31 Jul 2014

Dante Elephant Adventure

One of my favourite activities in Thailand was by far our trip to the Dante Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai.

There were so many different companies and trips that you can chose between, but having been recommended Dante several times, we decided to bite the bullet and be extravagant backpackers, so we splashed out! Ooooo fancyyyy!

The trip began at 9am when Mr Big (yes that was his real name!!) picked us up from our hotel and began the journey to the camp.

We travelled north for about 90 minutes and made our way into the hilly mountains, tummies turning and faces turning green!

Safe to say it was a relief when we pulled up at the camp! We all hopped out of the truck for a big stretch and some fresh air!

The first thing we saw when we hopped off the bus were elephants. I know that sounds strange, but we weren't used to seeing an elephant stroll by on the road on it's own! It was amazing to see the elephants having such freedom to wander themselves.

Once everyone had woken up a bit, we were given our sexy outfits for the day, a little Dolce number, darling.....

Followed by some very brief instructions on how to talk to the elephants, which went straight over my head! (Turns out they would've been quite handy when I needed to tell my elephant to STOP!!!)

And we headed off to meet the giants!

Considering his name was Mr Big, he was overly excited about the size of someones arms and took Mr Big number 2 under his wing!

And the bromance blossomed....

As these two bonded away, I on the other hand was standing in the middle of the field and suddenly realised that there were no gates and I had a group of elephants plodding towards me! I felt like I was in an horror film, about to be attacked by a stampede of elephants.

But don't worry it was fine, they were friendly little things!! Phew!

Mr Big introduced us to all of the elephants and gave us some time to meet them, greet them, play with them and feed them bananas.....we did as we wished!

This one was my favourite so I gave him all my bananas! He was the boogier of the group and had the moves of a 50 year old dad! What could be more entertaining?!!!

After we'd played with and fed our new friends, we got the chance to have a quick ride on them to 'test the waters'....

Mr Big cruised on in on one of the biggest guys there was and it looked like a breeze. No problem.

I gracefully jumped up just like Mr Big had showed me to.....

Turned out I wasn't so graceful and needed a little help.....

One tip if your thinking of visiting the elephants.....always listen to the instructions because they can be very important later on! Apparently I learned nothing in school!

I finally made it up and it was petrifying.

The photos don't quite do justice to how high up you feel when your sat on the elephant and I can't say its the smoothest of rides.

We each got a chance to have a walk in the field and practice the commands that some of us had been taught! Luckily Mr Big gave me a quick update and helped me out along the way!

He told us to sit just behind the ears as this is the thinest part where the elephants can feels the commands when you make small nudges.

Before heading back to the hut for lunch we had a quick play with the elephants and gave them a rest before going out on a hike in the afternoon.

As we walked back into the hut, we were amazed by the spread that Mr Big's wife has prepared for us. A combination of curries, soups, noodles and everything you could imagine in a Thai feast. You name it, it was there! We all sat down like royalty to tuck in and ate until our tummies were about to explode!

After a 5 minute breather we downed a few bottles of water, topped up the suncream and headed back out into the field to begin our adventure.

Mr Big assigned us our elephants for the hike and I only went and got paired with my bessie, Dancing Queen!

Lucky for me, Reuben got paired with the monstrous 10ft Daddy of the group, which was about triple the size of all the others. (He's smiling but he was terrified!!). Luckily 'Big Joe' was nice to him and they led the pack into the jungle!

The elephants do this trek 4 to 5 times a week so they are pretty slick on their directions. However, they didn't shy away from stopping for food along the way. Safe to say I thought I was going to die when Dancing Queen went up on her hind legs in an attempt to flip me off the back! Turns out she was just tipping her head back to eat some leaves, obviousllllyyyy!!

After about 20 minutes of trekking we began to get used to the feeling of tipping backwards and knowing that they weren't trying to kill you and being confident that they wouldn't slip or trip going up a vertical mountain. They were pretty darn sturdy!

As we got further into the jungle, we began to get a glimpse of the Northern Chiang Mai landscape which was one of the most incredible and beautiful experiences!

Just before we began to head back to camp, we were taken for a quick splash. We darted over to the water tanks and all of the elephants gathered round to not only have a drink but also to soak us as well!

I guess it was only preparing us for what was to come.....

We marched down into the river splashing all over the place. It was playtime for the elephants! As the adult elephants gracefully sank themselves into the water for us to swim off and join them, in came the baby elephant like a cannonball. Charging into the water, splashing around in true toddler style, he couldn't get enough of the action!

We drenched them in water and brushed their skin clean whilst they rolled around in excitement....

The best part was watching the little baby following Mr Big round. He would constantly be nuzzling and head-butting him for attention and they would play games and tricks in the river, it was like something in a film!

As the elephants began to get tired, we started to head back to camp sparking clean in the sunshine! We hopped off and said our goodbyes while the elephants were taken back into the field.

And finally we removed our fancy outfits and had a quick shower before sleeping our way back to the hotel!

I honestly couldn't recommend Dante Elephants Tours enough! We paid 2500 Baht (£55) for an amazing day and we even got a disk full of photos at the end. Totally worth paying that little bit extra for a once in a life time experience!