If there was one thing I was going to do when I arrived in Chiang Mai for the first time, back in March of this year, it was ride an elephant. Vain visions of myself communing with nature while riding atop a massive elephant as we ambled through the Thai jungle had been playing in my mind for weeks. And there are plenty of companies here that would have been willing to help me make that dream a reality.
I read this blog yesterday by Casey Hynes about her experience working with the Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai. The cost to volunteer for 6 days runs between $390 to $470 USD. This include room/board and food. You can read more about volunteering here. http://www.saveelephant.org/volunteer.html Casey said, "Volunteer fees are a little expensive here, but I always tell everyone who is concerned that it was completely worth it. It seems like a lot of money but for this experience, you really do get what you pay for. When you see the work being done here, and the work that is required for feeding and caring for the elephants, medical care for the animals, feeding and housing the mahouts, the volunteers…you definitely get the sense that the money is well spent."