I have always been an animal lover and especially fascinated by the gentle elephants. Unfortunately most of the companies across Thailand don’t care about the animal welfare and it is obvious how the animals are mistreated. With the sights of chained baby elephants or starving adults more and more people choose not to go for an elephant trekking in Thailand. Many of the elephants have scars all over their bodies and it is not uncommon to see a bleeding elephant.
But then, is it all lost for people like me, that actually care about the animals and would love to be able to get closer to them?
During my last visit to Krabi this January, I found out more information about one company that stands out from the crowd. The Huay Tho Waterfall Safari in Krabi, part of the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand.
The safari camp is situated near the village of Huay Tho and around ten elephants call it home. All of them are raised and kept by the local villagers. The Huay Tho Waterfall Safari’s website is not that fancy and it doesn’t give much information. There aren’t many reviews over the internet as well.
There are few programs offered and I picked the Half Day tour that included the Elephant Trekking and Elephant Bath, and cost 900 baht.
I was picked up from my hotel with a local songthaew together with few more people. After a short drive from Ao Nang we arrived at the camp site at Huay Tho.
The people there were very positive and welcoming to all. The camp wasn’t far away from the main road, but it was far enough to make you feel like you are deep in the jungle. There were four female elephants and a baby. Everyone got on an elephant, together with a keeper, and our trek in the jungle started.
During the trek the keepers didn’t hit the elephants not even once. In fact they were waiting patiently, when the curious giants stopped to eat greens or just to investigate something that got their attention. As far as I managed to see, all of the elephants didn’t had any scars and were in a very good shape.
The trek followed a nearby river and we managed to see a variety of insects and animals while we enjoyed the ride. The elephant keepers didn’t speak any English, but were cheerful and kind and often stopped and showed us snakes that were laying near by, or giant spiders that had nets between the tree branches.
After the trek everyone were invited to learn more about the elephants in Thailand as well as to dive into some hearty plates of local, fresh fruits. We shared few bananas with the elephants and got our attention to the little one, that was standing near by.
It was a female elephant, aged 4.We all got to bath with her in the small pond near by. To be honest the elephant wasn’t very happy to get into the water and started to make noise trying to call her mom, which was near by. I suppose she was taking a bath at least 3 to 4 times a day, with all the different groups of tourists.
For about five to ten minutes we got to scrub, wash and sprinkle the little giant with the refreshing water. After the shower the baby elephant got a rewarding meal of delicious pineapple leaves, while we were listening to some very interesting facts about the elephants.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the experience I got at the Huay Tho Waterfall Elephant Safari. By far it is among the best elephant safaris that can be found in Thailand. The money you pay go for a good cause, to help the local elephants. If you are traveling to Krabi and have few hours to spare, make sure you visit the Huay Tho Waterfal Safari. Usually most of the hotels and tour agencies have brochures of the safari. If you want to make your own way there, they are located at 114 Moo 4 Tapprik, Muang, Krabi 81000 Thailand.
Another great place to meet with this gentle giants is at BLES – a non profit organization that works towards elephants welfare and rescue. As they describe the organization – “BLES is passionately devoted to creating a safe and natural home for Thai elephants. We care for rescued and retired elephants, allowing them to interact freely within 500 acres of forested land. There are no performances — just elephants.”