On November 30th we had the privilege to cordially welcome Prince Kubrat of Bulgaria and his wife Princess Carla Royo Villanova, a Madrid native, together with the Spanish representatives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, two photographers and a radio journalist here at Elephant Hills.
The 3 days Jungle Lake Safari they embarked on was loaded with new experiences and unforgettable impressions. Our lovely and always smiling tour guide Bua warmly welcomed them at the airport and accompanied them on their very special jungle adventure into Khao Sok National Park.
After arriving at the Elephant Camp at noon time, they first of all got introduced into the Thai culinary cuisine and were delighted by the taste of the different dishes they were served while enjoying the incredibly stunning views on the limestone mountain cliffs behind the Elephant Hills restaurant.
After lunch, the group got close and personal with our 12 amazing elephants. Of course everyone (including the pachyderms) got excited when the Spanish group climbed out of the safari truck and discovered some free roaming elephants in the distance. Of course the distance was quickly overcome, and our elephant lady Mae Sri Nuan had to pose in front of the rainforest clad cliffs for a couple of royal photo snaps.
Mae Sri Nuan and her good friend Ngam Ta then went off to splash around in their giant elephant bath, covering themselves in mud and dirt all over. Both of them knew just too well what would follow next – a delightful scrub with coconut fibers from our Iberian volunteers, who were obviously extremely keen to polish even the very last of their wrinkles back to shiny grey again. Especially Kubrat took to Ngam Ta, whose name means “beautiful eye”, very quickly and very well, and one couldn’t be too sure if Carla’s glances at Ngam Ta were pure admiration or also mixed with a tiny little bit of jealousy…
But Kubrat assured her it was purely for the fun of finally meeting Asia’s largest land animal up close – if they would have had more time, he would have probably washed all the 12 of them.
Following the washing was feeding time. Not just for Mae Sri Nuan and Ngam Ta, but for the entire elephant family. That meant cutting plenty of pineapples, sugar cane and bananas, desperately trying to satisfy all those seemingly insatiable giants.
Everyone – including the stars of the show, our elephants – enjoyed a day full of joy and excitement, fun, unique experiences and breathtaking scenery, perfectly rounded up by relaxing evening activities, a cold beer at our Jungle Explorer’s Bar and a good night’s sleep in those luxurious tents.
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, the whole crew departed for Cheow Larn Lake, Southern Thailand’s largest fresh water reservoir. After about an hour ride staring out of the windows to catch some glimpses of local rural life, they reached the view point of the lake. They got entirely stunned by the beautiful landscape and the historical background of the artificial lake and the surrounding area.
While heading to Elephant Hills’ floating Rainforest Camp even a few drops of rain couldn’t dampen the high spirit and good mood – but then again, what could while you’re leisurely cruising in a traditional Thai longtail boat along the shores of the world’s oldest rainforest?
After lunch and check in into the floating tents, Kubrat was the only one to hike up the hills towards the hidden Porn Phet Cave, of course under Bua’s professional guidance. Attempting to break all records by completing the usually 3-hour hike in 100 minutes only, Bua had to work hard to keep pace with the sporty surgeon…
Meanwhile the rest of the group embarked on a first guided canoe safari into the channels and khlongs of Cheow Larn Lake – and got soaked to the very last inch of skin as heaven opened its doors, impressively demonstrating why a rainforest is so different from the Tabernas Desert…
However, as the temperature remained at a stable 27°C, everyone enjoyed their time out. Upon returning to the camp, a warm shower and a change of clothes, there was no one who did not dig into the mouthwatering culinary highlights that were served at 7pm. Only few more hours passed with cold beers and hearty laughs, before the relaxing jungle atmosphere prevailed and sent everyone to bed.
At 6:30am the next morning Carla, Kubrat and Gonzalo, one of the two photographers, rolled out of bed and right into their canoes already to enjoy the indescribable morning atmosphere on Cheow Larn Lake. As usual after a decent rainstorm the night before, the mirror like lake was calm, only the rising mist hinting at the downpour witnessed 8 hours ago. The sun slowly rose behind some several century old jungle giants, monkeys and apes alike came out in search for breakfast, the first eagles were hunting (yes, early birds do catch the fish!) and a Bengal monitor lizard was lazily hanging on a tree trunk, soaking up the first sunrays of the day.
Bushy-crested as well as wreathed hornbills flew overhead, and despite having experienced quite a lot in the past decades of their lives, everyone involved agreed that this was one of these moments you will treasure for life.
Returning to the camp for breakfast wasn’t easy with this incredible atmosphere having you feel entirely calm and totally at peace, but the freshly baked bacon, scrambled eggs right out of the pan along with toast, fresh fruit, cereals and pancakes somehow eased the fact that it had to be farewell…
A last photograph was taken, before returning back to the pier and on to the next destination. And tell me – can you see any hint at worry or sorrow in any of these faces?
Remark: The whole Elephant Hills herd & team thank the Spanish Tourism Authority of Thailand for organizing this trip and bringing Kubrat, Carla and the Spanish media to Elephant Hills. We are honored to have been chosen as one of the few selected properties that were visited during this trip, and are looking very forward to hosting any member of this trip again.
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