Arriving in mid-morning, we were part of a group of about 10 people with a guide. Others were there as well for the two-day visit or as part of the longer-term volunteer program. Even though the park relies partly on entrance and volunteer fees to operate (both very reasonable, by the way), ENP limits the number of visitors.The park never felt over-crowded, and we had lots of time and space to explore.
Our stay, which included a fabulous vegetarian lunch, lasted until about 4:30p.m., and during the day, we had the opportunity to feed, observe, touch, and bathe many of the elephants. My kids also enjoyed seeing – and in some cases, interacting with – the other animals that call ENP home. After the devastating 2011 floods in Bangkok, ENP's founder, Sangduen "Lek" Chaillert, rescued hundreds of dogs from Thailand's capital. They are now sheltered at ENP, mingling with the resident elephants, cats, and water buffalo.
The Elephant Whisperer
Growing up with elephants in the hills of northern Thailand, Lek developed a deep affection for elephants at an early age. Tiny in stature (Lek is actually the Thai word for "tiny"), but larger than life, she works tirelessly to put an end to widespread mistreatment of the animal her country supposedly reveres.Through ENP and other related projects, she educates tourists about the plight of Asian elephants, teaches local mahouts how to adopt more humane training methods, provides veterinary care for working pachyderms, and advocates for laws to give domesticated elephants the same protections as their wild cousins.