Watch and Learn at Elephant Camp, Thailand
Develop an intimate knowledge of elephants under the tutelage of K Wie, elephant camp coordinator at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. Come in March 2010 for a three-night special Elephant Polo Package.
In a setting filled with the romantic spirit of 19th-century explorers, guests of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle are whisked away to another time and place. As they lounge in luxurious tents with handcrafted furniture, hardwood floors and traditional thatched roofs, intrepid travellers prepare to meet and befriend the Camp’s gentle giants: six Asian elephants rescued from the logging industry.
Bonding with Elephants
Welcome to the Elephant Camp, a unique adventure for travellers to Chiang Rai, Thailand. During their stay, guests receive traditional mahout training, which teaches them to care for and drive an elephant. Their teacher is the Elephant Camp Coordinator Taweesak Keereekaew, known at K Wie at the camp. Born and raised on a rice farm near Chiang Rai, Wie has an intimate knowledge of the landscape and the people of the area. After graduating from Chiang Rai Rajabhat University, he parlayed his love of English into a career as a tour guide. “I took tourists everywhere in the north of Thailand and the best place was the Elephant Camp in Chiang Rai,” Wie says. “I went there almost every week for about five years because of my job and learned a lot about Asian elephants.” When a job opened up at the Elephant Camp, he jumped at the chance. “When guests take a real interest in the beauty of the Golden Triangle and fall in love with our elephants that’s a great feeling,” he adds. “We are a small team here, but we are all great friends and I think that is noticed by the guests.”
So Wie’s days are now filled with care for the elephants, including a 7:00 am feeding of 15 babies, and training of guests in the traditional job of a mahout, or elephant handler. “It’s proper mahout training,” he says, “riding bareback, giving commands, feeding, bathing, learning all the rules.” In addition, he helps care for the 25 elephants rescued by the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which is supported by the camp and guests. And he continues his training by spending time among the Camp’s mahouts and attending elephant roundups throughout Thailand and Laos.
Elephant Polo, Anyone?
Though incredible encounters await guests no matter when they visit the Elephant Camp, March is an especially exciting time as Chiang Rai hosts the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, one of several played throughout the region. Attracting teams of devoted sportsmen, the tournament is quite a spectacle, and the Camp is joining in the festivities with a special Elephant Polo Package throughout the month of March 2010. The three-night package includes round-trip private air travel to the Tented Camp, all meals and beverages, one Spa treatment per person per stay, and a full programme of elephant-inspired activities. Guests will even get the chance to try their skill at elephant polo—the Game of Kings—if they dare. And those staying during the tournament itself, which takes place the week of March 15, will have the opportunity to partake of the pageantry of the event, including the elephant parade and blessing ceremony; sensational matches—Four Seasons fields a team consisting of staff and guests—and the entertaining final game and awards ceremony.
It’s an occasion to experience a Thailand—the mystery, the beauty and the celebration—that many never see.