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“Washing & Riding!”

Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort
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Explore Luang Prabang Backroads Biking Tour
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Elephant Village in Luang Prabang, Laos was set up in 2003 and is now owned by a group of passioante Lao nationals. Our sales office is located on the main street in town close to the National Museum and our beautiful elephant camp is located next to the village Ban Xieng Lom. Elephant Village focuses on three objectives:1. Saving Elephants 2. Community Support 3. Nature Preservation. We take elephants out of the very dangerous logging industry and provide them with an alternative way of earning their income. We try to help the elephants which desperately need help the most such as older elephants and elephants which have injuries due to accidents. We currently have 14 elephants in our care including 2 baby elephants which will never have to work in the logging industry. We are also home to a female elephant called Mae Uak, who was injured when she stepped on a 'UXO' (Un-Exploded Ordinance) some time ago, before we rescued her. She is now happily living in our herd.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed November 27, 2012

Riding elephants? How could you not give it a try!

We registered online for a half-day tour (~$42). They picked us up from our hotel in Luang Prabang around 8:45AM, a few other passengers along the way, and drove us down a "new road" (read: a bumpy dirt road) to the sanctuary. Once there, we visited and pet the elephants while waiting for our tour to begin.

We started by taking a boat down the river to the Tad Sae Waterfalls where you can swim, photograph the waterfalls, and hang out for about an hour. There is a separate tour company there that offers you a chance to "bathe with the elephants" for an additional fee (~$13); I ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND YOU DO IT! Basically, we got to ride an elephant bareback (without the mahout) through the waterfall pools for about 15-minutes or so. The mahout directed the elephant from the shore and took pictures of us with our camera. It was an awesome-fun time holding on to the elephant via a single rope around her neck (no, it doesn't hurt her) as she dove under the water, played with other elephants, and ate branches provided by a mahout on shore. This was the highlight of the experience; bring a swimsuit!

Once our time was up, we headed back to the elephant village via boat and hopped on an elephant with a bench strapped to its back. We think our bench might have needed adjustment because it felt like it was too far forward; we felt like we were going to fall on top of our mahout the entire time. In fact, he spent a lot of time trying to push our bench back because my knees were literally hitting him in the back; it was a rather uncomfortable ride and made me miss our time riding our elephant bareback through the water. After we completed our ride, we bought a single bunch of bananas and fed our elephant before having a tasty lunch (included) at the village restaurant.

Overall, I highly recommend the tour. I didn't see any evidence of abuse of the elephants and our guide told us that the elephants work in shifts for a half day, and then are released out to the jungle for the remainder of the evening. Although the elephant ride on the bench was uncomfortable, I believe it was because our particular bench needed to be adjusted. With that said, the highlight for us was bathing the elephant at Tad Sae Waterfalls.

3  Thank Don N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 21, 2012 via mobile

I have ridden elephants before in Thailand which wasnt a great experience with the handler hitting them in the head when they weren't behaving and for someone who had only ever seen elephants in zoos and never up close it left a bad taste in my mouth.after reading about the elephant village I decided to give it another go and from the time u get there u can see these elephants have a better life.to be able to ride these animals just on there neck no straps or no sticks is a great experience and riding them into the river and wash them was a experience ill never forget.it is a bit pricey and is a bit of sitting around but hey u get to hang with elephants so I feel it's all worth it.

Thank Ajl277
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 21, 2012

Unless you do not like elephants,this is a must.We booked the half day programme which actually lasted longer.Collected at our hotel by one the quides,you bounce your way to the camp on unpaved roads but once you arrive,the elephant camp at Shangri Lao is just amazing.We rode on a 38 year old female and the actual time you are in the jungle with her is about one and half hours and halfway through,the mahoot jumps off and tells you to take over.Pretty scary but exiting.You wade across the river with her and then simply enjoy the absolute peace of this huge animal with her mahoot.Hugely recommended and a very classy day out.You can book a raft to take you back to camp with lunch provided if you want too.

2  Thank iandavidknights
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 18, 2012

Riding the elephants was fantastic and we laughed when they would want to stop all the time to munch on leaves and shrubs. Later riding on the elephants in the waterfall just is just beyond description - fun, exhilarating and scary because the animals just want to be close together and if you don't lift your legs up, you could be squashed between the elephants.

Real fun !!

1  Thank LizzinCNS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2012

Logging is still rife in Laos and elephants are still being used.
Simply by visiting the Elephant village with a $5 entry, you are supporting a worthy cause.
You don't need to ride to have a feel good experience, you can just feed them bananas and give them a good head rub.
Bareback riding is by far the kindest to the elephants - the chairs can make them form abscesses and other problems if they aren't washed or cared for properly.

This place is full of contrasts - they look after the elephants pretty well, but still ties them up with a metal hook around their ear... then there's a poor monkey in a cage has nothing to play with, he has water but that's it - he's bored and exhibits stress reactions, there are also starving boney dogs around.

It would be kind if anyone who reads this, also mentions it to the staff.

3  Thank MissT603
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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