How often do you see an elephant up close and personal? Well imagine building on that experience and having the opportunity to stroke an elephant, prepare food and then feed him, before rolling up your sleeves and giving him a wash. These are all part of the fantastic experience of Elephant Hills, Thailand.
To get there, Elephant Hills arrange the transfer from, in our case Phuket, but they will collect you from a range different locations and this is all included in the price of your stay. From Phuket airport it is around a 2.5 hour transfer by road and it’s a pleasant journey with stunning scenery. As you get closer, and higher into the hills, you may be fortunate enough to view an elephant along the roadside, as well as other wildlife. Elephant Hills is situated close to the jungle of the Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand’s rainforest.
Arriving at Elephant Hills you do really feel you are in the jungle. The main reception, bar and eating areas are all open sided but covered over, rain is a strong possibility in the jungle. There are around 36 tents at Elephant Hills and you will be able to charge drinks to your tent as you go, board is Full Board so all of your meals are included and we ate some of the best Thai food at here during our trip to Thailand and Malaysia. You will be impressed by the huge range of drinks available at the bar and they are all reasonably priced, so you can enjoy a relaxing drink of your favourite tipple after the day’s activities are over.
Shortly after arrival you head off to meet the elephants. Its a short drive (ten minutes or so) and you get the first glimpse of the Asian Elephant. Each elephant has a keeper and you are given advice as to how to behave close to the elephants including how to feed them. To begin with we met the elephants up close and were able to stroke them and feel their skin which is very touch and leathery. The keepers then took them into their huge pool to cool down; because of their thick skins elephants need to regularly cool down in the water to keep their temperature regulated.
At this point we were shown how to prepare their food. This included chopping pineapples and sugar cane up. They are also given bunches of palm like leaves in bundles as well as tamarind which is wrapped up in little parcels to disguise the tamarind. This is because the elephants don’t really like the taste of the tamarind but it aids the digestion of their food. We then had the opportunity to feed our prepared food to the elephants which they readily took from us with their trunks and popped into their mouths. Occasionally they will drop some of their food in front of them to eat later so we were advised to leave the food where it falls in case they thought we were stealing their food!
After eating, the elephants are ready for a wash. We were able to clean the elephants using hosepipes and a rough palm bark scrubber. The elephants love being washed, just watch out for swishing tails!
Lunch is served back in the main camp and there is an excellent choice of beautiful food and fresh fruits. And then it’s onto the next activity. For us, this was the river kayaking. With 2 people to a kayak plus an oarsman from Elephant Hills you will glide down the river watching out for glimpses of wildlife but mainly just relaxing in the peaceful tranquility of the jungle.
At the end of the day at Elephant Hills you can start to relax and enjoy the facilities , perhaps by having a swim in the resort’s inviting pool. As darkness draws in there is an opportunity to enjoy a drink in the well-stocked bar before enjoying dinner with your fellow guests.
As this is Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camp, the accommodation provides the kind of facilities you could expect to find in a good quality hotel. With ample space, each tent has comfortable solid beds, a fan, tea and coffee making facilities, and a great bathroom with hot and cold shower. The tents offer protection against mosquitoes and other intruders and have adequate lighting, providing a great space for you to sleep and relax whilst listening to the murmurings of the rainforest.
There are different itineraries available when guests arrive at Elephant Hills with stays of 2, 3 or 4 days possible. Our stay was for 2 nights with the second night spent at Elephant Hills rainforest camp which is one of the world’s only luxury floating tented camps. To get to the camp it involves a one hour road journey followed by a short boat ride from the pier at Ratchaprapha.
As you get the first glimpse of the floating tented camp it becomes apparent just what a wonderful setting you will be spending the night in, surrounded by towering limestone mountains, sitting peacefully on the serene Cheow Lan Lake. Each of the floating tents has a wonderful seating area in front of your sleeping quarters so that you can enjoy the sun rise and drop against the backdrop of the jungle. This makes it really easy to swim in the emerald green waters of the lake, or to make use of the kayak which each tent has allocated to them and allows you to explore the klongs and channels of monkeys, birds and other wildlife.
Again there is a bar and great food whilst staying at Elephant Hills tented camp with a lovely peaceful atmosphere. All of the facilities are designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, with solar and wind energy utilised and, unique waste management systems contributing to the camp’s efficiency.
The tents are similar in style and space to those at the main Elephant Hills site but because they are solar powered means that you should conserve electricity as much as possible. The whole Elephant Hills experience is a great way to experience Thailand’s rainforest and to get up and close to the Asian elephant without losing all of your little luxuries. For more information get in touch with Conexo Travel and we will be delighted to answer any questions you may have.