Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Caving With The Chief

Today was a great day here in Huay Pakoot. The morning hike with the elephants was cut short, so instead Sateesh had a quick chat with the Chief and he agreed to take us on a long hike to visit some nearby caves.At around 10:30 we headed down the hill from the village, reached a field of dried up rice patties, then headed back up a steep hill. At the top of the hill we had an amazing view back towards the village, with most of the home stays and mahout homes visible. Unfortunately, we could not see base hut, which was hidden around the hill and behind trees. From the top of the hill we walked down the other side on a flatter trail. We saw signs of our elephants everywhere, bamboo that had been knocked down and elephant footprints in the mud. Our herd had obviously been spending some weekends and afternoons deep in the forest.The forest eventually opened up into more patty fields and after a turn to the left we came across the caves. There were three caves in a row and we sat in front of the biggest cave and had a picnic lunch. After lunch we donned our head lamps and headed into the cave. We spent probably 45 minutes with the chief exploring the cave, spotting bats and crazy looking spiders, enjoying the beautiful rock formations, and searching for other animals and enjoying the dark. At one point we all turned our torches off and I think the chief was confused that we wanted to be in the dark because he pulled out his lighter and lit it. Overall, it was a great adventure and we returned to base at around 3pm.