When Mercedes decided to visit, her number one request was that we do something with animals. I was certainly interested as well, particularly in doing an elephant trek in Thailand, but I was also concerned with choosing an ethical tour service that treated its animals well.
I know through personal experience that such is not always the case. In Korea, our school took a field trip to a zoo whose conditions were pretty depressing. All of the animals were in relatively small cages – fine for say, a gerbil, but not for larger animals, like a bear. I realize that not every zoo can be the Bronx Zoo (or the Singapore Zoo…more on that in another post), but it’s completely irresponsible to keep animals that big in such small spaces.
While researching elephant treks in Thailand, I learned that many companies mistreated their elephants and would cram as many tours as they could into one day in order to maximize profits. I finally found one that had good reviews, and only ran two tours per day (it’s my understanding, too, that each elephant does only one trek per day). I don’t think tourist activities like this are inherently bad, but I do think it’s important to do your research.
Anyway! On our second day in Thailand, we did an elephant trek through the jungle. We were picked up at our hotel and joined by just one other family. We had a nice, bumpy ride in the back of a pick-up truck to the elephant camp (which I haven’t done in a long time and was actually really fun)…
…we finally arrived! I was so glad that it was just myself, Mercedes and a nice Canadian family of four. It was two to an elephant, with a guide riding shotgun. The intimacy of the tour made for a quiet, peaceful experience.
After our trek through the jungle, we were able to feed our elephants some bananas.
After saying goodbye to our new friends, we hopped back on the truck for the second part of our tour: Huay Toh Waterfall. To be fair, this was not really a tour so much as getting dropped off at a national park and being told we would be picked up in an hour. Fine by me!
It was a short hike up to the waterfall, and like our elephant trek, we were the only ones there. It was nice to dip our feet/legs in the cold water after sustaining many, many mosquito bites in the jungle.
We had such an amazing time, both with the elephants and at the waterfall. Stay tuned for my final Thailand recap on Railey Beach!