As we announced a couple of months earlier, Elephant Hills has once again been awarded the PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Grand Award in the category of Environment. We were absolutely thrilled to receive the prestigious PATA award for the third year in a row. In 2017 we received the Gold Award and in 2018 we took it up a notch and attained the Grand Award. Moreover, the fact that all these awards were achieved within the Environment category makes us extra proud!
With this post, we invite you to join us, virtually, on our trip to Kazakhstan to pick up our PATA Grand Award 2019. Find out more about our sustainability efforts here.
Elephant Hills visits Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
Our Elephant Hills team was excited to learn that this year’s PATA award ceremony was going to take place in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. We prepared for chilly autumn weather with cold winds blowing from the vast steppe, only to find ourselves in the middle of a sudden heatwave with day-time temperatures reaching up to 25 degrees Celsius. The locals really enjoyed this unusual summery weather. However, we were told that despite the current warm period, it will most likely snow in just a couple of weeks’ time!
PATA Gold Awards Dinner and Award Presentation 2019
This is the 24th consecutive year of the prestigious PATA Gold Awards. The spectacular event was arranged in Kazakhstan for the first time and took place at Nur-Sultan’s modern Congress Center. All arrangements run smoothly, and the venue was impressive. This year’s awards attracted 197 entries from 78 organizations and individuals worldwide. As always, the winners were selected by an independent judging committee.
The PATA Grand Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four categories: Marketing; Education and Training; Environment, and Heritage and Culture. The four Grand Awards were handed out first, followed by the 29 Gold Awards. A video was also presented to introduce all winners, and it was a truly memorable moment to see our elephants appearing on a picture on the huge screen and to actually receive the Grand Award on the stage. We couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment!
Burabay National Park
Astounded by the fascinating nomadic history and culture of Kazakhstan, we made sure to have a couple of days to explore the city and surrounding areas. We drove north from Nur-Sultan, through the breath-taking steppe to visit Burabay National Park. The Kazakh steppe is the world’s largest dry steppe region, and it occupies a whopping one-third of the country. Getting closer to park, the scenery changed drastically from immense grassland plains to birch and later pine forests.
Our guide took us to see the traditional Kazakh yurts, tent-like dwellings that have been used by the nomadic people in Central Asia for over 3,000 years. We hiked up a mountain, as a matter of fact it started to turn into rock climbing closer to the top. As we made our way further up, the view over the lakes and mountains was simply astonishing, definitely worth the climb!
Exploring Nur-Sultan, the world’s youngest capital city
Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana), became the capital of Kazakhstan in 1997. It received its latest name as recently as March 2019, in honor of the long-ruling president Nursultan Nazarbayev. We were eager to explore the ultra-modern city packed with most unbelievably futuristic buildings. With our professional local guide, we started our walk through the millennial axis from the beautiful Presidential Palace. We continued to Baiterek Tower, from where we could see all the five monumental buildings that are part of the axis that stretches across both sides of Ishim river.
We also visited the futuristic shopping mall Khan Shatyr, National Museum, the biggest mosque in Central Asia, Atameken Ethno-Memorial Complex and a private museum with fascinating historical items. At the private museum we also enjoyed a nice, spontaneous performance by a local man playing the national instrument “dombra”. We were as blown away by the past legends and history, as we were by the current exceptional architecture and future plans within the Smart City initiative.
Bringing the award home to Khao Sok
Over the past years we have made several improvements on environment and sustainability here at Elephant Hills. We have for example completely stopped handing out and selling plastic water bottles, and instead provide stainless steel bottles and fill up stations for the guests to use during their stay. We have also stopped using plastic straws and replaced them with reusable stainless-steel straws, and planted thousands of trees.
All of these important steps are possible because of amazing co-operation both from our dedicated staff and our guests. Our guests have been very supportive and have fully understood our mission. Hence, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate this award and our efforts with our guests and the Elephant Hills team. This recognition will definitely further strive us to continue to constantly seek for ways to lower our impact on this wonderful planet of ours!
Our sincere thanks to PATA, our staff, guests and partners!
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