For a long time, we thought there were no ethical elephant tours in Khao Sok National Park. We recommended travellers to go to Chiang Mai and the Happy Elephant Home instead. But that was only until we found Khun Ake and his grand old and majestic male elephant, Khun Somboon. Keep on reading and find out how that went – and how you can now visit K Somboon and do an ethical elephant tour, too!
Say hi to Khun Somboon, to his caretaker Khun Ake and to his family
Khao Sok National Park is not only one of the oldest rainforests in the world, it’s also home to a massive amount of flora and fauna. If you’re extremely lucky you can still see wild elephants, but chances are that most travellers only see them in camps. In Go Beyond Asia we have strong values and beliefs within responsibility and sustainability. We do not support elephant riding and unethical behaviour when we and our travellers meet nature, culture and wildlife.
So, when we met Khun Ake, his lovely family and their old majestic elephant and family member, Khun Somboon, we were extremely happy. Our colleague Rikke spent a day with the grand old animal, and this is her story:
An ethical elephant experience in Khao Sok
“Once we left the main road in Khao Sok, and drove deeper into the jungle, it became quite clear, that this was not a place most tourists come across. Sonchana is a small local elephant farm – the owners; 2 brothers and their parents. Happy owners of Somboon, a beautiful 51-year-old retired elephant.
The oldest brother, Khun Aek greeted us and started telling us about elephants in Thailand in general and Somboon in particular. He told us about Somboon’s life and how, with support from the community, his family is able to give Somboon a good retirement, with all the care he needs.”
Give food to an elephant. A lot of food!
Preparing elephant food
“Elephants eat an enormous amount of food – up to 150 kgs! As part of our experience, we helped prepare Somboon’s breakfast of the day; imagine a creamy risotto made out of rice, pumpkin, banana and tinospora (a root with a lot of healing powers). All mixed and cooked over open fire. Then formed into small balls and placed at the end of the elephant trunk, and swup… in it goes!
Never a meal without dessert; 2 clusters of banana. Amazing to see how he could just keep going, and really enjoyed it.”
Could it be any better?
Swim with the majestic elephant – pure bliss
“A short walk to a little tranquil pond and we could swim and enjoy some time with this majestic animal. Somboon surely enjoyed the cooling water, and we didn’t complain either.
Before we left, Khun Aek asked me to plant a sugar cane. I could see that he really found pleasure in, that people from all over the world helping things to grow at his farm.”
Do you also want to experience elephants up close in Khao Sok? You can connect easily to Khao Sok from both Phuket, Khao Lak, or the islands. Or how about connecting easily from coast to coast?