You shouldn’t leave Koh Chang without paying a visit to Ban Kwan Chang Elephant Camp. I swear to you it was the most unbelievable experience for both me and Manuel. ♥
The name Koh Chang means Elephant Island (Chang = Elephant). Just like the name suggests, there are a lot of elephant camps and farms. You can see elephants everywhere. A lot of camps are very dirty and the elephants’ conditions don’t seem very good. There are also camps where the animals are forced to do shows for the tourists. We visited four camps, because I wanted to find one where the elephants are treated well. Do you know the movie Water for Elephants? The bad conditions in the camps reminded me of this movie. The elephants really seemed sad. They were chained and their stables were dirty. We asked around the island and the locals recommended the Ban Kwan Chang Camp in the north of the island. I’m really happy that we visited the camp. We had a great day with the animals in Koh Chang Ban Kwan Chang elephant camp.
Here are some more facts and details about our experience in the camp.
The camp is in the middle of the jungle. It used to be a refuge for elephants that are no longer being used for labor. You can see that the animals condition is much better there. Their skintone looks better and the movements of the animals felt more natural. There were no chains and nobatons.
FACTS: About the elephant camp Koh Chang
Founding. About 15 years ago.
Waterfall.The camp is near the Klong Phu waterfalls.
Location. The camp is in the middle oft he jungle.
10 Elephants. We were riding a female elephant.
Asylum. The camp was founded as a refuge for elephants.
FACTS: About the elephants.
The asian elephant is smaller than the african elephant. Normally they’re 2-3,5m high and weight about 2,000–5,500 Kilogramm. Unlike the African elephants, the Asian elephants skin is less wrinkled and their trunk has some kind of finger. In Thailand, the elephant is like a talisman. The white elephant (chang phueak) was once a heraldic animal of Thailand. All the white elephants had to be presented to the King. All the others were used for work or war.
COSTS: Programme 1
The one hour tour costs 900 Baht (~13€)– you will be trekking 40 Minutes and then feed the elephants for about 20 minutes. The camp will provide you with food, but you can buy some fruit beforehand at the market, if you would prefer
COSTS: Programme 2
The 2-hour tour costs 1800 Bath (~45€). You will be trekking, feeding the elephants and you will visit a waterfall as well. You can take a bath with the elephants and give them a scrub.
TOUR: Trekking through the jungle
After showing us the camp, we were sprayed with mosquito protection. We got to know the animals and went trekking with a young elephant named Namwahnah, which means something like sweet water. I was allowed to sit in the front at the neck of the elephant. It was so great! I was sitting on the back of a wonderful and cute elephant. As a child, I was always watching Tarzan or the jungle book and I always wished to be with the wild and big animals. And now I’m sitting on an elephant’s back without shoes and I can feel her ears tickle my feet. I can’t even describe the feeling! The trip continued over rough and smooth terrain, through rivers, up and down. Namwahnah was lovely. I was talking to her in a low voice and I stroked her head. When we were in the river, Namwahnah sucked in water in her trunk and poured it over us. This was really fun.
TOUR: Bathing & Scrubbing at the Waterfall
After the Tour through the jungle, it was time for some relaxing time for us and the elephants. We walked to the waterfalls and spent some time there.
Info: Asian Elephants do not sweat and pant to cool down. They can only cool down by night.
It’s also important to scrub the elephants, so flies and parasites can’t lay their eggs or faeces into the animals skin. The animals seemed to love the water. They stomped into the water, dived in there, and showered themselves with water. I swam over to Namwahnah, climbed onto her back and scrubbed it for her. What an experience. I was really thrilled and my endorphines went crazy.
TOUR: Feed the elephants
After so much adrenaline, we were hungry and thirsty. Just like the elephants. We were bringing the elephants to their feeding ground. We brought some fruits, but there are pineapples, corn, veggies and sugar canes prepared as well.
Info: Only approach the animals from the front and not from a direction where they can’t see you or you might scare them.
Namwahnah seemed very happy and she devoured the food in seconds. If you stand in front of an elephant, you realize how huge they really are. I was scared for a moment, but I forgot really fast. It was so nice feeding them and petting them.
TOUR: The End & Free food in the camp
I already mentioned that we were hungry as well. After the feeding, we were brought back to our hotel. While waiting for the cab, we enjoyed fresh coconuts, fruits, water, tea and coffee as well as some bisquits. What can I tell you – can you imagine how tasty the fruit was? You can’t even compare them to those in the supermarket. The pineapple tasted 10000x better and was the best I ate so far. It was already time to say goobye – and this was really hard. I’d have loved to stay there for the whole day.
» ALL IN ALL: My Review!
I have to say, I found the day in Ban Kwan Chang Camp to be really great and I fully enjoyed the time with the animals. I can’t guarantee that it’s still as great as it was in 2014. The elephants seem so mighty and strong, but they’re also loving, delightful animals. ♥
I hope, that Namwahnah and the other elephants in Koh Chang Ban Kwan Chang are well and that they’re treated kindly by their owners and the tourists. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to all the camps.
For this reason, I’m asking you: Please do research before you visit an elephant camp in Thailand. Get a look first before you book a tour. If you want to be sure, talk to the people and try to find out more about the camps first like we did. I saw a lot of terrible camps and I was horrified by the numbers of people visiting there.