Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Thailand – Off Season Adventure

We decided to come to Thailand for my 13-year-old son’s school break. I had traveled to Thailand many times when I was young and was excited to see it again through my son Micah’s eyes. He had one request for our entire journey and it was to have an experience with elephant travel in Thailand. I started reading voraciously about ethical elephant travel in Thailand, a lot has changed since over thirty years ago, I trekked in Chaing Mai Thailand with elephants when they were still used for logging as well as for trekking. I came across a story about Anantara and their elephant camp and sanctuary and knew this was the perfect place to fulfill my son’s request.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Thailand

We knew we were in store for something special the minute we were picked up at the airport. We were whisked into a wonderfully cool waiting vehicle that was a welcoming contrast to the hot Thai summer day. Drinks and homemade Elephant cookies awaited in a little handmade picnic basket.  We pulled into the driveway at Anantara and immediately knew this was not your average boutique hotel. After the craziness of Bangkok, it was nice to feel a sense of calm wash over us.
We checked in and were served an aromatic lemongrass tea with a passionfruit mousse. We planned the activities for our trip and settled into our tastefully decorated spacious room with a massive sunken tub, private terrace, and a stocked fridge.

A beautiful spa was right next to our room and we made an appointment for a rice scrub and massage. The treatment transported us directly to Nirvana and we left blissed out smelling of Jasmine.  We dressed for dinner and sat outside overlooking the jungle. Dining at Anantara is a highlight. We loved sampling the local Thai dishes made with fresh local ingredients. I’ve made it a point to learn how to ask for spicy food in Thai and love swing the look of surprise on the staff’s faces as they see me eat it with gusto. The variety of flavors that emanated from each forkful was an experience of Thailand in every bite. After dinner, we stopped in at the Elephant Bar and Opium Terrace where a gin and tonic was the perfect nightcap.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Thailand

The next morning we awoke early and donned the clothing left for us in our room. Once we figured out how to wear the Signature Mahout outfit, we set off to meet the elephants and mahouts (elephant trainers). It was bath time and we were headed to the river. After a lesson on how to mount the elephants, we climbed on and sauntered down to the river to wade into the water. A sense of calm and tranquility overtakes you and the rhythm of the Elephant beats in harmony with your heart.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Thailand
After bathing, it was time for “Yum Yum”. My elephant Tong liked living on the edge and nibbling the grass from the very extremity of the high wall above the river. We made our way back to the hotel making a Royal entrance like the Kings and Queens of ancient times. The beautiful infinity pool was calling our name and we sipped drinks to stay cool, gazing at the landscape below with the elephants grazing in the distance. We watched as the elephants played with one another and even touched trunks, as if it was a kiss, there was something in the way they interacted with each other that seemed like an expression of love and joy in its purest form.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Thailand

After a delicious lunch, we chose the activity “Walking with Giants” where we circumnavigated the property from the Elephant Camp and learned more about the elephants and the efforts Anantara makes to protect and care for them while supporting the mahouts and their family and culture. Our guide Tao had spent many years working in animal rescue centers and was passionate about the work being done by Anantara. We met our elephant “Plume” who was one of the first elephants brought to the property, a real homegirl. We fed her sunflower seeds and got to know each other. Looking into her eyes was one of the most soulful forms of communication I’d ever experienced. The connection we felt being with her was quite profound. We walked, talked, took photos, and fed her bananas. It was was like spending time in the company of an old friend. As we finished our walk, she joined another elephant and the mahout sprayed her with a hose and she drank water which she sucked up with her trunk, drinking some and spraying herself with the rest. We made our way back to the hotel and bid our old friend goodbye, hoping to return to see Plume and the team at Anantara again soon.

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