Photos: Laos - Luang Prabang > Our venture to an elephant sanctuary ...a truly "lifetime experience"
We are visiting an elephant village today, about a 30 minute drive from Luang Prabang. We will ride an elephant for an hour or so, feed them and, for some, we will get a chance to wash them(or "us") in the river. We are looking forward to this as we had a 10 minute ride on the back of an elephant in Vietnam …too short and we didn’t get to walk along a river bank in amongst the trees. You arrive at the pick-up station, this is where you climb on the backs of the elephants to get to the seats, as I watched couples getting on and off they just stepped over onto the elephant’s back and then sat down, easy…unless you get the largest elephant in the village and because he is so big you can only step on the side of his body and the handler gives you a hand up, otherwise you would fall off, , even John had a hard time! Our very large pachyderm’s name was Bun Sue and Wan was our handler. Bun Sue is 65 years old, the oldest and largest of the elephants at the village.
The meet and greet stand, this is where you get on and off your elephant.
Bun Sue and his sugarcane. He carries a load of stalks and can manipulate, with the end of his trunk, one stalk at a time to eat as he goes along…very talented! You move sideways when he walks and he walks so slowly that this very slow movement can almost lull you to sleep……if you are sitting in the saddle seat…..but…
This is Wan, he asked John if he wanted to sit on Bun Sue’s neck, then left us alone with the elephant for about 45 minutes. John thought this was a really great deal. Bun Sue did try to pull up a tree so Wan had to yell at him and he was going to wander in a different direction but once again Wan hollered from the distance and got him turned around and pointed in the right direction, so I guess he was watching us as we wondered on our own.
You can stay for a half day or up to seven days, these are the cottages you live in whilst at the camp.There are 14 of these cottages so they can handle 28+ guests in their accomodation as folks progress their skills in all aspects of elephant handling.
The river we walked beside and in.
I think he is yawning, the elephants don’t seem to mind the walk, and they are continually being fed sugarcane, and greenery and get a bath when the walk is over.
The edges of his ears look and feel like a chamois.
I remember I kept on asking John where would we go to get out of the river and there was a fairly high slope all along the river’s edge…I soon found out.
John had the better seat, Bun Sue uses his trunk and legs to get up the slope.
Thank goodness flat land!
Time for some treats, they also eat kernels of corn, you can see all the corn on the floor, only a few kernels get into their mouths.
It looks like they are sitting and standing on the water, no sign of the elephant.
Now it is time for the elephant to have some fun…
Again and again
Time to get back to the treat station!
We really enjoyed our day with the elephants, they are big and slow but as you spend time with them you see their personalities coming through. Next time we are in Luang Prabang we will go to an elephant park again.