My friend Jamie, who recently traveled in Thailand, recommended the Elephant Sanctuary over some of the other elephant tours. What set this tour apart was the natural habitat all of the animals lived in. Elephants and water buffalo roamed free during the day, each cared for by a mahut. Elephants living here have been rescued from Thailand or Burma, where they are used to log the forests. Often arriving mis-treated, wounded, blind or injured. The clinic takes good care of these giants.

We had a small group of 10 who spent the day together. We arrived at the property just in time to feed the hungry elies. Some got little melons, others soft squash, and the old ones with out teeth or poor digestion, got a custom tailored meal. Visiting each of the elie families, we had lots of photo ops and up-close time. Our group shared many laughs and sweet moments. I met my new friends Tom, Hannah and Nakayla on this tour.

Volunteers from all the around the world visit the nonprofit, to spend a week as an elephant caretaker. Learn more about them here.

On a separate excursion, I visited Tiger Kingdom, where you can pet tigers from small to large. Its a tourist trap, they are just so cute, and I fell for it.

I chose the smallest tigers, just a couple of months old, one passed out face down after being petted. I got my selfies, petted some more and moved on to the more rambunctious 5 month olds. Playful and active, they jumped on each other, occasionally paying attention to me, mostly minding their peers.

I didn’t dare get close to the big cats, though they were the sleepy ones but I was too chicken.

Elephant Nature Park