Luang Prabang & Laotian Wildlife Family Trip

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Overview

Truly fun, experimental and educational activities in Luang Prabang, combined with a program which will allow us to fully experience the peaceful and beautiful world of Asia's most iconic creature in the ECC.

Once known as the Land of a Million Elephants, the fact is that the current number in the country is down to a mere thousand. Financed almost exclusively by ecotourism activities, the Elephant Conservation Center is at the forefront of elephant protection, fostering their recovery after having been formerly damaged and mistreated, encouraging visitors to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, which is, indeed, an authentic, inspiring, poignant and nearly meditative experience. Plus we will be enjoying our stay on their lodge at a one-of-a-kind setting with 530 hectares of Nam Tien protected forest at the heartland of the AsIan elephants, being the pleasure even greater when one knows that entrance fees go toward saving these magnificent animals, instead of exploiting them.

Highlights

  • Discover the truly special UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, 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. 
  • The natural wonder of Kuang Si waterfalls.
  • Truly fun, experimental and educational activities at socially responsible venues like the Living Land Farm or the Laos Buffalo Dairy.
  • An authentic, inspiring, poignant and fun stay at the Elephant Conservation Center and a memorable family experience!
Exploring Luang Prabang

Day 1 Exploring Luang Prabang

Meals: not included | Accommodation: Villa Chitdara, Standard double room


We will get started with our special journey throughout Luang Prabang by visiting the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which provides a fine overview of the culture and history of this ancient city.  We follow the quiet back lanes to the beautiful historical Huan Chuan Heritage House, taking in its historical items and architectural charms while learning about the connection it has with the Royal Palace. After a refreshing Iced Tea in the gardens, we continue our walk up the peninsula to the country’s most historic and enchanting temple, Wat Xiengthong. With its roof that sweeps low towards the ground, this temple's architecture best represents the classical Luang Prabang style. We wander the temple grounds before crossing the road to Wat Khili, where this temple’s charming traditional library building houses an historic photo exhibition of Buddhist heritage.

In the early afternoon, we first visit the excellent ‘Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre’, which gives a great insight into the rich and diverse ethnic and cultural blend of Laos.  We then transfer out of town and visit the weaving and textile villages of Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek. Back in town, we continue to Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape.

And last but not least, we will be transferred to Mt Phousi for a climb up the sacred hill that offers spectacular sunset vista and a panoramic view over Luang Prabang and across the Mekong River.
 

 

Living Land Community Farm – Kuang Si Waterfalls  – Buffalo Dairy

Day 2 Living Land Community Farm – Kuang Si Waterfalls – Buffalo Dairy

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: Villa Chitdara, Standard double room

After breakfast, we will be transferred by car to the idyllic Living Lands Organic Farm, a community initiative where we will be explained on a very entertaining way and through different 14 chapters the process to obtain the rice, from the very first step (how to choose the right seeds) till the last one (degustation of different Lao rice specialties). Among other experiences, we can learn about how to plow the fields with a water buffalo, plant and harvest. You are invited to interact and experience each step of the rice harvest and will see how different tools are used. The tour ends with a tasting of the traditional foods made from rice. We will have a new appreciation for rice and admiration for the people of Lao who to this day continue to harvest rice without modern machinery. Plus it is a very interesting, fun, educational and muddy experience and a 100% community based initiative whose profit goes directly for different educational and social purposes for the young and retired locals taking part in it.

In the afternoon we will head to the celebrated Kuang Si Waterfalls, where we will enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the falls and we will have the chance to admire and wander around one of the natural wonders of Indochina.

On our way back to Luang Prabang, a very special place will be awaiting us: The Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm, a social and ecological responsible business whose main activity is to host the buffalos and to elaborate sustainable dairy products when the farmers of the region don't need them on the fields. We will enjoy a visit around the farm and we will be explained about how they take care of these endearing animals. This way, the farmers avoid the cost of taking care of them during this period and are directly benefited from the revenues obtained through the dairy products, plus more and more of them are coming to learn very interesting sustainable techniques (when they see how well they work for their neighbours!). Vacuums and other sort of cares are also provided by vets, workers and volunteers specialists on animal’s ethical treatment. Apart from their majestic herd of buffalos, there are also rabbits, ducks, chickens, porks... 

We will be back in Luang Prabang by late afternoon.

Luang Prabang - Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury

Day 3 Luang Prabang - Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: ECC 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. 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!

 

Elephant Conservation Center – Socialization & Target Training

Day 4 Elephant Conservation Center – Socialization & Target Training

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: ECC Bamboo Bungalow with shared bathroom

After breakfast, meet up with the elephants in the forest. After spending the night grazing in the jungle, it is time for another bath. If they feel like, we may enjoy a stroll 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 before the elephants come down for their afternoon bath.

You will meet ECC's Laotian Vet Assistant or the Biologist again as they will conduct a Target Training session. All the elephants are being trained using ‘positive reinforcement’ techniques to facilitate any necessary treatments and to reduce the stress that these treatments or routine checks can give to them. We offer you the chance to follow their work from a safe distance.
 

ECC – Luang Prabang

Day 5 ECC – Luang Prabang

Meals: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: not included

On the third day, the guide and biologist will explain the enrichment activities. Enrichment is a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animal’s behavioural biology. Cognitive enrichment is provided in the form of hidden food, toys, a mud bath etc. to give mental stimulation to the elephants and avoid boredom. They love it! We invite you to take part in this amazing experience by helping our team to prepare the enclosure by cutting and hiding the food to give the elephants a challenge. Once they arrive, you will have the opportunity to observe how the elephants try to find what you have hidden! This is a novel and unique way to interact with our elephants, contributing directly to their well-being.

Lunch is served at the restaurant. You have some time to relax before we bring you back to Luang Prabang. You will be missing this exceptional setting, so have a walk around for the last time! 
 

Price per person based on group tour

Group size 2 pax 3-4pax
Price per person (Oct. 2018 - Apr. 2019)  USD 719 USD 652
Price per person (May - Sept. 2018 & 2019)  USD 708 USD 641

 

* 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 in shared double room as specified on the program (upgrades available with a supplement).
  • Transportation on private vehicle on day 1 and day 2
  • Shared vehicle on day 3 and day 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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