Thailand’s first Luxury Tented Camp, The Elephant Hills and the Rainforest Camp situated in Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand is a must for any traveller with just a smidgen of adventure in their blood!

If you are doing an island or beach trip to Thailand, staying on Koh Samui or any of the other islands in the Gulf of Thailand or in Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi on the Adaman Sea, then I would strongly recommend adding on a couple of days to your stay to experience the Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Jungle Camp and the Elephant Hills Rainforest Tented Jungle Camp, one of the World’s few floating tented camps on the mesmerizingly beautiful Cheow Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park in Sura Thani Province. Having recently returned from a trip to Thailand, this was certainly one of the highlights of my 10-day stay, which included a couple of nights in Phuket and on Koh Phi Phi.

Khao Sok National Park is a couple of hours drive from Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi in the south and from Koh Samui to the east where you take the ferry from Koh Samui to Sura Thani to link up with the transfer to Elephant Hills. The drive is an eye opener to the surrounding countryside with its verdant jungle, spectacular vertical limestone mountains, hidden lakes and a diversity of flora and fauna. I would definitely add this 3 or 4 night itinerary to my Thai bucket-list as the perfect soft-adventure destination for those who enjoy a bit of jungle trekking, canoeing, kayaking and experiencing the natural environment in great comfort in between visiting the Thai beaches, islands or the capital, Bangkok. Diving off the floating raft on which my tent was situated for a swim in the warm lake and kayaking into the tributaries of the lake in the early morning were treasured experiences, which will be edged in my mind forever. There are 10 floating tents of which mine was closest to the community raft where meals are served and you can interact with other travellers enjoying this unique at one with nature experience.

Getting there is so simple, transfers are daily and you will be picked-up from your hotel and taken all the way to the Camp stopping off for drinks and breaks on the way. You can even do a spot of shopping at a local market in Takhun where you will experience authentic rural life in Thailand.

All too often we see projects which are deemed to be environmentally responsible but very often they have a big commercial aspect to them and do not reflect the responsible and sustainable side of eco-tourism. Elephant Hills do certainly seem to respect and value their elephants not permitting elephant riding and it was obvious that the environment is soundly taken care of, putting great emphasis on resource-saving, re-cycling and co-operating diligently with the local community by sourcing and training staff locally and most importantly improving education in the area with The Elephant Hills Childrens Project.

This is definitely a fabulous diversion when doing a trip to Thailand and I cannot wait to do it again with more time to spend at the Tented Lake Camp. Ideal for couples, honeymooners, (met 3 honeymoon couples while I was there) families and small groups. By the way kids up to the age of 16 stay free when visiting in May, June and September.

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Crash of MH-17 over Ukraine flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – Deepest sympathies to all those who have lost family in this tragedy

Crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is yet another alr-space tragedy. Deepest sympathies to the families of the 295 passengers and crew who were killed.
Lindsay Quail

Its Official – Unabridged Birth Certificates mandatory for passengers under the age of 18 years departing, entering or transiting South Africa

SA Government Requirements for Passengers under 18 years:

Effective 1st October 2014, a new South African Immigration Directive will be implemented. There will be stringent documentation requirements for all persons under 18 years to present an “unabridged” birth certificate at check-in, in addition to a valid passport when entering, departing or transiting South Africa.

This requirement will apply to minors of all nationalities whether traveling unaccompanied, with both parents, single parent or with other adults.

“Unabridged” birth certificate contains the details of the individuals’ date and place of birth, gender, name in full, particulars of parents, date and place of their birth and citizenship at time of their birth. It is a longer version as compared to the normal short version certificate which contains only name, date of birth, etc of the individual.

Travellers must ensure that all adults travelling with a passenger under the age of 18 years, are aware of the South African Immigration Directive. It takes up to 8 weeks to apply for an unabridged birth certificate so advance planning is strongly advised.

Lindsay Quail

The controversial Empress Dowager Cixi Summer Palace, Beijing – one of the world’s most regal palaces

The Summer Palace…

…of China’s indefatigable Empress Dowager Cixi


Prominently perched on a Longevity Hill, it is indisputably China’s
foremost Imperial Garden, and one of the world’s great regal
palaces. The Summer Palace is essentially a testimony to the
luxurious style of the feudal emperor, but decidedly represents an
apex in the development of Chinese landscape gardening in terms
of scale, layout, craftsmanship and artistic elegance.

Is it safe to travel to Thailand during the current unrest? Read on…

This is a letter I received from a colleague, a highly respected business man who has been in the travel industry for many years in Thailand, and whose judgement I trust implicitly so if you are travelling to Thailand in the next couple of months or plan to have a holiday in the Land of Smiles, read on…

Dear Lindsay,

Because I am starting to receive emails asking what is happening in Thailand, I thought it’s about time I write to you about the current situation, hopefully ally fears and give you confidence in speaking to your clients about travelling to Thailand.

First of all I can understand the hysteria that clients may have, and why not after watching CNN, BBC, etc. as these media machines survive on bad news portrayal, anything negative sells, and they have been known to sneak in old news clips and repeat it over & over again.

The real situation in Thailand is one of calm & relief. After many months of anti government demonstrations in Bangkok, the people became very tired. There was two sides, pro and anti government, with each side demanding the complete opposites, making negotiations & compromise an impossibility. Along came the military, who tried vainly to get the two hard headed political camps to discuss their differences, but there attempt was in vain.

To save the country from becoming a failed state, the military staged a coup d’etat, everyone in Thailand upon hearing the news breathed a sigh of relief, literally, because it meant the end of the stalemate. Naturally it’s not a democratic process, but seriously there was no way out.

The military called for a curfew from 10 pm to 4 am, but people were still moving around during those hours, it was very much relaxed. Today that curfew hour has been rescheduled to 12 midnight to 4 am, and it will be most probably lifted later on.

Everyone is at work, all the schools are open, restaurants, bars, shops, etc. are open for business as usual, you don’t see military on the streets, so for all intensive purposes it’s like some rebooted the system and we are back online if you get what I mean.

So there’s no excuse to avoid travel to Thailand, there are tourists from all over the world currently touring the country, and enjoying the hospitality.

Here’s a couple of feedback from tourists currently in Thailand as interviewed by the foreign press.

—- Phil Koenighaus

When Thailand’s military staged a coup last week, Phil Koenighaus was on a beach enjoying the debauchery of the country’s infamous “Half Moon” festival.

Not a soldier was in sight on the white sands of Koh Phangan and the raucous party that attracts revelers from around the world carried on for hours. After shaking off the effects of too much celebration, the German backpacker headed from the island to Bangkok, unfazed by the military takeover.

“I figured if I survived the Half Moon Party, I could go to Bangkok and brave the coup,” said the 19-year-old, tanned and relaxed as he strolled through one of the capital’s bustling bar and nightclub districts. “This is not how I imagined a coup.”

—- Rosemary Burt & Dior Tidwell

“It’s really like nothing’s changed, except you have to go home before 10,” said American tourist Rosemary Burt.

Burt and her daughter, from Gilbert, Arizona, were roaming around the ornate Grand Palace in Bangkok, before heading off to other sites and then a pre-curfew dinner. It was a normal day at the Grand Palace as tuk-tuk touts outside tried to swindle tourists with inflated rates and only the usual security stood guard.

Daughter Dior Tidwell, 36, said her initial concerns had dissipated: “I thought it was going to be a little dangerous.”

Lindsay Quail

Think you’ve gone everywhere? Think again!

What are the seriously new 2014 holiday trends? This is my take on what is hip and happening and the coolest places to holiday in 2014.

I am going to kick-off with one of the more extreme destinations, Iran, which many may regard as off their 2014 travel radar screen

For culturally inquisitive travellers Iran is hot and starting to happen. This is where you will find a feast of ancient sights, rich culture, interesting and varied landscapes, surprisingly splendid cuisine and the nicest and friendliest of people. The Persian Kingdom was one of the great powers of the ancient world and its magnificence can still be seen in palaces and rock carvings dated over two and a half millennia.

The city of Tehran

This magnificent country’s political past has been somewhat perilous. But with a new leader, Hassan Rouhani, who seems to be seeking some common ground with the West, I do believe that the likelihood of foreigners being fairly well received is ostensibly evident compared to a few years ago. In fact, according to those who have recently travelled to Iran the welcome they received was warm and friendly. There is no question that Iran is fascinating, with old cities packed with exquisite mosques and spectacular madrassas, examples of the most exquisite Islamic architecture in the world, ruins from ancient Persia, nomadic tribes, walking trails in the mountains, even skiing and the surreal Caspian Sea beach resorts. A smorgasbord of culture, history, cuisine, nature and friendly folk steeped in tradition but eager to meet strangers from other continents and countries.

Isfahan: Bridge of 33 Arches

Like many other of the great monuments of Isfahan, the Si-o-Seh Pol (meaning Bridge of 33 Arches) was built under the great Shah Abbas I. Under his rule, from 1587-1629, the Persian Empire became one of the most powerful in the world.

Persian or Farsi, is one of the world’s oldest languages still spoken today and possessing one of he most powerful literary traditions. Persian poetry with masterpieces of Saadi, Hafiz, Rumi and Omar Khayyam is celebrated around the world.

Statue of Omar Khayyam.

The art of cooking is seriously intertwined with Persian culture and the local cuisine is an exotic and rich blend of herbs and spices that send the taste buds into gourmet heaven.

Exotic spices in a food market.

Esfahan Tea House

Unquestionably, in this melting pot of civilization the visitor will be overwhelmed by the beauties of the landscape and the depth of this nations captivating, colourful and lively culture.

A great 14-day tour will take you through stunning palace gardens, experience exotic Persian cuisine, relax in classic teahouses and meet the friendliest locals and visit ancient Persepolis and Pasargadae. Starting in Tehran the tour visits Yazd the centre of the Zoroastrian Religion where you will see interesting architecture scattered around the old city. Then onto the Kerman region and the city of Shiraz, thereafter explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Persepolis and the ceremonial palace of Darius. By the end of your first week you will be heading to the beautiful city of Isfahan where you can do some serious shopping for authentic Persian rugs. Into the final week of the tour it is scenic drives through Natanz, where you will see mountain villages and take a camel ride in the Maranjab Desert before heading back to Tehran.

Visit the official website for the Iranian Embassy in South Africa for information about obtaining a visa to visit Iran.

http://www.embassysa.ir/index.php?lang=en

Travel to Iran – Lindsay Quail – Yours in travel.