Elephant Nature Park and Chiang Mai
with Alyson Atma Simms
February 10-20, 2018
reservations now closed.
Please join our newsletter for the announcement of our next service retreat to Thailand
The heart of this adventure will be volunteering at Elephant Nature Park – a educational sanctuary for the endangered Asian elephant (among many other rescued animals!). We’ll spend 2 nights in Chiang Mai before heading to to ENP for 7 days of seva (“selfless service”). We’ll conclude with 2 additional night in Chiang Mai visiting beautiful Buddhist Temples and getting a taste of Northern Thai culture.
My favorite moments where when I was alone watching the elephants just be. They are such magnificent creatures and watching them get so much enjoyment out of simple things like playing the mud (my favorite!) made me feel peaceful and happy. I also loved the way a group of people who generally don’t know each other, bonded and worked together so well so quickly!
-Susanna, 2017 participant
Saturday, February 10th – Arrivals in Chiang Mai
Note: you may have to leave the US on February 8 or 9, and arrivals are often late night.
Transfer to CM 4* hotel – Rarin Jinda. Depending on arrivals, we’ll connect as we can and perhaps share dinner together. We will all meet at breakfast on the the 11th.
Sunday, February, 11th
Meet with the group. Acclimate. Simple walking tour.
Breakfast and Dinner included.
Monday, February 12th
Morning pick up and transfer to Elephant Nature Park!
Monday, February 12 – Sunday, February 18th
We will be amongst the volunteers for the week. They will provide a schedule of service, and we will be of service. Couples will recede a small private room. Others will be in rooms shared with 3, 4 or 5 others.Bathrooms and showers may be attached or just outside. Private shower rooms and bathroom stalls. Abundant vegan meals are included.
We will schedule a group yoga class, likely each afternoon, or as our schedule permits. Please bring a travel yoga mat.
This is our pleasure to assist in any way needed. Please be prepared to be a volunteer – there are videos included to give you an idea of what to expect.
Sunday February 18th – transfer back to Chiang Mai Hotel, group dinner.
Monday, February 19th – Chiang Mai temple tour (Doi Suthep the golden temple), famous night markets. Breakfast and group dinner included.
Tuesday, February, 20th– Transfers back to airport. Evening flights provide another day for explorations.
Participants are welcomed to add days on the front or back end at their own expense.
Read more about the Asian Elephant ...
There are two different species of elephant – the African (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian variety (Elephas maximus). The former is larger and there are a few distinct differences. The African species numbers are estimated at approximately 500,000 whilst the Asian variety has fallen to an disturbingly low estimated figure of below 30,000.
There are a number of elephant races within the Asian species. For instance the Indian elephant, is bigger, has longer front legs and a thinner body than their Thai counterparts. As the park deals exclusively with Thai elephants we will concern ourselves with this particular order. The facts are, however, generally applicable to all types of Asian Elephant.
Various authorities differ somewhat on exact details. Using our own experience and taking into account numerous sources we present you with our own interpretation. Elephants, like human beings, can and do vary in many characteristics, emotions and personality.
Asian Elephants – Existing Numbers
The Asian Elephant, still known to many as the Indian Elephant, is officially an endangered species. Present numbers have dropped to an alarmingly low level with estimates of under 30,000 left in the entire world. This disturbingly small number of survivors is epitomised by the fact that these gentle beast have been exterminated from large areas of their former habitat.
In Thailand there is an estimated 3,000-4,000 elephants. Around half of this number are domesticated, the remainder living wild in National Parks Reserves. Some 300 are suffer under appalling conditions in Bangkok.
It is notable that at the start of the 20th century (1900 AD) over 100,000 elephants graced the Siamese (Thai) countryside.
They are forced to walk on hot tarmac roads by gangs of elephant owners and beg for fruit and food. The owner of often buys the elephant purely to obtain begging money from sympathetic passers by. As he has scant experience with animal training, the hapless creature is cruelly treated and beaten as the rider becomes impatient. In the city the animal cannot possibly get the 200-300 kg of food and 100-200 litres of water necessary for it’s daily nourishment so it plods the hot polluted streets, thirsty hungry and confused. These animals quickly suffer from stress through polluted air, poor diet, dehydration, loneliness and their sensitive ears are soon damaged. Much of the fruit purchased from local sellers has been treated with chemicals and causes serious stomach problems and eventually death.
Other forms of, less apparent abuse come in the form of pet baby elephants featured at hotels and entertainment complexes. Although the animals may seem happy enough they are invariably fed the wrong diet, suffer from loneliness and boredom and will soon die. Many unwitting tourists, delighted at the sight of a “cute” baby elephant, are completely unaware that the lifespan of the creature is likely to be only a few years.
There are a number of important factors to consider but we will deal with the four main ones;
First and foremost is human encroachment in the domain of the elephant. With a fast growing population Asia does not have the land resources for both humans and the indigenous wildlife populations. There is not a government in the world that will sacrifice it’s voters in favour of mere animals.
Secondary is greed. Whilst it is inevitable that much land is set aside for growing human populations there are a number of influential persons seeking huge land areas for personal gain. Illegal logging and such environmentally detrimental pursuits lead to a reduction in grazing or browsing land for the animals.
Thirdly is poaching for ivory, skin or aphrodisiacs which the elephant is said to possess.
Fourthly: Sport. Unbelievably there are such deluded souls amongst us that actually think the killing a defenseless animal is sport. Wealthy patron’s of these games are willing to travel and pay handsomely for the sheer pleasure of “bagging” an elephant.
How Elephant Nature Park is helping
Through the development of our park we are providing a haven for these animals. The birth of three baby elephants within a few months of opening was both a joy for everyone at the park and a great encouragement.
Remember: There are less than 30,000 of the species left in the world and under 4,000 in Thailand 20% of which are believed to live in Chiang Mai province.
Travel, Additional Information & FAQ’s
Traveling to Thailand from the US is an adventure in itself.! Expect 2-3 plane changes and 25-35 hours of travel. You’ll need to leave the US on the 8th or 9th of February to arrive on the 10th. We know many of you will choose to spend time in advance in Bangkok or Southern Thailand, so arrival times will vary. Hotel rooms are typically ready by 2pm. That night and the following night will be in Chiang Mai, with Sunday available to acclimate before we depart for Elephant Nature Park on Monday Morning.
We will provide a pick up for airport and train arrivals on the 10th. If you are already on Chiang Mai, we will provide you with our hotel details so you can meet us there. Because we’ll be a smaller group (18 max) – we’ll make introductions and share arrivals in advance.
After our week at Elephant Nature Park, we’ll have 2 evenings and a full day in Chiang Mai before our departure back home. Again, some of you will choose to extend your stay, or spend some time in Southern Thailand (recommended!).
Your Retreat Leader
Alyson (Atma) Simms
Alyson Atma Simms, E-RYT 500, is a natural bridge between the earthly and divine realms. Her teaching style brings an intensity of spirit while enveloping you in grace and humor. Your body will tune, your mind will balance, your courage will be summoned, and most importantly, your soul will shine.
She was drawn to her first yoga class in 2001 to live a deeper life. Her true self was ignited and her life became one of devotion. Alyson has studied: Hatha, vinyasa, tantra, ashtanga, restorative, yin, zen mediation, qi-gong, yoga nidra, trance dance, and some good, old-fashioned sitting quietly on the floor. Her teaching, yoga practice, and healing ability and has taken her around the world to practice, study, and teach. [Read more about Alyson]
Double Occupancy in Chiang Mai Hotels and shared volunteer accomodations at Elephant Nature Park.
$1995 per person
in Chiang Mai Hotels, Elephant Nature Park only offers shared rooms:
Refunds and Cancellations: Refund less deposit ($595) before November 1, 2017. No refunds after November 1. In case of cancellation, you may transfer your deposit or your reservation to another person as long as you notify One Yoga Global 21+ days in advance. Due to arrangements made with our vacation hosts, there can be no exceptions to this policy.
If you place a deposit, the balance due will be set to charge in equal installments starting the month after deposit through January, 2018, unless other arrangements are made.
In the unlikely case of cancellation by One Yoga Global due to insufficient enrollment or logistical problems (acts of God, war, strikes, etc.) that may impede trip operations, please refer to the policies outlined in the more detailed application and liability waiver provided upon reservation. Participants will be required to sign the application and liability waiver to participate on this trip.
We HIGHLY recommend that you consider purchasing Travel Insurance. Travel insurance companies like TRAVEL GUARD offer policies that insure your investment in case you need to cancel (including “cancel for any reason” coverages), coverages for expenses incurred due to to weather & travel delays, personal property loss and emergency travel medical. Please review policies carefully to choose the coverage you need.