Elephant interaction in Luang Prabang, a tour and visit at Elephant Village
The original name of Laos is “Lane Xang” or “The land of a million elephants”
In the past and even until today, most of these impressive animals were used as labor to carry heavy loads in logging. Many of the Elephants in Laos have been treated quite badly. To protect the elephants from abuse and cruel work the plan for an elephant camp was developed and realized 10 years ago. It is just one way to protect them and offer them an easier life!
In the elephant village “Ban Xang”, Elephant Village, that was set up in 2003 by the German Markus Peschke, 11 female elephants found a new home. Located in astonishing surroundings embedded between mountains and the Nam Khan River and about a 20 minute boat cruise to Tad Sae Waterfall it is not only a good place to get to know the life of the elephants but also to do several outdoor activities like the “Trail of Falls”.
As an intern at Tiger Trail I had the opportunity to visit the elephant village and Tad Sae Waterfall for half a day on a special Lao Elephant tour. It was a memorable experience for me and I will surely return to that place in the future.
The road from Luang Prabang to Elephant Village is quite bumpy but as soon as you approach the elephant camp you will encounter the second largest terrestrial animal of our planet. The Asian elephant differs in many ways to it’s bigger brother from Africa: First, in size; he is a bit smaller, second, his ears are tiny and third, the tusks are also much smaller. Not impressed yet? Here are some other facts from Elephant Village:
- When a female gives birth the baby’s weight is about 100 kgs!
- The duration of pregnancy is almost 2 years!
- The weight of an elephant is up to 5000 kgs, the height up to 3,50 Meters and the length up to 6,5 Meters!
- A full grown Asian elephant eats about 160+ kgs of vegetarian meals a day!
On a trip to the elephant village you have the opportunity to ride on an elephant through the Nam Khan river.
Don’t forget to bring your camera as you can take nice shots in misty mornings. Being a “mahout” requires some skills of the Laotian language. “Pai sue sue” for example means “Go straight”. “Pai sai” (Left) or “Pai Kwaa” (Right) are some useful phrases to give directions to your animal porter. After your ride you get the chance to feed your elephant with sugarcane or bananas – she will for sure keep you in good memory!
I also went on a short boat cruise to one of the most scenic waterfalls in Laos. Tad Sae has only water in the first months after the rainy season and is dried out by the end of February.
There are some nice trails to discover with small little caves and lush rain forest. A nice refreshment is the dip in the waterfall. You can also “swim” on an elephant in the pools of Tad Sae. Five smaller elephants are living in the area.
You can support the elephants and Elephant Village with your tour!
A great percentage of the tour price will be used to maintain the responsible tourism business of Elephant Village.
Buying more elephants, the renting fee of the plot of land, medical treatment as well as enough food for the elephants are important things to save and protect the Asian elephant. A visit of the elephant village is a good way to explore life in the countryside and besides the cultural highlights of Luang Prabang, a nice alternative of meeting one of the friendliest and interesting animals in the world.