Whitewater Rafting & Elephant Trekking

Three-in-one Nature Tour in Phang Nga

We encourage you not to do elephant trekking but consider one of the new sanctuaries for elephants in Phuket

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Back at headquarters, all the groups meet up for our trip downstream. The peak tourist season is also the peak dry season, and faced with a river full of too-dry boulders, it’s hard to imagine anything larger than a leaf being able to float these waters.

Luckily, the tin mining operations of the past left reservoirs; open the dam and the river shows a different side. The helmets, life vests, and thorough (while funny) safety briefing are starting to make sense. “If you fall in the water, remain calm and raise your hand like this.”

Each raft shuttles four passengers and two guides down the river. Today’s flotilla consists of at least 10 dinghies. Nobody stays dry for long. When the rapids come, all oars get to work. During the monsoons, every set of rapids is a chance to be thrown into the water. The dry season removes their fangs, but they’re a rush nonetheless. Forty-five minutes later the guides are heaving the rafts into the back of trailer and we’re being shuttled back to camp. It’s time to eat.

The massive teakwood picnic tables are already set when we return. With a salad bar for starters, loads of tasty Thai food – soup, omelettes, cashew nut chicken, deep-fried fish, vegetables, rice – as the main course, and a bounty of fresh pineapple and watermelon for dessert, nobody leaves hungry. The staff is attentive and quick to supply chillies or refill the rice bowl.

Refueled and rested, six of us pile in the back of a truck for the five-minute drive, followed by a five-minute mini-hike, to the waterfall. The water is cold and invigorating and guests wade in the shallow pool, stand under nature’s shower like actors in a shampoo commercial, and cheer the guide who executes a back flip into the water from the cliff above.

Just like a stroll through Old Phuket Town, this trip offers a glimpse of Thailand that can’t be purchased in glossy postcard form. In distance, it’s not too far away. But in experience, it’s a whole new world.

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