After an amazing day interacting with the elephants at Elephant Hills, we set off for the Elephant Hills tented camp in the rainforest after breakfast. On the way, we stopped off at a small local market in case anyone wanted to buy snacks for camp. I love visiting markets but you have to be prepared. While piles of fruits and vegetables are always there, raw meat on tables (and the associated smells) is often just one wrong turn away. Thankfully, we beat a hasty retreat from that part of the market and stumbled upon what would become one of our favorite treats….rice pancakes filled with coconut (top left in the picture below). They are made fresh right in front of you, then put in a bag on a piece of banana leaf. Large sugar crystals are sprinkled on top. They were so good, we went back for seconds. Easy to do when they were only 10 Baht (around 30 cents).
Next stop…Rajjaprabha Dam that makes Cheow Lan Lake possible. The lake was made when the Thailand built the dam for power generation. It was awesome to see the lake from this vantage point. The lake is located inside Khao Sok National Park. The only way to stay within the park is at one of the 17 floating tent camps on the lake.
Dewey and Evan had to show me their awesome super hero poses in front of the dam. Crazy boys!
Next we headed down to the dock to board a long tail boat for a tour of Cheow Lan lake and to get to our floating tent camp. While I loved the Elephant camp, the Rainforest Camp is where you really get to know your fellow tour mates. We made great friends with a couple from Britain and a couple from Australia along the way.
Our tour gave us an idea of how vast Cheow Lan Lake is, though after looking at a map, we only saw a teeny piece of it. Towering limestone karst make the landscape surrounding the lake a thing of beauty that you don’t often experience.
After about an hour and a half, we turned the corner and our camp came into sight.
Talk about an amazing view! That moment was when I started regretting that we were only staying at the rainforest camp for one night. Each tent is has a queen size bed and a bathroom just like the Elephant Camp only a tad smaller. One difference, though, is that the Rainforest Camp runs totally on solar power and there is no Wifi or cell service there. Our guide mentioned that they have to get older people to work at the camp because they are the only ones that can live without updating Facebook. Wifi is the only convenience lacking, though, there’s a bar, hot showers and the same tasty food we got used to at the Elephant camp.
Each tent also has its own kayak. The forests around the camp are teaming with monkeys and gibbons that are just a paddle away. Evan decided he wanted to try kayaking on his own. Dewey told him not to go to the right because that was the way the wind was blowing. He didn’t really listen so he quickly ended up too far away. He yelled back at me “Mama! Are their sharks in this water?” I told him no and he hopped out of the boat and started swimming back to us, pulling the kayak. Such a crazy kid!
After arrival and lunch, we could either join our guide, Chart, on what he called an “easy jungle trek” or stay behind to swim and kayak. I chose to go on the trek while Dewey and Evan stayed behind to kayak.
Our easy jungle trek started after a 30 minute boat ride and included a quick jaunt up a mountain. To say the least, I am not in good enough shape to say it was easy but I did, in fact, survive. At the end of our hike, we also got to explore a cave full of bats, spiders and snakes. It was very cool. I’ve read other reviews of cave exploration that included having to swim to get inside. We did not have to do that (thankfully) as there were really big spiders in there!
After a very busy day, I was happy to head back to camp for a few cold beers and a great night’s sleep. Sunset on the lake was something not to be missed.
The next morning, we had our last breakfast in paradise (well this part of paradise anyway). We boarded our canoes and set off to see if we could find some of the families of monkeys and gibbons that inhabit the area. Paddling along in the jungle is quit the experience. We “saw” a python up in a tree (I use quotations because I never did see that thing!), some snail eggs and a few other cook things but where were the monkeys. And then….they were everywhere! It was amazing. Pretty much impossible to capture on film with my waterproof camera (especially when your child erases them because it is “his camera”) but it was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We got to experience a huge troupe of pigtail macaques going about their daily life. There were probably 30 members from large males all the way to teeny tiny babies.
When we visit Thailand again, we will definitely make Elephant Hills part of our travel plans. It was one of the most magical parts of our trip for sure.
And our kayak will be waiting.