Elephants and Hilltribes: A Family Tour
Day 1: Chiang Mai – Mae Chon (Palong Village)
Your guide and driver will meet you at 0800 at your hotel for your private family tour. We will drive to the Mae Sa Valley, the location of the Thai Elephant Care Center, an animal and child-friendly elephant camp. Here you will learn about the Asian Elephant. The Asian elephant is an endangered species. The Elephant Care Center doesn’t offer shows or riding. Before you meet the elephants, you will get safety instructions. These elephants are still wild animals, although they have been living in captivity. You can change into comfortable clothes that are available if you want to bathe with the elephants.
Meet some elderly elephants and get close to them. You will learn to make elephant food from dried grass. You can feed these “herb balls” to the elephants. Then it is time for bathing. You can get into the water and scrub them clean. It’s fun! You will also visit the elephant cemetery and the place where the elephants rest at night time. Then it is time to say goodbye to your elephant friends.
It is time to move on. Take a shower, change back to your clothes and we will be on our way to Chiang Dao. We will have lunch in a Palong village. After a delicious Thai lunch, we will start our trek into the forest. We can adjust this hike to your requirements. The trail goes up and down, but it is mostly relatively easy going. Your guide will explain about specific trees and plants in the forest. There will be plenty of time for taking pictures. The hike will lead you through the community forest of the villages. There are some beautiful views.
After arrival in the village, the kids have the opportunity will participate in fun activities in the village. These can vary from picking fruit, collecting veggies for dinner, feeding the pigs or taking part in sports with children from the village. One of our guides, Sukhum, has a fruit garden which is worth a visit. Many different varieties of fruit, herbs and vegetables are growing in his backyard. It will depend on the season, but you will probably see bananas, jackfruit, guava, papaya, longan and many other varieties. Sukhum grows mountain rice as well as edible bamboo.
We will pick some of the ingredients for our dinner in this garden. Your guide can teach you how to cook traditionally. You will learn some local cooking. After dinner, your guide will take you to one of the village houses where you will meet some of the villagers. The Palong people are relatively recent arrivals in Thailand. They fled political unrest in Myanmar in the 1980s. They call themselves Dara-Ang but are known in Thailand as Palaung or Palong.
Overnight will be in a bamboo hut in the village.
Day 2: Mae Chon(Palong village) – Chiang Mai
The second day of your Family Tour. The villages will come to life at an early hour. Pigs, dogs and roosters will become active before sunrise. Your guide will prepare breakfast while villagers will set a small souvenir market in front of the house. Enjoy your breakfast. After breakfast, it is time for a stroll through the village, which is still very traditional. We’ll visit the local weavers who are making amazing traditional textiles. We will pass the village shrine and the village heart aka “huja rawl”. We will drop by the local school to donate some pens and paper. It is time for the morning hike, which is a relaxing, relatively flat walk to a Karen village. The Karen are another of the ethnic groups in North Thailand. They migrated to Thailand much earlier than the Palong.
The famous Sticky Waterfalls
Our last stop today will be the “Sticky Waterfalls” aka locally as the Buatong Waterfalls. The falls are in the forests of the Sri Lanna National Park. Crystal clear water cascades over the limestone rocks. You can see people walk up and down the falls. The limestone is not slippery so you can try that yourself as well. You can also relax, enjoy the beautiful surroundings and take a refreshing swim before we drive back to Chiang Mai. We will drop you at your hotel at around 1700. It is the end of your Elephants and Hilltribes Family Tour.