Thailand seems almost synonymous with elephants. Everywhere I went in Phuket, there were t-shirts with elephants on them, baby elephants to feed, and opportunities to ride elephants. It is their national animal. So, while in Thailand…
There are several outfits in Phuket that offer half-hour elephant rides just off the road, but I opted for a 3-hour bus ride to an elephant camp in Khao Sok for an hour-long elephant trek through the jungle. What an awesome sight to behold; a caravan of elephants marching through a Thailand jungle. It was definitely a unique experience, but also uncomfortable. The elephant’s gait rocked me in my seat and I got a bruise along my back where the metal rod hit me with every step.
My guide, who rode on the elephant’s head, invited me to ride on the elephant’s neck, but it seemed too precarious to me. I opted to stay in my little metal carriage seat on the elephant’s back as he lumbered along the trail. What’s a little pain when you can experience something like this? It was a “pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this” experience.
The guides seem very attached to their elephants, and know their individual personalities. At the midway point, they had us get off our elephants on a platform in the jungle where they used buckets of water to wet down the elephants before we turned around and headed back. We meandered through a creek and down the trail before arriving back at the paddock where we’d begun. Here we had the opportunity to feed the elephants fruit and vegetables. Then the guides lead the elephants away for a more thorough rub down.
The bruise on my back disappeared in a week, but the memories of this experience will last my whole lifetime.
Is riding an elephant on your bucket list?