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The Elephant Experience

The mahout explained, "Elephants will not work until they are fed and bathed." I never expected to wash an elephant! This was much closer than I thought I would ever get to an elephant.
The mahout explained, "Elephants will not work until they are fed and bathed." I never expected to wash an elephant! This was much closer than I thought I would ever get to an elephant.
(Photos by Sandy Zimmerman)

As I walked to my tent there was a feeling of adventure, the jungle began just on the other side of this path. So close to the jungle, yet guests did not have to rough it.

The Elephant Hills Resort is the first luxury tented jungle camp in Thailand. The owner went to Borneo, Kenya and South Africa to compare their luxury safari tents and found South Africa had superb quality tents.

These are water- proof, flame- proof, and mold- proof military spec canvas with special material developed in South Africa. Everyone is comfortable inside the tent with a hot shower, electric lights, hair dryer, plug-in coffee pot, safe, bathroom, bed and other furniture, and an external roof on top. The flaps zip open during the day and close at night.

We needed flashlights going back to our tents after eating dinner. Khao Sok is the largest area of rainforest in Southern Thailand. You do not have to be a young back packer to enjoy an adventure; everybody can enjoy nature if they do it the right way. At the Elephant Hills Resort, the staff does all the work.

I joined the "Elephant Experience", a jungle tour which claimed we would get up-close to the Asian elephants, interact with them, and learn the secrets of their mahouts (trainers).

The tour's name did not exaggerate how close we would be! First we took a boat to the elephant camp. Then they gave us baskets of raw vegetables, fruit and other foods for us to wash and cut into small pieces. After filling a large basket, it was brought to one of the elephants. Each of us fed our elephant until all of the food was gone.

The mahout explained, "Elephants will not work until they are fed and bathed." I never expected to wash an elephant! This was much closer than I thought I would ever get to an elephant.

The elephants were brought to a clearing where we scrubbed and washed them. As long as the mahout was there, I felt safe. I have heard of elephant safaris, but this goes beyond the other tours! The elephants were friendly and used to being with people.

The "Elephant Experience" is usually combined with one of their other treks and safaris. You can choose one of their tours or have it customized for you. The Elephant Hills Resort is located in Khao Sok, just 2-1/2 hours from Phuket, a one hour plane flight from Bangkok. www.elephant-hills.com