In my previous Falling In Love with Thailand report, I explored Phuket and Khao Lak.
Here I will describe my amazing experience with the wonderful Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Camp.
Elephant Hills is split into two separate areas – The Jungle Tented Camp and the Floating Camp. Both have perfectly comfortable zip-up tents, with en-suite shower and toilet.
The Jungle Camp has a swimming pool. No need in the Floating Camp as you swim in the lake! From the moment you arrive Elephant Hills looks after you. The accommodation, meals, activities and transfers are all included. Depending on the programme you are on, you are put into small groups, which means you can share your experiences with other travellers from around the globe.
My first day/night was in the Jungle Tented Camp area. Once you have settled in your guide gives you a briefing on what to expect, how to dress and the lay of the land. After lunch, we went off to a mangrove river trip by canoe. We saw monkeys, birds and a few snakes high up in the trees.
Next, it was time to meet the majestic elephants. There are 11 in total and the more time you spend with them you quickly realise how individual they are. Each has its own wonderful personality. Some of you will be happy to know there is no riding. Just feeding, scrubbing and showering. And if you are not careful they can give you a bath too!! A really worthwhile experience.
Then it was back to my tent for a well-deserved shower. Before dinner where I learned to make one of my favourites: Papaya salad, with treble chillies! The food was tasty, generous and healthy, despite being buffet style.
Next morning, up early (main suitcase left with the lodge, so just overnight bag) we proceeded to the Floating Lodge Camp on Cheow San Lake, which was created with the building of the Ratchaprapha Dam. The Floating Lodge offers no alcohol either. So along the way you are offered the chance to visit the local village to go shopping.
Next stop was a visit to the beautiful dam for a photo opportunity. This was followed by a 55 minutes long tail journey to the floating camp. The journey is spectacular. You twist and turn in-between numerous limestone islands, before arriving at the Lodge. It’s just draw-dropping. So incredible. The lake was opened in 1987 with the flooding of the area and now covers more than a vast 187 square kilometres.
The Floating Camp’s tents are all individual, joined together by poles and boardwalk with the restaurant in the middle. No electricity – just solar power, so you are limited to what you can use.
After lunch, I decided to go on a 5.5km jungle trek to a mountain top escorted by two rangers. It was tough going, especially as the ground was slippery, but we all made it in one piece. Although you do not get the see many animals or birds, we could certainly hear them and see their tracks. We ended the climb with a quick exploration of a bat cave. Can’t say it is one of my favourite places to be, but I wanted to see it before descending down from the peak.
My long trek was followed by a well-deserved swim in the lake. A quick shower, more food and then a restful night, in almost total darkness. I’m sure some would go crazy without wi-fi and nothing but nature to entertain you, but for me, it was pure bliss. One of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages.
Next morning it was kayak time. Never done it before, but I said to myself, how difficult could it be! You need to have good upper body strength and excellent posture, that much is certain. After 10 minutes my arms and back started to ache, so doing it for an hour was challenging. In the end, it was a delightful experience. Everything around you is so serene, except for the familiar sound of the monkeys. We also made a friend by way of an otter who was busy having his breakfast.
Fun Otter Fact – Otters can have up to one million hairs per square inch. There are two layers of fur, an undercoat and then longer hairs that we can see. The layers manage to trap air next to the otter’s skin, which keeps the otters dry and warm and also helps with buoyancy. Otter pups have so much air trapped in there, they can’t dive underwater.
A little sore, I returned back to my tent, had another swim, lunch and then reluctantly departed by longtail back to the ferry point. I said goodbye to my fellow travellers/adventurers and was greeted by my transport, together with my main luggage. We then continued by road to Krabi.
Chic Locations have sold Elephant Hills very well over the years, but I have never experienced it first hand. It surpassed my expectations on so many levels. Absolutely wonderful. It is so totally unique, brilliantly organised, yet it retains a real sense of adventure. I can easily put this up there with some of my most memorable travel experiences. And the weather was great! Unseasonably hot and sunny with not a hint of rain.
Of course, you do have to be comfortable living alongside nature, but being close to nature is exactly why you would stay here!
I totally recommend a stay with Elephant Hills for those looking for something very different and adventurous. With Chic it is very easy to add onto your beach stay in Phuket, Khao Lak, Krabi, Surat Thani or Samui.
As you can see, I had a wonderful time with Elephant Hills and I would be more than happy to share my experiences with you. Get in touch with me here.