Right from the start we could tell this was a well run and organised operation, before we had even got off the bus from Luang Prabang the tuk tuk driver was aboard to meet us. A short trip to the boat jetty and an even shorter trip on a small long boat and we were at the centre. The staff were there to great us and take our luggage up to the bungalow, where they left us to get settled before checking in.
We booked the two night three day trip well in advance before we left the UK, which was just as well as it's very popular.
The accommodation is a little basic in the bamboo huts but the beds were comfy and warm and we had mosquito nets (not that there were many about during December). Bathrooms are shared and again a little basic but for us this was all part of the experience. The food was great and always plenty of it.
The staff were all very friendly and the three guides were extremely knowledgeable and all spoke very good English. During our stay we never felt ignored and were looked after very well. We got the impression that everyone really cares about the elephants. We learnt that by staying there we were helping to fund the great work they do all over Laos, their vets will travel all over the country providing free treatment and training for anyone with an elephant that needs their help. They also provide a service that a mahout with a pregnant elephant can bring her to the centre and they will provide food and accommodation for both elephant and mahout until both mother and baby elephant are ready to travel back home.
This is not some tourist elephant park where the elephants walk a continuous circuit with a never ending stream of tourists on their backs, they really are doing some great work here to ensure the Asian elephant in Laos doesn't end up on the endangered list.
This was the highlight of our trip so far and would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys spending time with theses animals in as close as possible to their natural habitat.