ECC Discovery & Luang Prabang in-depth

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Overview

Looking for a combination between Luang Prabang's mystical atmosphere and the awe-inspiring Laotian wildlife and natural scenery? Eureka. You just found it. A peaceful, positive and sort of healing aura will accompany you throughout this journey, from the UNESCO World Heritage town and its nearby wonders, till the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayabouri, which is at the forefront of this majestic creature’s protection.  Take a deep breath, relax and learn the ways of its people, who are widely known to be one of the happiest on Earth. We invite you to figure out why!

Highlights

  • Let ourselves be enveloped by the truly special atmosphere of Luang Prabang. 
  • Discover its array of gilded UNESCO protected temples, its French colonial facades and its dreamy streets, which somehow have retained the aura of the old Lane Xang. 
  • Panoramic cruise on the Mekong river.
  • Visit to the most celebrated natural surroundings of Luang Prabang (Pak Ou caves, Kuang Si waterfall, nearby villages)
  • An authentic, inspiring, poignant and nearly meditative experience at the Elephant Conservation Center.
     
Arrival in Luang Prabang

Day 1 Arrival in Luang Prabang

Meals: not included | Accommodation: Villa Chitdara, Superior room

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by your guide and driver for a short transfer to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Getting to know Luang Prabang & Mekong Cruise to Pak Ou Caves

Day 2 Getting to know Luang Prabang & Mekong Cruise to Pak Ou Caves

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Villa Chitdara, Superior room

After breakfast, we visit the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of the local history. We also visit the country’s most historic and enchanting temple Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style. We then continue to the Riverside, where we board a private boat for a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside.

Our first stop is the village of Ban Muangkeo where we start a short trek to reach the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two caves set in a limestone cliff facing the Mekong River crammed with thousands Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes.  Afterwards we return to Luang Prabang by boat, stopping at the weaving and textile villages of Ban Xangkhong and Ban Nongxai.

We arrive back in Luang Prabang by and visit Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape. Late-afternoon, you have the option to climb Mount Phousi, which offers a spectacular view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River, or if you prefer, we can head to Wat Aham to witness the evening chant of the monks.

Tak Bat, Picnic breakfast at Kuang Si, Evening Baci ceremony

Day 3 Tak Bat, Picnic breakfast at Kuang Si, Evening Baci ceremony

Meals: breakfast, dinner | Accommodation: Villa Chitdara, Superior room

We wake up early this morning (5.30am) to witness and partake in the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat’ or giving alms to the monks.  This is a unique ritual still followed by the locals in Luang Prabang.  We can also visit the local fresh market to see how the locals shop.

We then drive directly to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall arriving there around 8am, well before anyone else arrives so you will have the falls to yourself!  A picnic breakfast can be enjoyed overlooking the falls. We arrive back in Luang Prabang by midday where the rest of the day is at leisure.

Our guide will meet us again in the early evening for a short transfer to a nearby village where you have the opportunity to participate in a traditional Baci Ceremony. A Baci is performed in celebration of an important event such as weddings, births, or for welcoming guests and is a means of expressing good will and good luck to others.The ceremony is leaded by one of the village highly respected elderly and involves offerings to spirits and tying of strings to each other’s wrists to lock in the good spirits. Then enjoy dinner with the villagers. 
 

Luang Prabang - Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury

Day 4 Luang Prabang - Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: bamboo bungalow with shared bathroom

You will be met this morning at 7:30 at your hotel by your driver and guide and transferred to the meeting point for a shared transfer to Sayaboury, the heartland of the Asian Elephants. 

After approx 3 hour drive, we will cross the Nam Tien Lake by boat to reach The Elephant Conservation Center, the only active member in Laos of the Asian Captive Elephant working group, an international organization that works on the welfare for elephants under human care.

You will have time to settle into your private bungalow before your guide takes you to the forest. Along the way, you walk past the different enclosures where our main activities take place. After enjoying a Laotian style picnic, you can watch the resident mother and baby at the nursery. The mahout of the mother stays close by while she and her baby have a bath and play. The mother trusts the mahout around her offspring and even lets him play with her a little bit.
When the mother and baby have drunk enough and returned to the forest, you will take the boat back to the Center for the hospital visit. ECC's Laotian Vet Assistant or Biologist will Introduce you to their world and tell you more about common and uncommon injuries and their respective treatments. It is also the perfect time to ask any questions you have about the biology of the elephants.
You will then observe the elephants’ daily bath and learn more about our giant guests’ playful characters. Elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and love water. They also use bath time to socialize and strengthen ties in the herd. 

After the elephants have washed themselves, you will have the opportunity for some soft interaction with the mahouts by your side. Get a feel for the elephant’s amazing skin and prickly hair, and experience up close the dexterity of their trunk. Now it’s time for them to walk back to the forest. After a short trek the mahouts will decide on a place where the elephants can graze for a while. The guide will tell you a little about the background of each elephant. They have all worked hard before they came here. See if you are already able to recognize the elephants while observing them.  

Before dinner, take a walk in the surroundings and check one of the viewpoints. You can also go for a swim in the lake, take out a canoe, or visit the museum where one of the staff will give a small presentation on ECC's conservation efforts. During meal time, feel free to ask your unresolved questions to the staff and share one of their delicious Lao style cocktails!

ECC - Luang Prabang

Day 5 ECC - Luang Prabang

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: not included

This morning, you will meet up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night grazing in the jungle, it is time for another bath. Enjoy strolling together with these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.

When they have had their fill of water they are brought to the Socialization Area. This is an area where the elephants can freely interact during a big part of the day, recreating a semi-natural living environment. Here the elephants can enjoy being elephants. Follow the guide around the perimeter to learn more about the group and its dynamics. Take your time on the different platforms to see how a new herd is being formed. This rare opportunity will bring you closer to their natural life, something which is very special about our program and difficult to find anywhere else.

Lunch is served at the center. You have some time to relax and wander around before we bring you back to Luang Prabang, arriving in the late afternoon. 

Price per person based on group tour

Group size 2 pax 3-4 pax
Price per person (Oct. 2018 - Apr. 2019)  USD 764 USD 644
Price per person (May - Sept. 2018 & 2019) USD 748 USD 627

 

* Prices valid until Sept. 2019

* Would you like to adapt the itinerary, accommodation or any activity as per your needs and preferences? Then just get in touch with us with your comments at info@handspan.com (we are specialists designing tailor-made trips!) 

* Special prices for children, groups of more than 4 people and the possibility to connect the tour with other stages of your trip around Indochina, by contacting us at info@handspan.com. 

* A private trip for a solo traveler is also available with a surcharge

Included

  • Accommodation as specified on the program
  • Transportation in private vehicle on days 1, 2 and 3.
  • Shared transportation on days 4 and 5.
  • English speaking guide
  • Activities, visits and admission fees to indicated sights
  • Meals: daily breakfast at hotel, lunch/dinner where stated only 
  • Gov’t tax 

Not included

  • International flights and visas
  • Personal travel Insurance
  • Child or adult in triple sharing room
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses 
  • Supplements on peak season
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