Elephant trekking is at the top of the “must-do” list of many first-time travelers to Thailand; myself included. Elephants have a majestic nature about them that is alluring and made for an unforgettable experience.
The morning after arriving to Phuket we were picked up from our hotel, Avista Hideaway Resort & Spa, along with a few other travelers. After about an hour ride, we arrived at the camp and were greeted by friendly staff (and thirsty mosquitoes…bring bug spray). The camp was clean and surrounded by vibrant green trees. Before going on the trek we were able to interact with two young elephants while feeding them bananas. The elephants seemed so excited to see us and were happy to indulge in treats!
Next we headed over to an elevated platform to get in a seat on top of an adult elephant. For the next 30 minutes or so the elephant gracefully took us through the lush forest that offered some of the best panoramic island views. If you think beaches of Phuket are gorgeous, wait until you see them from a birds-eye view…they are truly remarkable. Every so often the elephant would stop to eat leaves along the way. It even stopped for a quick bathroom break while we were sitting on top lol. (Hey, when you gotta go you gotta go.) Nothing got on us but it was interesting to say the least.
We spent about an hour at the camp which was plenty of time to interact with the elephants and learn a little bit about them. An interesting fact is the trainers that ride the elephants are known as mahouts. They are paired with the elephants when they’re young and stay with them throughout their lives. (Talk about dedication!)
There are also slight differences between Asian elephants and African elephants. The most noticeable difference is the size of the ears. African elephants have bigger ears that are used to fan their body to keep them cool in the heat. Asian elephants on average weigh about a ton less than African elephants and generally have smoother skin. African elephants have fuller more rounded heads while Asian elephants have two-dome heads with an indent in the middle. There are more differences but these should help you easily distinguish the two.
My elephant trekking experience was a positive one! If you are considering elephant trekking, be sure to research the elephant camps before visiting. Sadly, there are some camps that abuse the elephants. Thankfully, I didn’t witness any mistreatment of the elephants. They all looked healthy and were in good shape. We booked our tour with Siam Safari. They have great reviews! Siam Safari even provided transportation from our hotel to the camp and returned us once it was over.
Here are pictures from my experience elephant trekking in Phuket, Thailand! 🙂
All images are copyright protected. © Phylicia Munn