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Living & Leisure

WALKING WITH GIANTS

Living & Leisure January 23, 2020

Once-in-a-lifetime elephant experience

{by travel-expert José Berrocoso}

 

Connect with these gentle giants in their natural environment and discover Thailand’s intrinsic connection to these majestic creatures. Saunter through bamboo forest and view breathtaking landscapes from a unique perspective.

Unfolding across 160 acres of Northern Thailand’s ancient jungle, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is perched on a hill overlooking the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The secluded location is uniquely positioned to take in majestic views over the confluence of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar from your room or one of the most idyllic pools in all of Asia, and grazing elephants in the most stunning of natural settings.

The property is world famous for its elephant camp that, along with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), were set up primarily to help elephants that cannot help themselves. To date over 60 elephants have been rescued from Thailand’s city streets, of which 22 now live in the jungle environment of Anantara’s Elephant Camp.

The GTAEF regularly cooperates with the Thai government and other organizations in bigger picture projects. It has helped to fund research and clinics using elephants in therapy sessions for children living with autism. It equipped the first elephant hospital in Krabi with an all-terrain vehicle. It has also donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang with, among other things, a purpose-built elephant ambulance and a gantry to help lame elephants stand. The foundation also built the world’s only facility to scientifically research elephant intelligence and behaviour and runs the world’s only program to teach scientific Positive Reinforcement training methods to traditional mahouts. It costs approximately USD 18,000 to look after a single elephant for a year.

Here appropriate activities are designed that allow the elephant caretakers to raise the funds they need to look after the elephants without forcing them into activities they might not enjoy.

At Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort can participate in unique and once-in-a-lifetime elephant experiences: the Walking With Giants programme. Championing the natural joy of daily free-roaming time, accompanied by the mahouts and either a vet or biologist, the activity offers insights from scientific experts about how these intelligent creatures think and behave. Walking from the Elephant Camp out to the grasslands or forest, depending on the season, unveils river and wild nature scenery.

Falling in pace with the slow, steady rhythm, guests can observe the elephants’ social interaction in their native habitat. The fun of either a river bath or mud playtime demonstrates just how cheeky these graceful animals can be. Guests can help to prepare snacks for the elephants, as well as activities for their behavioural enrichment. Meandering back to the camp, the expert explains about elephant biology and behaviour, and also reveals fascinating facts and insights about the past, present and hopeful future for all of Thailand’s elephants.

The property has recently introduced the unique Jungle Bubble accommodation, set amidst roaming elephants in their natural habitat in a world first, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for guests to spend the night with these two-ton beauties.

Located in the jungle on the banks of the Ruak river, the two Jungle Bubbles are perched on raised wooden decks offering uninterrupted views of the elephants, as well as stargazing at night. The Jungle Bubbles were custom designed by Eye In The Sky and are constructed with high tech polyester fabric using exclusive Precontraint Serge Ferrari technology to create an milieu in which guests can enjoy an immersive, close-to-nature experience.

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