Elephants, Laos was once known as the land of a million Elephants.
Once these majestic animals were the mainstay of travelling, hauling long distance and logging.
Even as recently as the Vietnam war, elephants were used to supply the war effort along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Today the Elephant is no longer required for hard toil and is protected. The are a number of Elephant conservation efforts in Laos and many conduct Elephant tours, to help fund their operations and provide their Elephants with stimulating activity.
Below is an example of Elephant adventure, offered by Green Discovery Laos.
Way of the Mahout: elephant caravans in Northern Laos
Location: Hongsa district, Sayaboury Province. (5 days)
Elephant Adventures repays a percentage of its turnover to the “Sayaboury Elephant Care Unit” (elephant mobile clinic) run by ElefantAsia and the National Animal Health Centre (Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture). Funds are used to purchase medicine for sick elephants and to promote breeding of elephants. ElefantAsia non-profit organisation supports local mahouts and runs the “Lao Domesticated Elephant Care and Management Programme” and “Sayaboury Elephant Mobile Clinic”. ElefantAsia supports the reconversion of logging elephants into quality and humane ecotourism activities. During the tour, Elephant Adventures pays local hosts for homestay according to a standard defined with the villagers.
Groups do not exceed 6 persons, leaving only a small “footprint” on the environment. Our guides pay a special attention at not spoiling the environment and leave no waste behind the group.
Our mahouts are experienced and can share their knowledge with our guests. They perfectly know the forest we are travelling in and are expert elephant handlers. The experience we propose with elephants is authentic and fully outdoors. Guests actually ride the elephants and learn driving commands. It is possible to ask for a special guide, who is an elephant specialist from ElefantAsia NGO and who speaks Lao.
We use only the best elephants and the best mahouts. Elephants are carefully selected for their docility and respect of their masters’ commands. Mahouts entering the trek have no negative backgrounds with their elephants and are chosen by a chief mahout. Security rules are taught to mahouts and guests at the beginning of each trek. Our elephant chairs are specially designed to offer maximum comfort and security. They have side handles and are covered with a bamboo roof that prevents organic matter from falling on guests while in the forest. They also provide shelter in case of heavy sun or rain. Another important point lies in the possibility of evacuating sick or wounded guests via the Hongsa/Tha Souang road (see map). From this road, there is a trail leading to Ban Nam Tap (Houeylap) that allows a car to reach Hongsa and Tha Souang within 45 mn. The guide travels with a fully equipped medical box.
Source: Green Discovery Laos