Elephant Nature Park (Dogs)
ENP (Dogs) Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Mia
Elephant Nature park or ENP for short is home to many elephants and around 350 dogs. This elephant and dog sanctuary is 100% ethical and the heart of everthing is the welfare of the animals. This is a no riding / no bathing sanctuary and none of the elephants are chained. They are allowed to wonder freely around the park (but always with a mahout). ENP are home to not only dogs and elephants but monkeys, buffalows, cats, horses and many other animals. I had heard a lot about ENP and it is run incredibly well with the founder clearly passionate about what she does.
Note: You can only volunteer at weekly intervals and you either volunteer one week with the elephant OR one week with the dogs, you cant mix them up unless you stay for 2 weeks.
Location: Chiang Mia, North Thailand.
Cost: 7000 baht per week for the dog section, 12’000 baht per week for the elephants.
Dailey expenses: None, everything included
Accommodation: On site accommodation in a shared volunteer complex where you share with up to 10 volunteers. Each room sleeps around 3 to 4 people. The rooms are very basic with an outside shower and toilet, nets are provided over the single beds to keep out mosquitoes. There are many dogs runs around the volunteer area and around 8 dogs that live with the volunteers so its noisy but always good fun and never dull or lonely.
Note: The elephant area and the elephant volunteers are housed in a completely different area on the other side of the park from the dog section.
The sanctuary and complex is huge with a very large dining / social area in the middle that all the volunteers and overnight guests share. Food is included in the price of 7000 bht and is buffet stye vegetarian / vegan breakfast , lunch and evening dinner. Its all you can eat and I can vouch its delicious. You definitely get your monies worth.
Tasks: You are assigned an area in the dog section when you arrive and depending on how many other volunteers there are. This will be your area for the duration of your stay. Its very organised and well scheduled and stays the same every day so everyone knows what they are doing and where they should be. It takes a couple of days to get used to the routine but I really liked the way it was run. I was assigned the clinic so we cleaned the treatment cages and fed the dogs in the morning, followed by a walk so they could get out and stretch their legs. Late morning once we had finished our duties we helped take out the disabled dogs in the wheelchairs. This was always a lot of fun and the highlight of my day. After lunch we cleaned and fed the clinic dogs again and then we did daily pack runs as a group. The last hour of the day you were free to hang out with your favorite dogs.
What I liked: Everything about ENP is about the welfare and happiness of the animals and this included the dogs. The dog runs are huge so even though they don’t get walked every day you know they have plenty of space. The disabled dogs are cared for incredibly well and get taken out every day in the wheelchairs. Late morning many of the elephant volunteers come over, once they have finished their chores for the morning , so sometimes their can be more volunteers than dogs. The system they have in place is brilliant though and the welfare and happiness of the dogs is a top priority. When you walk the dogs you always come across elephants with the mahouts as the dog walking area runs through the sanctuary for the elephants. Its really special and not something you will get anywhere else. On my last day I had a free small private tour with a guide and another volunteer and he took us around the park to introduce us to some of the elephants and gave us the full “elephant” tour we didn’t get whilst helping with the dogs. In the evenings there’s plenty to do on site, after dinner you can have a massage or watch a movie or have a couple of beers with the other volunteers. I really bonded with my group and enjoyed sharing the experience with them.
Other things to note: The cost for this is the highest in all the places I have volunteered at, but then when you see what they do and where the money goes then its completely justified. However due to the cost I decided one week was enough, I would probably have stayed much longer if it was free or a lot less expensive. Apart from that it was great and like no other place I have volunteered at before. Its really very special here and all money goes back into running the sanctuary and saving more elephants and dogs. If you are considering volunteering anywhere this is definitely in my top 3.
Would I recommend: Yes