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Elephant bathing with Eco Khao Lak in Thailand

Elephant bathing in Thailand with Eco Khao Lak

During our Thailand adventure we booked several organised tours to see Khao Lak and the surrounding area. Lauren simply loves elephants and as Thailand's national animal is the elephant it made sense to try and see these magnificent giants in their homeland. I had read much about "elephant tourism" in Thailand and wanted to book a tour that was ethical with an organisation that cared about the elephants well-being - not just their profits. We also knew that we didn't want to go elephant trekking. Bearing these things in mind, we found a suitable package that met out criteria - Elephant Bathing with Eco Khao Lak. Some general points about this tour are listed below:

  • 3600 THB Total (includes pickup from Khao Lak Hotels.
  • Collection time from hotel between 07:30-08:30am (depending on location).
  • Tour length: approximately 4.5 hours.
  • Includes feeding and bathing elephants, lunch and a visit to a turtle sanctuary

To sum up this tour in a short sentence we would say it was extremely good value, enjoyable, and was a great way to interact ethically with elephants.

Feeding our elephants Bananas!

Hotel Transfer

The hotel collection was straightforward - we received a pickup time via email and the mini bus was outside our lobby on time. The bus was air-conditioned and comfortable. Nothing more can be said about this - it was straightforward, easy and convenient.

Walking the elephants to the lagoon

Elephant Feeding

We arrived at the elephant camp and could see them straight away! Our guide Ling gave us some information and rules and then we walked over to the elephants to feed them delicious bananas! You are given a basket of bananas each for free but you could also buy additional baskets for 100 THB each. We proceeded to feed the elephants and it was clear to see that they loved it and enjoyed the interaction and food. Our elephant kept reaching out with its trunk to suck the bananas out of our hands - it was the first time we had been up close to these animals and it was a superb experience!

Feeding time!

Out elephant appeared to be greedy so we brought another basket of bananas for her - she really did enjoy them! Once our elephants were fed, we walked them over to the lagoon and got changed into our bathing gear.

The lagoon and surrounding landscape

Elephant Bathing

Once the elephants were in the lagoon we walked down into the water with them. Out guide Ling gave us clear instructions on what we could and couldn't do like touching their ears or tusks or standing directly in front of them. The lagoon was part of a river and the bed was covered with smooth stones and sand - it was easy enough to walk through and a really beautiful setting.

Huts where we fed the elephants

So what's it like to wash an elephant? Absolutely unforgettable and breathtaking! We were given brushes and were encouraged to splash the elephants and give them a good scrub - they enjoy it and it helps them relax (It also helps them take huge dumps!!!!) We happily scrubbed down our elephants and it was really ineresting to feel their skin and look at their beautiful features up close. One of the elephants became playful and started spraying water from her trunk into my face!

Elephants in the lagoon

You do not realise how big and powerful these animals are until you are stood next to one as she towers over you! After what felt like an age we exited the water and said goodbye to the gentle giants. With the sun beaming down on our heads, the elephants relaxing and everyone having a laugh, I cannot imagine a better way to interact with these gorgeous animals.

Elephants in the lagoon

Elephant Welfare

For those of you who may be worried about elephant cruelty and welfare I am certain the elephants here were looked after and treated with care and love. The following pointers should ease your concerns:

  • The four elephants are NOT used for trekking.
  • Each elephant had its own Mahut.
  • The Mahut's carrier small sticks with hooks attached but they never used them - they are for self defence only and to protect the tourists if an elephant becomes dangerous.
  • The Mahut's hardly used any physical force to make the elephants move.
  • The four elephants looked healthy, happy and had no noticeable scars or wounds.
Bathing with the gentle giants in the lagoon

Turtle Sanctuary

Once we had left the elephant sanctuary we made our way to the navy base in Khao Lak which contains a turtle sanctuary. The turtles are rescued from the Similan Islands and reared at the naval base. This might seem strange, but through the conservation work done at the base, the survival rate of the turtles has risen from 10% to 40% which is an amazing achievement.

1 day old baby turtle

The sanctuary has various different tanks containing different aged turtles; from just a few days old up to 11 years old! Furthermore, one of the tanks contained turtles who had a disability such as a deformed shell. It was fascinating to see these beautiful sea creatures at different stages of their development and the work that was being undertaken at the naval base.

Thai Buffet Meal

To finish off a perfect day we were taken to a local restaurant and treated to a delicious Thai buffet. The food was truly mouth-watering and tasted fantastic. We had spring rolls, massaman curry, noodles, egg rice and some crispy salads. The service was spot on and we could tell that this was real authentic Thai cooking - not the watered town touristy versions in the main cities.

Delicious Thai buffet meal Coconut milk treats

This tour provided by Eco Khao Lak was undoubtedly a highlight of our trip. Our tour guide Ling was really friendly and knowledagble and made the experience more interesting. If you want to enjoy an ethical encounter with elephants in Khao Lak, in our opinion there is no better option!

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