The Four Seasons Golden Triangle Tented Camp first hit my radar a few years ago when it was named the number one hotel in the world, two years in a row by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. But what elevated this resort to my “Trip of a Lifetime Bucket List”, was their elephant refuge!
If you’ve ever dreamed of the ultimate elephant interaction, this is a DO NOT miss experience! My daughter Kaya and I had the unbelievable opportunity to spend almost a full day feeding, bathing, and learning to communicate with these gorgeous giants. We were then able to ride them through their beautiful, lush, jungle habitat and into the great Mekong River for more playtime.
The entire elephant adventure is guided by the resort’s experienced Mahout (elephant trainers) team. This is truly one of only a couple of places in the world where you can have this level of interactive experience riding elephants. There are plenty of places all over Thailand and in the world where you can climb into a wonky saddle and be lead around on an elephant like a kid at the county fair. But this is an all together different opportunity to guide them while learning to ride on their neck right behind their ears like a professional “Mahout”.
That first morning, we were picked up from our tent in a refurbished Indiana Jones-like Jeep for a short, shuttled ride to breakfast. As we waited for our delicious order to arrive, we were greeted by the indescribable first encounter with the stars of the resort!! The elephants are brought right up to the restaurant steps, looking to be fed what looks like a car’s weight in bananas by the resort guests. Unbelievable! Breakfasting with big, beautiful beasts!
Each elephant has its own distinct personality, from curious and sweet, to mischievous. Matter of fact, it’s quickly unclear who is supposed to be bathing who!
Top Trip Tips:
- The best time to travel in Thailand is between November and February during the dry season when the weather is most temperate.
- Go for the extra expense and hire a professional photographer through the Four Seasons Tented Camp concierge. It’s worth its weight in gold to not have to worry about dragging around a camera or fumbling with your cell phone. Plus you have someone the ground to take video of the experience. You don’t want to come this far and not walk away with spectacular shots; all with the comfort of knowing it’s someone else’s responsibility to get them!
- You will in no way, shape or form need heels here! They could cost you an ankle!
I’m a self-admitted luxury travel addict, and I have to say, I was blown away by this entire experience!! I wish photos or videos could do it justice, but the real takeaway is the feeling- the pinch yourself magic when you realize that life can actually be this radiant and beautiful, beyond what words or photos can portray. And the overwhelming reverence of solidly living and being in the moment with no other distraction is a gift.
Whether it’s the kid in you that always dreamed of joining the circus to just ride the elephants, or the grown-up in you that’s decided to give your kid the opportunity, I promise you, this will be one of the top trips ( if not THE TOP trip!) of your life!