We decided we would like to finish our holiday with something different so went to The Elephant Village some 20 kms north from Luan Prabang in the jungle. We arrived at this meticulously prepared resort where the mission statement is ‘saving elephants is our mission’. Laos was known as the Land of the Million Elephants but the elephant in Laos is now an endangered species. Some 1,600 remain of which an estimated 560 still work in the forest harvesting timber. These elephants face a bleak future of hard work and abandonment. The aim of The Elephant Village is not only to rescue working elephants from the harsh abusive environment in which they must make a living, but give them a brighter future, allowing them to roam freely in the jungle, group together in herds, mate and start families. The activities with the animals plus the accommodation at the resort, provide funds to support the elephants.
When we arrived, we were taken by boat to the other side of the river. There we took part in the morning wash. The elephant lifts one leg which acts as a step, then you hold onto the ears and haul yourself up to sit right under the ears. We can tell you that it made us quite nervous being so high up just hanging onto the ears. The Mahout (trainer/handler) sits behind. The elephant lumbers into the river and is instructed to sit down. Then you are given a scrubbing brush and you have to wash and scrub the elephant clean whilst sitting on top. The younger, more lithe backpackers stood up, slid down to the tail and also, sat on the trunk. We were quite happy to stay in one place! Michael lost his scrubbing brush and his Mahout went diving in the river to find it which left Michael alone on his elephant holding onto his Mahout’s mobile phone. A nervous experience. Afterwards a seat was tied on the Val’s cleaned elephant, and we went for a ride through the jungle.
We spent the rest of the morning exploring the resort and pool, finding out about the vet hospital and relaxing under a hut which had a wonderful view of the river, mountains, jungle and the village gardens. A delightful lunch capped off the morning.
It was then back to Hanoi, Singapore and home, sweet home.
We had a wonderful time. Thanks to Yarra Travel Junction for the marvellous organisation. We had lots of fun and made new friends.