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“Terrifying at times”

Patara Elephant Farm - Private Tours
Reviewed 10 July 2018 via mobile

I wanted to love this experience - especially given the price having chosen Patara over the many other options because of the reviews and inclusions. Yes the elephants seem well cared for but I felt the program gave little consideration to well being of participants at times, especially children. We were 2 families of 4 doing the Elephant Owner for the afternoon package - 2 per elephant. Our children are aged between 11 and 6.
The good:
- heaps of time to interact with the elephants up close
- educational in that there were a number of talks about how to keep elephants healthy and explained with lots of humour
- elephant carer with you whole time (1 per elephant)
- their photographers taking photos of you that you can download from the website later
- they accommodated one member of our group who has back problems and could only participate in certain activities
The not so good:
- there was a lot of time standing around with no information about what was happening which even our children found confusing. For the adults, the particular challenge was about where to leave belongings which are left unattended for long periods - especially concerning if you are paying cash which you don’t do until the very end.
- to get some set up photos, the elephants are right behind you in the water (I mean trunk touching your head) so when they blasted us with water it hurt and my 8 yo found this terrifying, especially with her back to the elephants not knowing what was going on. I hated this bit as it hurt my ear and given the state of the water.
- the water is exactly as other reviewers have said, filthy and smelly, and the only reason I think we coped with this is I had forewarned our group based on other reviews
- the elephant ride is downright dangerous for first time elephant riders in my opinion. There are no flat sections, instead an extended ride both up and down very steep (and in our case, muddy and slippery) terrain. Both myself and my daughters nearly fell off a number of times and we are fit and adventurous but this is an accident waiting to happen- especially given the height of the elephants. I’d go so far as to say irresponsible, especially with children involved. If we had been told this was the case via the website, we could have made choices about this.
- our handler was just going through the motions and really wasn’t working to ensure we could manage our elephant with the commands they teach you. Our elephant’s name was pronounced Bake-O (sp?). Bake-O was not cooperative and I got the sense she had had enough that day. She ran and veered off track a few times which was when we nearly fell off going downhill and our carer wasn’t even paying attention.
- they say you can shower at the end. The shower wasn’t working- just a trickle of water - so while I changed, my hair was uncomfortably wet and smelly for the hour trip back. BYO towel.
So in summary you get lots of great time up close with these amazing animals, but more consideration needs to be given to needs of participants, or at least more information provided, so you can choose which activities suit you. Again, this is especially an issue if you take children.

Thank moretosee2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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33 - 37 of 3,972 reviews

Reviewed 9 July 2018 via mobile

A once in a lifetime experience spending the day caring for the elephants at Patara. “Jack” picked us up, led our group through the day without feeling rushed or overly touristy and answered all our questions. My husband & I had visited a few years ago and were lucky enough to be back again but this time with the kids. Lunch is delicious and the rustic setting gives a feeling of authenticity to the experience. Photos of our day awaiting our download in the evening after returning to Chiang Mai is an excellent bonus! More time just experiencing the elephants than trying to capture the perfect picture. Thank you to all the mahouts & elephants for a magical day! ❤️

Thank 555bree51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 9 July 2018 via mobile

It has been a few months and I’m still showing people videos and talking about this amazing place!!
I can’t say enough great things!! The elephants were so great to see up close and interact with.
The staff was caring, knowledgeable, and so good with both us and the elephants.
I can’t wait to come back and stay longer!!

Thank KirstenDillinghamAK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 29 June 2018 via mobile

A great experience. The elephants here seemed really content and comfortable, and seemed to have a nice relationship with their mahouts. The day included meeting the elephants, feeding them, bathing and providing skin care and then walking with or riding on them barebacked for about 20mins. A really unforgettable experience. Even in the lashing rain it is was such a great day. The staff here seemed to really know and care out the elephants. It is more expensive than other parks but for us it was worth it. The professional photographs free of charge were a nice extra too.

Thank Katie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 27 June 2018

I had hopes for this experience and tried to temper them coming in. Luckily, the experience met and exceeded my expectations. The staff is all very knowledgeable and the experience does become very personalized. At first, we all gathered to just see the elephants, including some baby elephants; I was leery thinking this was going to be it. While it was fun, people started cutting others off to be closer and get that better shot. I was starting to become a tad disillusioned.

However, then we moved on to the next meeting point. This is where one is actually assigned an elephant. You get some information about elephants, and their dung, and then move off to feed your elephants. Very cool. *Pro tip: spray insect repellent on at the first stop as there are mosquitoes here. I didn't get bit more than three times in three weeks in Southeast Asia until this place; I had to make a mad dash to the bathroom to spray some on at this point*

After feeding, you do a basic brushing off of your elephant and then you're off to ride them. If you are physically able, seriously this is like riding an extremely wide horse bareback, take the jungle route. It feels surreal to cruise through the jungle on an elephant. You then arrive for lunch, which was quite good. After lunch, you go in a lake area and wash your elephant down.

They take a lot of pictures for you, which are quite good. You also have an opportunity to take pictures, or your personal guide will for you, at the second stop. You will get sweaty and dirty. Know this. Don't bring your Gucci suit here.

Great experience. If you're debating it, just do it.

2  Thank Mark S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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