We arrived at BMP Residence, our Guesthouse in Chiang Mai around 4pm after another 5 hour bus journey from Sukhothai. After checking in we were informed that we had to stick around at the hotel until 6pm as there was a meeting about our Jungle expedition so we grabbed a table and some food at the restaurant area and waited for the meeting to start.
At the meeting we met everyone we would be going on the trek with aswell as our guide and learnt a few things about what was in store for us over the next few days. Since booking the trek in Bangkok we had no idea what was involved apart from that it was 3 days and two nights! A little worried about our fitness levels we packed the smallest bags possible (well I did, Steve unfortunately had the job of carrying all the electronics since we were not informed about the lockers on the other side of the hostel!) and got an early-ish night in preparation for the next few days.
After checking out we grabbed a quick breakfast and then were loaded onto the buses in two separate groups to start our journey. The drive was a good couple of hours with a stop off at a local market which conveniently stocked everything necessary for the trip including towels, toilet roll and flash lights etc……hmm how convenient.
We were really excited about the next few days after meeting the rest of the party we knew we were gonna have a really good time!When we arrived at our destination we immediately started our trek. We had previously been informed that it would only be an hour or so and then we would be stopping by a waterfall for lunch. This first hour was not so bad and by the time we reached the waterfall we were still managing to breathe at a normal pace, so we started to relax a bit telling ourselves and each other “this is easier than I thought”.
For lunch – a small parcel of vegetable rice wrapped up in a banana leaf. It was delicious.
After we finished eating we were getting a bit fidgety as we wanted to carry on our trek and see what the Jungle had to offer but our guides were no where in sight! We sat around for a good hour or so waiting until they reappeared and hurried us off as if they had been waiting for us for ages!
We began trekking again and this lasted maybe a couple of hours. We had been told by Suze and Dan, an English couple that we had met in Ayutthaya that the first day is the easiest and the second day gets harder, but during this 2 hour stint, I realised that this maybe wasn’t as easy as I had first thought and through serious sweating and panting Steve literally had to push me up the last few metres as my legs had stopped functioning! Luckily, our next destination was another waterfall where we had another hour or so to get in the water and cool off from the mornings activities….. the water was absolutely freezing but definitely what we all needed
After the waterfall we had a further one hour trek to our camp for the evening. We split back up into our two groups and were introduced to our accommodation and the families of those we were staying with. There were 9 people in our group and we were all staying in one huge room with two people sharing one mosquito net so we grabbed our beds and set them up, covered ourselves in
mosquito repellent and got into our long trousers and long-sleeved tops (as advised by our guides) and headed back out to see what was next.At this point it was only 5pm and since there would be no more trekking we weren’t really sure what the plan was. After a little bit of banter and talking over Pon, our guide (it seems he didn’t find it funny), he walked off and left us not knowing what the plan was for the rest of the night.
There was a house being built behind us so we helped out, I say we, two of the American guys, Sean and Justin helped carry metal for the roof from a nearby village, the rest of us……..watched. There were lots of children around as well and we were hanging out with them, watching in awe as these little kids couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 and they were doing pull ups and spinning jumping kicks and all sorts….we tried our best to keep up, they were great fun!
We spent the evening amongst candlelight with additional flash lights hung from the roof, playing Uno, drinking and chatting and watching the amazing stars above us. Unfortunately a couple of the guys, Brandon and Daniele were unwell and so didn’t get to join in : (
After a restless night to say the least we were up early, had a hearty breakfast and after more waiting around we set off to meet the other group and continue our trek through the jungle.
A little fearful that I may not make it through the day since it was supposed to be harder than the first day, I mentally prepared myself……failure is not an option!
The second day I was armed with a Bamboo walking stick to help me with the difficult trek! We were offered the option of the long trek which would take 2 and a half hours or the short trek that would take half an hour. Daniele and Brandon were still unwell so opted for the shortcut, I really really wanted to join them but pushed myself to do the long trek and im glad I did because after 20 mins uphill the rest was either what our guides deemed as ‘Jungle Flat’ or downhill so it was actually pretty easy. Everybody seemed to be sprinting through though and me and Marianne decided to just go at our own pace at the back so that we could actually admire the jungle that we were walking through.
We ate lunch and spent an hour or more at another waterfall before another two-hour trek to our home for the evening. Apart from trekking up to what we were told was the ‘highest peak in Thailand’ most of the trek was downhill which in places was actually harder than going uphill!
We were all staying together the second night (17 of us) in a small Karen village with a big hut in the middle as well as lots of smaller huts around the edge, with the same ‘bathroom’ facilities as the previous night. We opted for our own hut on the second night and in Steve’s opinion even though we were surrounded by mosquitoes and thousands of ants the mosquito net made it ‘romantic’.
We had a quick bath in the waterfall got back into our traveller pants and looked forward to the delicious meal we were sure to be having that evening.
When the sunset we made a huge campfire and sat around playing games and singing songs and drinking.
After waking up in a bad mood as thousands of ants were crawling through my hair, I soon remembered that today we were going to meet the Elephants!! I was excited about the third day for many reasons, mainly the elephants and the bamboo rafting but this also meant that we were only doing a 30 minute trek today and after the previous days accomplishments this was an easy feat.
The trek was pretty easy, mainly flat and downhill. We had no idea where we were exactly the whole time we were in the Jungle, how close to a village or main road etc until suddenly we reached a main road where all 17 of us were picked up in one truck and transported to the Elephants!
The Elephants were as amazing as I had imagined, we trekked for about 45 mins to an hour on our own Elephant through the Jungle with a Mahout nearby, I’m not exactly sure how he could have helped if the elephant decided to run off course, but luckily he didn’t. The Elephant that we had also came along with a little baggage, her baby Elephant, who despite being extremely naughty and cheeky was definitely the highlight for me!
Our Elephant was hilarious and until we fed him a banana or some more sugarcane he would stamp his feet and would not take another step until he had been fed! In some cases he hadn’t even eaten the first one but he still came back begging for a second!
We had been warned about the Elephants being incredibly bumpy, but we were pleasantly surprised, apart form a couple of instances where our Elephant decided to walk in the opposite direction to the rest of the herd, which sometime resulted in going down a steep drop that felt like you were on a rollercoaster it was pretty tame.
After we had finished on the Elephants we headed for a quick bite to eat and then to the Bamboo Rafting. Steve and I paired up with Stella and Camille a couple of Danish girls from our group and were the first team to venture onto the water. As soon as we set off Steve was asked by the local guy to grab an oar and get to the back of the raft and help ‘drive’ us.
The water started off pretty flat and tame, but it soon picked up and when all the teams got closer together the tactics came out, everyone was splashing each other and trying to push each other in or steer everyone in the wrong direction. Unfortunately for Sean, Brandon and Justin they got the worst of it and spent more time in the water than on the raft! Daniele, O and Jung, impressed us all by winning the race by miles!
Steve did a brilliant job after being asked to switch to the front of the raft as the main ‘driver’ he led us through rapids and rocks and we didn’t fall in once : )
Soaking wet, exhausted and ready to relax by the pool at BMP Residence, we all jumped into our buses and set off on the journey back to our hostel.
We had an amazing experience, the trek was HARD but well worth it and we met some amazing people! The Elephants were a definite highlight and in hindsight I think if we were to do it again we would probably opt for the one night, two-day option as there was a lot of waiting around and for the actual amount of trekking we did it would have been better squeezed into one day!