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“Riding an Elephant”

Elephant Village Sanctuary Day Trips
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Explore Luang Prabang Backroads Biking Tour
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Elephant Village in Luang Prabang 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 older children, Activities for young children
Perth, Australia
2 reviews
“Riding an Elephant”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 1, 2013

We had a wonderful day and the place is beautiful. However I would never ride an elephant again, I felt guilty afterwards. I should have been content just feeding them and observing. This would be for me a perfect place if they stopped the riding and just allowed you to bathe with them as is the case in Thailand.

Visited November 2013
Thank Maxine1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
175 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“A commercial production line of tourists waiting to ride on an elephant”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 27, 2013

We did enjoy our day, however we learnt absolutely nothing about the elephants and their history in Laos, despite asking numerous questions which were ignored. Th baby elephant was cute but I am suprised they allow so much human interaction, this poor little fellow must be very prone to catching something. Watching young girls trying to feed bananas to a breast feeding baby elephant was also frustrating. It was a day out also going to waterfalls etc but as for the elephant experience, I hope there is better out there, don't waste you money on the full day, a half day is quite sufficient.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank andrew f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
18 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“The elephants and us were all treated well”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 22, 2013 via mobile

I had read a lot about the different elephant preserves here and in Chiang Mai, and I had some trepidation about what it would be like. Thankfully it turned out to be a wonderful experience! I loved feeding the elephants and visiting the 5 month old Maxi. Our group of 3 had fun learning the mahout calls and taking a quick ride bareback on the neck of the elephant. The elephants seemed happy and were eating sugarcane. They tried to put 3 of us plus a mahout onto 1 elephant, but I didn't think it was right (due to our weight) so I skipped the 1 hr ride and took photos instead. The manager offered me a ride at Tad Sae instead.

After lunch we went to Tad waterfalls where we rode an elephant in the waterfalls. It wasn't really bathing an elephant, instead more like hanging on while she ran after her mahout in the hope of getting a watermelon rind or banana. While it was an incredible experience, I felt the elephants were not treated well at Tad Sae. They were swaying (a sign of boredom) and had nothing to eat. And the mahouts had pick axes that they threatened the elephants with (although I was glad that I didn't see any beatings).

The elephant sanctuary only owns 3 elephants, and rents 4 others. I will investigate buying an elephant, as they clearly could use more to serve all the eager tourists.

Our guide Dang had only been there 2 weeks but he was very nice and did a good job.

I recommend the full day mahout tour. We got incredible photos and have many wonderful memories of our experiences!

Visited November 2013
Thank KristinaIsberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“A really enjoyable day”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2013

The reviews for this attraction continue to swing between the extremes. FWIW we were a group of five on the mahout training day. We got on well together which obviously helps and received all the promised activities which included visiting the baby elephant, basic training, a long trek passing through the river on a howdah in pairs(this like it or not is as described in the programme description). They were adamant that there could be no more than two people per elephant + mahout. We took it in turns to ride on the elephant's neck. Lunch was freshly prepared - adequate but not grand. Vegetarians were catered for. We rode our elephants (oneperson per elephant) across the river and 'washed' them while the elephants were encouraged to spray water over us. Finally we had a return boat ride to the waterfall, had a swim and then returned back to our hotels. In the end we felt that they had fulfilled their promises. The whole experience was great fun. That said there were signs of overbooking and we did have to wait for our elephants at times. There is room for better staff training to deal more positively with these small glitches. For example tthe offer of a coffee whilst we waited would have been a nice gesture. The staff also appear to have been a little unsettled by very recent news that the German owner has sold the venture to a Lao businessman. Of course that is only hearsay and I have no way of verifying that. All in all I am glad I did the day's training and had a great time with very nice people. The animals appeared to be treated well as far as we could see. I would recommend the experience but don't expect more than it says on the tin.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank BobM10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
34 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“amazing day”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 17, 2013

I have read the other reviews and can understand why people think they've been short changed with how much contact time is with the elephants; but what people must realise is these animals are not fair ground rides. They need rest. And the whole reason they have been rescued here is to be saved from morning-night tourist slogging!!!!

On to my review. The village is beautiful and the elephants are peaceful. None are chained up or showing any signs of distress. Our guide was hilarious and spoke very good english, answering all our questions. We arrived, had a showaround and then on to mahout training. We then learned how to mount an elephant using the commands and walking around the village on elephants neck - one on one with the mahout. Then, we did the 1hr trek across the river and though the village. The jungle is not included in the day experience! But it was more than long enough and you could choose whether to sit in the chair or on the neck. Our mahout also took our camera and got us some lovely shots!

We then took a boat ride across the river to see baby Maxi. He's five months old and very playful - and strong! If you don't peel those bananas quick enough - he will ram you!

Next, lunch. A buffet which was tasty and filling. NIce salad too! Beer and soft drinks are extra cost and there is ice cream to buy too.
We were then asked to get changed into bathing gear and on the way to the changing rooms we found a very luxury pool. Be rude not to! So we had a dip after lunch whilst we waited for our guide to collect us.
After this, we went down to the river to bathe/swim with the elephants. It was amazing - I won't say too much.
The elephants only work 8-2pm then spend the rest of the day in the jungle eating. So we said our goodbyes, tipped our mahout then got on the boat to the Tad Sae waterfall. Here, we saw the 'All Laos Elephant Camp' where the elephants were kept chained, rocking and showed signs of deep elephant hook wounds. Please do not book a tour here. They're overworked and not fed.

The elephant village might be $10 more, but it's worth it to ensure their good work is continued and this shines through with healthy elephants, a baby being born in their breeding programme, the elephant hospital and a good quality of life.

Best day ever. Would strongly recommend!!!!

Visited November 2013
1 Thank hayleys5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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