Our Project

With heart.
With feeling.
For elephants.

Elephant Special Tours offers a direct experience with elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With us, you have the unique opportunity to go on an animal tour with your family and immerse yourself in the Asian culture of elephant keeping. During your stay, you will be responsible for the care and supervision of an elephant, with Bodo Jens Förster and his team as well as the mahouts on hand to support you at all times. The incomparable proximity to the elephants will be an unforgettable experience for you. From Mae Sapok on the edge of the Doi Inthanon National Park, we also offer the opportunity to explore northern Thailand in a way that is hidden from most tourists. Our guests stay in well-kept accommodation from where we start our excursions. To ensure individual support, we limit the group size to a maximum of 8 people. Elephant Special Tours combines the advantages of a reliable online tour operator with personal advice. All details about our travel programs and further information can be found on our website. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone or via our inquiry form.

Adventure and animal welfare

Why our tours are worth their price.

There are many elephant tour operators in the north of Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. Many offer half-day or 1-day trips with different approaches.

At first glance, our offer may appear more expensive than that of our competitors. But there are reasons: Away from mass tourism, the elephants can find their own food in the forests of Chiang Mai, Thailand. We also make a point of communicating our tours in German and English with important information and expert knowledge.

More details here:

Kein Massentourismus

Oft bedeutet ein niedrigerer Preis, dass Sie Teil einer größeren Gruppe sein werden.

Mit Elephant Special Tours werden Sie jedem Elefanten einzeln vorgestellt. Jeder von ihnen hat seine eigene Geschichte – eine Geschichte, bei der wir uns Zeit nehmen, sie Ihnen zu erzählen.

Auch das Baden in einer großen Gruppe kann für Elefanten stressig sein, wenn es viele Leute gibt, die dabei herumspringen.

Natürliche Ernährung bei Ausflügen in Wälder

Wir sind zutiefst davon überzeugt, dass eine ganzhaltige Ernährung ein Schlüsselelement für das Wohlergehen dieser prächtigen Tiere ist. Deshalb garantieren wir ihnen eine Vielzahl von Speisen (Elefantengras, Maispflanzen, Heu, Bananenbäume, Reis und viele andere Kost), die ihre natürlichen Bedürfnisse berücksichtigen.

Das ist teuer, da Elefanten bis zu 400 Pfund pro Tag essen. Auch mieten wir viele verschiedene Wege, die durch den Wald führen – dort können die Elefanten ihr eigenes Futter in der Wildnis finden.

Kulturelle Verbindung

Unsere Touren werden von deutschen Elefantenexperten in Englisch und Deutsch präsentiert.

Gemeinsam mit unseren örtlichen Mitarbeitern können wir eine Informationsquelle bieten, die Einblicke in die nordthailändische Kultur aus einer Perspektive vorstellt, die die meisten Ausländer in hohem Maße schätzen.

Aus rechtlichen Gründen produzieren diese europäischen Experten höhere Kosten – ein Preis, den wir gerne bezahlen.

No mass tourism

Often a lower price means that you will be part of a larger group.

With Elephant Special Tours you will be introduced to each elephant individually. Each of them has its own story – a story that we take the time to tell you.

Bathing in a large group can also be stressful for elephants if there are lots of people jumping around.

Natural nutrition on trips to the forest
We are deeply convinced that a complete diet is a key element in the welfare of these magnificent animals. That is why we guarantee them a variety of foods (elephant grass, corn plants, hay, banana trees, rice and many other foods) that take their natural needs into account. This feeding procedure is expensive, as elephants eat up to 400 pounds per day. We also rent many different paths that lead through the forest – where the elephants can find their own food in the wild.
Cultural connection
Our tours are presented by German elephant experts in English and German. Together with our local staff, we can provide a source of information that introduces insights into Northern Thai culture from a perspective that most foreigners greatly appreciate. For legal reasons, these European experts produce higher costs – a price we are happy to pay.

Our elephant camps

It is important to us that the elephants are guaranteed a natural environment with sufficient food. That’s why the various paths we take with the animals lead through the nearby woods. Our tours are conducted in two different elephant camps. Our camps are about ten minutes away from the accommodation in the village of Mae Sapok. The camps are located close to a river and are surrounded by rice fields, small villages and dense forests. The area in the mountains of Chiang Mai borders the Doi Inthanon National Park. Our camps are easily accessible by off-road vehicle via country roads and forest tracks. Surrounded by teak forests and pure nature, the elephant camps each cover an area of around 2 hectares. Here our guests can enjoy staying with the elephants as well as a long bath in the river with the gentle giants. Our elephant herd is partly related to each other. We have attached great importance to this life style, as elephants are herd animals and need a family-like social structure. Each elephant is looked after by a qualified mahout. He will be at your side at all times during your stay and when working with the elephant. A covered eating area for lunch breaks, made of bamboo and pine wood, has been set up in each camp. The food for lunch is delivered and prepared fresh every day. Our Thai chefs will take care of your physical well-being. Drinking water is freely available to every guest. Each camp has a sanitary block.

Elephants and people

Elephants need us all

There is an emotional debate about whether tourism projects with elephants in human hands are good for the animals. We would like to explain why our project was created. We firmly believe that the conservation of animals can only take place together with local people.

Criticism of elephant tours has focused on animal welfare arguments – for good reason: in fact, numerous camps have been opened in recent years in which profit maximization has been the primary corporate goal over the welfare of the elephants. With the aim of accommodating as many guests as possible in the shortest possible time, the animals are pushed to their limits and beyond.

But if elephant camps are no longer visited by responsible guests from all over the world, a disservice is being done to the animals. It forces the elephant camps to turn to customer groups who only want quick fun and pure entertainment.

Elephant Special Tours has established itself with an approach that offers a unique concept with individual, German- and English-speaking care for guests and a calm, respectful approach to the animals.

We are convinced that this special approach to bringing humans and elephants together meets the needs of the animals and offers them a way to look happily into the future in the 21st century.

Living tradition.
Perceived future.
Modern animal welfare.

Elephant husbandry has a millennia-old tradition in Asia, especially in northern Thailand, where working elephants were used intensively in the timber industry. The population of Asian elephants is declining from year to year. There are still around 3500 trained working elephants and around 3000 – 3500 wild elephants living in Thailand today. Since logging, in which domesticated elephants were used as working elephants for centuries, has been banned since 1989, the elephants can only earn a living for themselves and their owners in the tourism industry.

The elephants fed entire families – until there were no more forests to cut down. However, the animals, which can live up to 80 years, still needed a livelihood, just like humans. Tourism was the only way here. This repositioning of elephant keeping began with the construction of various camps, which were primarily geared towards short basket rides. We have chosen a different approach in order to ensure the best possible individual contact with the animals on the one hand and to allow the elephants a relaxed life in tourism on the other.

It is necessary to offer elephants a future by providing them with a life as close to nature as possible. This life-style is possible in their very own surroundings if we walk this path together with them.

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