Rainforest Eco Camp -Khao Sok, Thailand

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Rainforest Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

I was invited in October 2011 to visit this amazing eco retreat as part of an educational trip to study eco based retreats and resorts; I also visited Elephant Hills as part of this trip. See Elephant Hills post.

The Rainforest Camp, one of the only floating tented camps in the world is surrounded by the jungles and towering Limestone Mountains of Khao Sok National Park. The plants and animals resident in the flooded forest still thrive in the dense jungles and towering mountains that surround the lake. Species include numerous monkeys, elephants, water buffalos, bears and countless plants including the world’s largest flower species the Rafflesia which can measure almost a meter across.

Following on from our stay at the Elephant Hills Camp we arrive at Cheow Larn Lake, a Hydro lake operated by the Thai Government. Here we board a traditional Long Boat which takes us for a pleasurable 1 hour ride to the far reaches of this huge, 185 Square kilometres, and deep, an average of 90 metres, lake.

10 Luxury Safari Tents with en-suite bathrooms provide an intimate base for us to explore southern Thailand’s tropical rainforest. Powered purely by both Solar and Wind energy and using unique waste management systems, Black Water Recycling, our stay at the Rainforest Camp will leave no negative impact on the surrounding forest. Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp is designed to be as responsible as possible, allowing you to be at one with nature. This has to be the most unique and responsible way to experience the true beauty of Southern Thailand’s endangered rainforest habitat!

On arrival we were greeted by the local camp manager and our guide who was to be with us for the next couple of days. We dropped our gear and quickly took one of the many kayaks to paddle through klongs and channels in search of monkeys and birds, we were lucky enough to see a flock of the rare Horn Bill birds which are known for inhabiting this area but rarely seen.

Once back to the camp we relax from the front of our tent and watch the sun set over the jungle, followed by a swim in the emerald waters of Cheow Larn Lake. The evening meal is a combination of fish, fresh from the lake, local salads and vegetables and a few refreshing cold beers.

Day two we raise to a stunning sun rise and hearty breakfast, in readiness for a half day trek in a part of the National Park. Here we climb up, very steeply, through the dense jungle on a narrow track, seeking out wild hogs, butterflies, birds and gibbons, and it’s HOT.

Almost at the top of the mountain our guide takes us into a deep, and cool, cave where, from a safe distance we encounter a number of snakes, an amazing experience if somewhat frightful.

Our decent is steep and slippery through the lush jungle but we finally make it to a deep blue lagoon where a Long Boat is awaiting to return us to the camp to collect our gear and have a final refreshing swim.

As we speed across the lake we can see many monkeys and bird life scattered across the high cliffs and low grass banks of the lake. The journey ends with a boat ride back to Cheow Larn Lake port where we head off to Khao Lak with many great learning’s about these fantastic and unique eco retreats.

See Elephant Hills post for more information and follow Flickr link to see photos.

http://www.rainforestcamp.com

http://www.youtube.com/user/ElephantHills

Elephant Hills Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

20120110-134446.jpg

Elephant Hills Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Hills is Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camp combining the camp ideas of African national parks with the Thai tropical forest environment.

I was invited in October 2011 to visit this amazing eco retreat as part of an educational trip to study eco based retreats and resorts.

Elephant Hills 30 luxurious tents are tailor-made and set in the largest area of protected rainforest in Southern Thailand. Each tent features twin beds, fan, kettle, and a luxurious bathroom with toilet and hot/cold shower. The tents provide ample space and are well protected against mosquitoes and other possible intruders. The furniture is handmade by local skilled craftsmen using natural materials and provides all the comfort you would normally find in a hotel room. There are enough lights to read by and fill your diaries with the day’s observations and importantly power to recharge your iPad and Camera.

At the centre of the camp is the semi-open air, main camp housing the restaurant. This serves as the place to meet other guests, dine and relax. It also has a number of information boards which give guests an in-depth understanding of the local area, wildlife and history.

The forest is filled with animals and plants, some of them can only be found in this environment. Two nights and three days at Elephant Hills is a unique experience; the temperatures drop, campfires create a romantic and warm atmosphere in which to share travel tales and the rainforest and its inhabitants form an exciting concert that accompanies visitors through the night.

Upon arrival the camp manager personally guided us around the camp and explained the main features, the next few days’ activities and helped all guests get settled in.

Fantastic traditional Thai fare was on offer for the evening, served at a communal table this enabled all guests to get know one another and chat about the retreat and how we came to be there. Some had been travelling around Asia, a couple caught the train from Bangkok and I transferred from Kamala where I had visited an area devastated by the Tsunami a number of years ago.

In the morning we awoke to the different noises of the forest; the jungle wakes up whilst the hills surrounding the camp are still covered in mist. Once the mist disappears, the lush greenery of the tropical rainforest stunningly lights the day and it is possible to take in the magnificent views of the surrounding rainforest covered mountains.

With a guide we kayak down river for approx 1 hour slowly and quietly drifting past local villages, farms and stunning landscape, and in the distance the Elephant Hills which rise above the rainforest.

We arrived at a historical local cave where we left our canoe guides and walked through to an area where a jeep was waiting to transport us to the Elephant Hills Elephant Reserve.

Here we spend the day assisting the local handlers to feed and wash the Elephants, prepare various foods and maintain extensive vegetable gardens.

Upon return to the camp we took a dip in the pool which rests at the base of the Limestone Mountains.

Dinner that evening included a cooking lesson in traditional jungle curries and a dance performance by children from a local school which is part of Elephant Hills Corporate Social Responsibility charter, the school directly benefits form a portion of profits from the camp and any donations guests make.

On our last day here we are transfer to the Elephant Hills other camp the Rainforest Camp, one of the only floating tented camps in the world, situated on one of Thailand’s most spectacular rainforest lakes.

See Rainforest Camp post for more information and follow Flickr link to see photos.

www.elephant-hills.com
http://www.facebook.com/ElephantHills