The Karen Tribe: Elephant Handlers of Thailand
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This is a private tour. This trip combines trekking with an elephant experience and a gentle bamboo raft trip on the Wang River. We will also stop at a waterfall. You will learn about the Karen people who are the traditional elephant handlers of Northern Thailand. You will spend the night in a homestay.
Comfortable private transportation
Good Elephant Experience
Karen Tribal Culture
Overnight in a wonderful homestay
The Karen Tribe: Elephant Handlers of Thailand
Day 1: Chiang Mai – Karen Village
Meet the elephants
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your two day trip to the Karen tribe. Our first stop will be at a typical Northern Thai local market where your guide will do his shopping for the coming days. He will explain some of the local specialities that are for sale here. Drive to Mae Wang and onwards to Mae Sapok. This trip takes place in the Mae Wang area.
Here we will visit the Elephant Paradise Camp, one of the many camps in this area. We selected this camp because we like it. You will join a half-day elephant activity, which is not private. Your program today includes preparing a treat for these majestic animals. You will also feed them your self-made delicacy.
Change to a typical Thai farmer’s dress and join them in their favourite activity which is playing in the water. There are plenty of photo opportunities. You will learn about the Asian elephant, an animal which is unfortunately threatened with extinction. We will enjoy lunch in the camp after our elephant experience.
A gentle trek to the Karen village
After lunch, it is only a short drive to the starting point of the trek. This afternoon we will walk mostly uphill. We will follow a lovely mountain trail along a sparkling stream with crystal clear water until we reach a camp beside a waterfall. Here we will stay for a while, enjoying a swim in the refreshing pool. After this, we will trek further up the mountain to a first Karen village. Here we will stop for a chat and say hello to the many pigs. Then we are set for the final stage to the Karen village where we will spend the night.
After arrival in the Karen village where we will spend the night, your guide will introduce you to your host. You can explore the village while he starts to prepare dinner. You are welcome to help him with cooking. We also encourage you to practice some Karen language with your host after dinner.
Overnight will be in a local house.
Day 2: Karen Village – Chiang Mai
Trekking and Royal Project
Rise with the roosters. Your guide will prepare a hearty breakfast. After breakfast, we will start our trek back. Before that, we will visit the Royal Project of the village. Your guide will explain about this exciting agricultural project. The late King Bhumibol has initiated the Royal Projects to improve the life of the tribal people of Thailand.
Then we will descend from the mountains to the lowlands. We pass rice fields and trek through beautiful dipterocarp forest before we reach a pretty waterfall where we will spend some time relaxing, swimming and enjoying the natural surroundings. After a short walk, we will see our van parked along the road. We will drive to a private house where we will have lunch.
Bamboo rafting on the Wang River
After lunch, we will drive the short distance to a small rafting camp. Our bamboo rafts will be waiting for us. Enjoy a relaxing and, at times, exciting bamboo raft trip for about 45 minutes on the Wang River. It is a safe activity. We will supply life jackets, but the river is not very deep.
The Wang River ends up in the Ping River. In the days when the roads were of poor quality rivers were a primary means of transportation. Local people used bamboo rafts to transfer people and goods this way. After this, we board our van for the drive back to Chiang Mai. On the road again we will stop at a beautiful market before we drop you off at your hotel or guesthouse.
- English Speaking guide
- Transportation by A/C vehicle
- Accommodation in a local house
- Meals: two lunches, one breakfast and one dinner
- Drinking water during meals
- Half day Elephant Experience
- Bamboo rafting (about 45 minutes)
- Limited medical insurance
- Other drinks except drinking water during meals
- Personal expenses
- Short sleeve shirts for the day time (bring a spare one, just in case)
- Long sleeves for the evening (especially in the winter Nov – Feb it can be a bit cold)
- Shoes with good grip (especially in the raining season from May – Sep)
- A cap
- Flip flops
- Your personal toiletries
- Personal medication
- Fully charged batteries or even an extra battery for your camera.
- 1000-1500 Thai Baht per person in small (not bigger than 500 Thai Baht and plenty of 100 Thai Baht notes). This is for souvenirs, drinks and tips.
In Huay Khao Lip you will stay overnight in one of these two houses: the Karen homestay of Supot and Nongjao or the homestay of Sawat and Poh.
We have been working for a long time with Supot and Nongjao. They have two children: a daughter and a son. Supot (47) is from Mae Chaem and Nongjao (39) was born in Huay Khao Lip. Their homestay has a great view over rice terraces.
Karen couple Sawat and Poh are old friends of Green Trails. They both were born in Huay Khao Lip. They have two sons. Sawat is 37. Poh is 35. Their homestay is spacious and has a great view on the nearby Royal Project.