Where wild elephants roam

After decades of conflict between farmers and wandering elephants along the Thai-Myanmar border, Thailand’s most beloved former leader — King Bhumibol the Great — conjured up a daring new plan. Throwing a border around the wild lands of the country’s last big herd, he turned those once angry farmers into tour guides and the elephant’s greatest champions. Now they lead Thailand’s single-best wildlife safari, and the beasts that once trampled their farmlands have become their livelihood.

Today, Kui Buri National Park protects a rare patch of green — one of the largest sweeps of intact forest in all of southeast Asia — and is home to an elephant population of 320 and rising. This is easily the most reliable place in Thailand to encounter wild elephants, and despite the park’s close proximity to Hua Hin’s bustling beach holiday strip, Kui Buri’s wild safaris remain a well-kept secret.

The prospect of encountering elephants in what’s left of Thailand’s ever-shrinking wilderness is all I need to coax my family onto a

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