Being a tourist you have a responsibility to ensure your money isn’t being used to perpetuate cruelty for entertainment, this is especially clear if you are considering coming to Thailand to pet a Tiger, there’s no feasible way to do that without funding animal cruelty, either the Tigers are drugged out the whole time or they have been beaten into submission by the handlers, Tigers aren’t domesticated animals, fuck you and your tiger selfie.
They have three elephants that they own, and a sick one that they’re looking after for a local farmer, the elephants were rescued from local farms and a local riding company. To buy a single elephant you’re looking at spending 1 million Baht, or around £200,000. Knowing this, you can see why you can’t really let an elephant out into the wild and expect it to stay wild, plus if you want to “save” an elephant, you have to buy it, then you have to feed it and elephants eat A LOT, so there are running costs meaning that without relying on government subsidising or external donations, you have to set up a business in order to help the elephants. Fortunately the Tum travel company seems to have nailed it, they have travellers pay for the privileged of taking on some of the labour of looking after elephants for half a day and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a morning.
The guides (Nana and Korn, pictured below) mentioned that if you give an elephant something sweet they will remember you for a couple of years, yet if you gave them something sour and disgusting, they will remember you for up to five years, because they will remember to avoid you. it wasn’t clear whether the elephants were gentle because of their treatment previous to their adoption from the sanctuary or if they simply understood that we meant them no harm and wanted to enjoy their company, either way they seemed pretty content.
After feeding the elephants a ton of sweet stuff we went back into the hut and made natural medicine using tamarind which flushes their stomachs of parasites and sea salt which boosts their appetite, the tamarind is quite sour so we coated the salt and tamarind in sticky rice to make it more palatable.
Having said our goodbyes to the elephants, we went white water rafting, the down the river that we had scrubbed elephants in and it was slightly disappointing, we went during the dry season so the water was quite shallow, we kept getting stuck on boulders on the way down and really struggled to get out each time. There were parts of the water which were had strong currents but it would have been better had the whole trip down the river been exciting rather than frustrating. Following the rafting in a dingy we boarded some bamboo rafts and I was one of the lucky ones to control the ship, a little like the guys on boats in Venice where you use a stick to push against the bottom of the floor I managed to get us from one point to another in shallow waters without getting too stuck.
After a brief break we jump back in the taxi bus and end up deeper into the mountains to begin our trek, the forrest was thriving and on the trail we passed small huts where locals were staying, one of the huts had recently had puppies which are always a bonus when trekking through the rainforest.
After passing some huts and a failed hydroelectric project you arrive at a waterfall, it’s nothing compared to the waterfalls in Cairns but it’s worth a look and worth taking a dip after a hard day of being a tourist.
All in all I would highly recommend Tums Travel Company, partly because of the budget price but mainly because of the way they treat their elephants, when we left them to go water rafting, they were being led back up the mountain where they like to stay, surrounded by trees and protected from poachers. Anybody who normally reads my blog may find this post to be strange, this isn’t sponsored content in any way, I just really appreciate what they’re doing for their elephants as a small sanctuary and figured I’d give them a tiny boost in exposure, plus the pictures are nice.