Elephant Trek and Elephant Bathing + Tiger cave and Khanab Nam
This camp is right on the edge of the Phanom Bencha Nation Park. It's a beautiful shady places for the elephants and the trek itself follows a path around the edge of the National Park with spectacular scenery. Its a 40 minute drive from Aonang but really worth the trip.
The camp is set next to a small river where the elephants take their bath twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening after their work is done for the day. Of all the elephant camps in Krabi, we believe that this the best maintained, well staffed and friendly. Its nothing like the "Factory" experience you would find in many.
It is a minimum half day trip though. If you are more pressed for time, we also offer a 1 hour trek at a camp closer to Aonang, its also a great place, but for a real hands on experience, this one is hard to beat :)
The elephants were originally employed for forestry work but as more and more of the countryside has been turned into rubber and palm plantation, which is a highly mechanized industry, there is less and less forestry work that requires elephants and so, the local families joined together to form a cooperative offering treks to the growing tourist industry.
There are 4 female elephants: Sii Nuan, Boon Ma, Som Porn and Sai Nui, and one male called Saen Jan and all are registered with the Asian Elephant Federation, they are tagged and visited twice a year for a check up and vaccinations. The elephants are native Krabi elephants owned by local families and are about 40 years old, middle age for an elephant. The mahoots (trainers/drivers) have known them since they were young and there is a real bond between them. There is also a new arrival, Bencha, a five year old baby elephant. She was born at the camp to her mother Sii Nuan and spent her first few years with the owner but has now come to the camp. She's very cute and now takes over most of the elephant bathing sessions (when she's in the mood), from the older elephants, sometimes on the last session of the day she might be joined by one of the older girls She seems to love the bathing part and really enjoys having her back scrubbed really hard.
The life really is quite idyllic for an elephant, they are well fed, well loved by their owners and have a very nice shady place for sleeping and resting. They work about 4 hours a day and every few weeks are given a week off.
Please be aware though, that elephants have real personalities and on some days will feel more playful than others. Some days they will just lie back and enjoy a backscrub and on others will get more involved and give you a trunk shower.
We were a bit concerned when we first heard about Bencha working at the camp as you do hear some stories about babies being taken away from their mothers at a young age and the training methods, so, we went to visit the camp and they do seem to genuinely have her best interest at heart and be doing the best job they can.
The trek takes about 50 minutes, a serene ride through the countryside, passing along a stream, though rubber and palm and fruit plantations and some of the real natural forest that surrounds the camp. Total distance is about 2km with plenty of time for the elephants to enjoy a bit of a snack along the way, elephants need to eat about 250kg of food every day so there really is no time to waste!
Riding an elephant through the jungle is really the best way to see the countryside, they are perfectly quiet so you move along without disturbing the nature and can really appreciate the sounds of the countryside, insects and birds put on quite an orchestral performance. Being high up also gives a great viewpoint to get a glimpse of the countryside all around.
The bathing trip is three times a day with two morning sessions (pickup pat 08:30am and 10:30am and an afternoon session with a pickup at 1:30pm. First, the seat platforms are removed followed by the dozen or so thick carpets that protect their bodies. Then, it's off to the river for a well earned cooling splash.
Bencha the baby takes the bathing part on many days, it gives her something to keep her entertained and she does seem to enjoy it.
The river is flowing with water from the Phanom Bencha mountains so, the water is cool and refreshing, the water level depends on the season, but there's usually enough for the elephants to lie down and be about half covered. Each of the elephants has a different personality, some are more playful, some a bit impatient, some a bit shy about being bathed by a bunch of complete strangers. Sompen though, seems to love every moment. She'll let anyone give her a scrub, sit on her back and will even join in the fun with a bit of a spray from her trunk.
It's such an unusual thing to be this close to an elephant. You have plenty of time to get really close and personal, you can see how beautiful their eyes are and really appreciate the character of their faces. The staff are more than happy to take some photos for you, guaranteeing that you'll get some really special pictures.
It's a truly amazing experience to get in the water and be so close up to an these incredible animals.
When being so close to such a large animal its always best to treat them with the respect they deserve, and follow the instructions from the guides and mahoots. When bathing with Bencha, her trainer will be by her side in the water at all times.
Tiger Cave Temple
Tiger Cave Temple is on the way to the elephant Camp closer to Krabi. The temple is famous for its Buddha set up high above the surrounding countryside that can be reached by 1237 steep steps. The view from the top is truly spectacular. At ground level there are natural caves going right into the heart of the mountain.
The temple is quite a complex of buildings with a complete variety of architecture with the latest being a multi story Chinese influenced Pagoda type of design.
The Temple itself is considered the most important in the Province and one of the most important in the
Whole of Thailand.
Krabi River and Kanab Nam Caves
Reached by traditional longtail boat, Kanab Nam Caves with their distinctive shape are well worth a visit.
After boarding the longtail it's about a fifteen minute ride up the River inland through the mangrove forests and even passing by one of the floating gypsy villages.
Phanom Bencha Waterfall.
Just a short distance from the Elephant Camp is the Huey Tho Waterfall inside the Phanom Bench National Park. Its about a 15 minute walk from the car park up to the waterfall, most of it is very good, easy walking, but the last hundred meters or so involves a bit of scrambling over rocks.
It depends on the time of year as to how impressive the waterfall is, during rainy season, its pretty big, a full 4 tier waterfall, with a pool at each level. At low season it's a bit more of a trickle.
The actual National Park though is really beautiful, real Krabi as it always has been and, needs to be seen to be truly appreciated, just the sounds make it worthwhile.
|Elephant Trek and Bathing with Elephant||
|Elephant Trek and Waterfall (Half Day)||
|Elephant Trek Tiger Cave and Khanab Nam Longtail (Full Day)||
All trips include Hotel Pickup and Return, Insurance, drinking water, Seasonal Fruit
Full day trip includes a Thai set menu lunch at a local restaurant.
*** Please note that this trip has a limited availability and does often get booked up several days in advance. Its best to book a week in advance to avoid disappointment.
*** Child Rate is for children 3-10 years Old
If you have a larger group of 12 or more, then it is possible to arrange a custom trip at all times of day including the elephant trek and the bathing with the elephants. Please contact us for availability and pricing. This option may not be possible during high season (December to May)
What to Bring
Sensible shoes (like sport shoes)
Swimming gear or spare clothes if bathing the elephants. It is fine to use swimming clothes while bathing the elephants but please cover up in all public areas.
Half Day Elephant Trek and Elephant Bath
08:30am - 12:00 and 10:30am - 1:30pm (Morning) hotel pickup and return (approx. 40 minute journey each way)
Elephant Bathing - in the river with the elephant
11:30am Return to Hotel
1:30pm (Afternoon) hotel pickup and return (approx. 40 minute journey each way)
Elephant Bathing - in the river with the elephant
5:30pm Return to Hotel
Just let us know which session you would prefer
Full Day - Elephant Trek, Tiger Cave Temple and Khanab Nam by Longtail Boat
08:30am - 4:00pm
(Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
hotel pickup and return (approx. 40 minute journey each way),
All National Park fees,
Half Day - Elephant Trek and Waterfall
hotel pickup and return,
All National Park fees,