Luang Prabang, Laos part 2

Our last day in Luang Prabang we went on an organized tour, which was nice because several of the remaining things we wanted to see and do were spread out around Luang Prabang. So, for $45, we had an amazing day riding elephants, boating on the Mekong, and jumping off crystal clear waterfalls.

Trekking through the jungle on an ELEPHANT!

Trekking through the jungle on an ELEPHANT!

 

After an hour drive, we arrived at the elephant camp. Right away, we hopped on top of three elephants and hit the trail. Sara and I shared a basket, and our friend Vin took one out solo. Each elephant also had a “Mahout”, or elephant trainer. Our trainer was riding a 4 year old elephant and training him and pulling our older, 36 year old elephant behind. Our trail took us up and down a mountain through a jungle. It was much more of a jostling/nauseating ride than we expected – mainly because when you were going downhill, you were pointing downhill for a while. It was just exciting to see the raw power and strength of these animals.

Elephant tricks

Elephant tricks

We returned back to the camp, dismounted and had lunch, which consisted of bananas, sticky rice, pork, and bamboo shoots with noodles, which are a local treat that was surprisingly tasty. After that we went and spent time with the elephants. We fed them bananas – the elephants loved them and would all reach out their trunks to grab them out of your hand. They taught the elephant to do some tricks – it could twirl a hula-hoop on its trunk, and stand up on two legs. The highlight for us was when they instructed the baby elephant to lay down, and we climbed on from ground level and sat right on the neck of the elephant.

Sara looks at home on the elephant

Sara looks at home on the elephant

We went into the elephant experience knowing that there are some ethical issues attached. Our elephants were chained up at the camp, but they did not wear their baskets all day, and they didn’t hit them (while we were there). The sad reality is that these elephants are endangered, and if they weren’t hauling tourists they’d be performing even harder labor in the jungle for the tribe. We can only hope our infusion of money will ensure they are well fed, loved, and taken care of by their village.

On the boat to the Pak Ou caves

On the boat to the Pak Ou caves

After the elephants we walked down to the water and took a long wooden “boat” of questionable quality to the Pak Ou caves. The caves were discovered several hundred years ago, and since the government changed in the 1970s, the King started going to the cave during Laos New Year and brought Buddha statues. Since then, people bring Buddha figures nearly every day, which supposedly brings you good luck. They say there are now over 10,000 statues in the caves.

We took the return boat and then took a long van ride to the Kuang Si waterfall. The “waterfall park” is a huge, multi-tiered park with a lot of green space, beautiful falls, and crystal blue waters. It would be easy to spend an entire day there just reading and relaxing. We only had a few hours, so after taking some pictures at the top of the falls, we headed down to the swimming area. The water was a beautiful crystal blue and made for some awesome (and cold) swimming.

They also had a rope swing and the option to jump off a waterfall! After double checking the depth (don’t worry, Mom!) I went off the swing and Sara hesitantly, and then jubilantly, did the same. It was fun, but the real highlight was jumping off the 10 foot waterfall. We each went once, and we did one jump together, which we videoed:

Overall it was a great day, and we really love Luang Prabang. When in Laos, we would definitely recommend traveling there.

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2 Responses to Luang Prabang, Laos part 2

  1. Emily says:

    Love following your adventures! We already have the Luang Prabang portion of our trip booked and are super excited! What was the name of the tour company you went with for your elephant ride/boat trip/waterfall day? Your posts are so helpful, and tips like that are extra awesome. Any chance of meeting up with you guys in SE Asia somewhere? We fly into Hanoi on the 26th. Glad to see you’re both well! Hadn’t heard about the Laos Airlines crash until I read your blog…we have a flight booked with them! :(

    Keep living it up, and safe travels!

    Em & Terry