Shangri Lao

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A full day tour to a remote elephant camp, walking in the footsteps of French explorer Dr. P. Neiss, who once surveyed the local tribes around Luang Prabang.

You spend the day trekking on the back of elephants, lazing beside waterfalls, walking through pristine jungle and then end up floating downriver on a luxurious bamboo raft. After an initial orientation and a discussion with the chief veterinarian in the hospital, its time to feed and bathe the elephants in the river. Then the actual expedition begins with an elephant ride across the same river and continues for 1.5 hours to reach the protected Huay Sae Valley. You are sat on a seat on a comfortable bench on the back of a female elephant, and don’t be afraid of tree branches and sunlight, since a bamboo roof will cover you (a nice extra is a hole on the side so you still can take pictures right and left).

After reaching this first stopping point you leave your elephant and rest at the jungle sala to enjoy a delicious lunch with traditional Lao food and wine by a secluded and beautiful waterfall. Depending on the water level you can refresh and swim in the natural pools. After lunch continue on foot for 1.5 hours along the scenic Huay Sae mountain stream. The trekking isn’t difficult at all, nearly everyone can do it – simply watch your head sometimes because of low hanging branches and be aware of some slippery areas during the rainy season. What you get is a unique experience of flowers and plants, insects and – if you are lucky – even bigger animals. The trail crosses bamboo bridges and passes waterfalls, fantastic limestone formations and turquoise blue pools in the dense jungle. Along this educational trail you will learn more about this important ecosystem.

Where the trail leaves the valley, traditional horses from the Hmong hill tribes are waiting for you to carry your bags up a more demanding section. These strong porter-horses accompany you for the last 30 minutes of trekking through fields, plantations and teak forest. Enjoy stunning views to the mountain ranges while your guide explains the local agriculture and farming methods. Down at the Nam Khan River, transport is waiting to take you back downriver to the camp. Whilst it is a ‘bamboo raft’, this is not a makeshift vessel: Pillows and mats make it comfortable for you to rest a bit while being served drinks. Enjoy the break, relax and watch the traditional village life of farmers and fishermen along the river. The relaxing 1.5 hour journey will pass the Tad Sae waterfalls and there will be an optional 30 minute stop.

Late afternoon you will depart the camp and return to your hotel in Luang Prabang, where your guide will drop you off at your hotel.

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