternative to meet and play with these friendly giants. So I hope this blog will show you that there is a more positive and ethical way to meet the elephants.

What is Elephant Jungle Sanctuary?

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a private company that started 4 years ago in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. After a few years, they branched out in Phuket. At Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, volunteers work hard every single day for the benefit of the elephants. This is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket.

Their mission is to provide as many elephants as possible with the good health, freedom, and happiness they truly deserve. They enforce a strict NO RIDING policy and do not make elephants work, perform, or do any activity outside their natural behaviors. Their hope is to lead by example, and contribute to a positive change in the perception of elephants; to witness a future where elephants are not ridden, poached, overworked, or abused, and are instead treated with care, love, and respect.

The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary project also provides many Karen people with employment, education, and financial support. “Karen People” means those who volunteer in the Sanctuary as it is founded by Karen Hill in July 2014 in Chiang Mai. The money they raised from visits, volunteers, merchandise, and donations is primarily used for elephant rescue, food, veterinary care, infrastructure and land so they can constantly grow and expand the capacity of their Sanctuary.

Knowing the Elephants

Elephants are the world’s largest living land animals, they are much much heavier than any other animals. There are two kinds of elephants; the African Elephants and the Asian Elephant.

They are long-lived, complex and social. They are big and they are strong, but against the relentless spread of humanity, they are powerless.

The elephant is the heart and soul of Southeast Asia’s wilderness. Its the flagship of all the animals especially in Thailand. They live in a variety of habitats; forest, savanna, desert, and swamp.

Elephants live in groups, groups of elephants are called matriarchs. Dominants within the family group are largely based on age, experience, and size. Female elephants have to wait before an older matriarch dies before they can have any chance of leadership. In male elephants, only at around 25-30 years old do they reach the chance to dominate rivals and compete successfully with female elephants.

Facts you might not yet know about Elephants

Elephant’s poop is one of the best fertilizers ever, and then they also said that you can use it for writing or drawing. Now you know that you can draw and write using elephant’s poop, how cool is that?

Elephants use sand and dirt or mud on their body. Why? Because it’s their natural sunscreen and insect repellent too, it protects them from the sun and from the mosquitoes. They toss it on their head and back to protect them from the sun rays.  Ahhh, we’re honestly learning here, right?

The elephant is herbivores, they eat 10% of their body weight which means, they can eat 400 pounds of food. It’s a lot! It’s like eating 18 pounds of salad.

Elephants live just like humans and they are polygamous in nature, they can have 5 girlfriends or 5 boyfriends at the same time.  Female elephants go through 22 months of pregnancy.  When talking about baby elephants, they are large when born that weighs about 200 to 250 lbs.

Asian Elephants cannot run, because at all times they have at least two feet on the ground.

Elephants can recognize themselves in front of a mirror.

Here’s a short video, yet one of the happiest days of my recent travel.

 

 

Ethical Activities and Fees

This includes food for feeding elephants, your food, and a free Karen shirt! (Tip: Make the most of it all, it’s a lot of fun)

  • FEED ME PROGRAM

Adult: 1.500 baht/person

Child <3 yrs Free

  • HALF DAY VISIT

Adult: 2,500 baht/person

Child: <10 yrs 1,900 baht/person

Child <3 yrs Free

MORNING SCHEDULE: 06:30 AM – 07:30 AM, Pick up from your hotel and activities are done around 11:30 am- 12:00 pm.

AFTERNOON SCHEDULE: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Pick up from your hotel and activities are done around 16:00 – 16:30 pm.

  • OVERNIGHT VISIT

2 days 1-night program

Adult: 12,900 baht/person

Child under 7>10 yrs 10,900bath/person

Child <7 yrs (Not advisable)

3 days 2 nights program

Adult: 19,900 baht/person

Child under 7>10 yrs 17,900bath/person

Child <7 yrs (Not advisable)

What to Bring?

Change of clothes and some good shoes

Swimming suit

Sunscreen, hat, towel, insect repellant

Any medicines you require

Book here via:

KLOOK

Or feel free to visit their official site and Facebook page

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

EJS – Facebook

The experience has been so good and I am grateful for the opportunity. I feel like I am glowing with joy and my heart is full for such a beautiful chance to be with the elephants in their natural habitat. I just love how the activity doesn’t feel like an activity or a tour visit, it feels like we are following what the elephant is doing on a daily basis. It is such a natural and authentic experience rather than going to a zoo to see an elephant or riding them for 5 to 10 minutes.In general, this experience is genuine and real and I hope you get to experience it too with your loved ones because it’s just breath-taking.

If after reading this blog, the elephants warmth your heart, please don’t forget to leave a big thumbs up, leave a comment and share this, so you too can recommend this blog and get it seen by more people. I hope you get to experience it too! Safe Travels, Loves!

Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan: The Mother of all Philippine Festivals

Ati-Atihan is the largest and oldest Catholic celebration in the Philippines. It legally holds the title “Mother of all Philippine Festivals”. Ati-Atihan means “to be like Atis” or “to make believe Atis”

Kalibo is the gateway of the most famous party island in the Philippines, Boracay. To everyone’s knowledge, it is also the home of the legendary festival all of us enjoy celebrating.

The Ati-Atihan Festival is held on the third week, concluding on the third Sunday of January in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines. It originated during the 13th century when Aeta aborigines arrived and wanted to settle on the island. The chief minister traded with the natives and bought goldenseal coat, brass basin, and bales of cloth. The festival was born then.

When the Spanish arrived, they adapted the festival to eliminate the pagan rituals and incorporate various religious practices, thus, the Sto. Nino (The Infant Jesus) made its appearance in the Ati-Atihan Festival, even until now.

This event also corresponds another festival around the Philippines, like Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo. The festival itself is marked by the people joining in the streets, dancing to fantastic drum beats. It consists of tribal dance, street music accompanied by members of indigenous tribes in their costumes and weapons. There are also parade of their designated floats and Sto. Nino while dancing or what we commonly known as, “sad-sad” short for dance “sayaw” and walk “lakad” in our Filipino dialect.

Ati-Atihan’s catchphrase “Hala Bira! Pwera Pasma!” is formerly associated with the festival as the merrymakers and believers keep on going with the revelries all over the town.

As traditional processions go, the actual procession was anything but traditional. People bring the image of Sto. Nino (the infant Jesus). Instead of walking, people do sad-sad with a lots of taking pictures, videos, talking, cheering, drinking on the street, and accompanied by a marching band. During the parades, alcohol flows freely, firecrackers and other noisemaking are honestly not uncommon.

Photo Credit to Trixie Orola

I’ve been participating in Ati-Atihan for seven years and until now, the hype doesn’t change. People starting celebrating from early morning to the wee hours of the next morning, rain or shine, for one week or even more. Amid our cheering and drinking, we were entertained by fireworks blossoming in the sky from time to time.

The main show is held on Saturday Night, where a massive night party brings everyone together to dance the night away and gaze up as lights and fireworks illuminate the sky. One of the most famous party house in Kalibo is the Abregana Bar, you wouldn’t spend your happy hour anywhere but here. As dusk sets in, there are DJs doing there magic making the crowd having those cutting edge dance moves. Definitely a nice place to end the night!

The festival ends on Sunday, where there’s a high mass in the morning around 7:00 am followed by the grand parade of the tribes representing different groups that competes for tourists’ attention and prizes.

It has been always a great experience to be at the Ati-Atihan Festival this year. I am looking forward to join the festival in the succeeding years.

Have you been to Ati-Atihan Festival? Share your experience at the comment section below! Or if you haven’t yet, consider joining next time. Safe Travels!

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