On our last full day together, a group of 10 of us had booked an Elephant Trekking trip through Siam Safari on the island. Let me just say that I was not going to do this at the start of the trip. I had my doubts about how the animals would be treated, they're kept in captivity, etc. After reading the brochure, I felt better about choosing this company...and, after doing the trip, I really feel ok with it. Many of the elephants that are in the camp were used for logging in Thailand up until 1989...so when the use of them was outlawed, many of the elephants had no where to go and some of the companies just turned them loose onto the streets. Not so good....so, Siam Safari is all about the treatment of animals, conservation and protecting the elephants that had previously been used for labor.
We did a 45 minute ride (really, we could have done the 30 minute and been fine) which also included some time with the baby elephants before hand. The babies are awesome. We got a chance to interact and touch them for a little bit prior to going onto the ride. At least one of them really knew there was food around and was dancing until someone gave her some watermelon. Kind of funny. The company, of course, sold baskets of fruit for 50 baht so you could feed the elephants. And, elephant paintings for about 500 baht...anything to make some money!
But, the experience was really cool. I saw that, at least the guys guiding the elephants, didn't try to control them excessively. They let them wander a bit and munch on food on the go (fast food!). So, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.