Journey to Freedom: Life in a Thai Karen Village

Thus far, my time with the Journey to Freedom program, Elephant Nature Park’s “premier volunteering experience,” had been incredible.

Even though the weather had been wet and dreary, this couldn’t stifle the raw excitement I felt of actually getting to interact with Asian elephants in their natural habitat. While this is definitely the major selling point that convinces visitors to fork over 15,000 THB (about $425 USD) for the 7-day excursion, there is another aspect that had me just as excited. As part of the overall experience, volunteers spend 5-nights embedded in a small Northern Thai Karen village, providing a unique perspective not offered by other programs in the area. Read More

My Week with the Journey to Freedom Elephants

Squeezing through waves of banana leaves and thorny roots, I’m able to find it – the perfect angle to capture this small herd of Journey to Freedom elephants.

Preoccupied with all the Thai jungle foliage, they could care less about my presence. I make the mistake of looking away for just a moment, only to be startled by a loud crackle-pop that echoes through the treetops. As my vision through the viewfinder comes back into focus, I have only a half-second to snap a picture of a large banana tree as it tumbles towards the rest of my group.

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