Thursday, November 27, 2008

Elephant Mahouts? Yes we are! Mahout training in Luang Prabang!


Destination: Tiger Trails - XL Elephant Experience


Number of Days there: 2

One thing unexpected: Seeing the local village kids on our hike after the elephant training.

Times we took the: Boat: 6; Bus/Minivan: 0; Train/Subway: 0 Taxi/Car: 1; Tuktuk: 1

Where we stayed: XL Elephant camp

Favorite Restaurant: All food was included in our tour, nothing really spectacular but still good!

Best of: Bathing the elephants was fantastic!

Worst of: Pouring rain on the first day of our trip put a damper (literally) on our first elephant ride.

Special Moments: The first few moments riding on the elephant behind its was both scary and exhilarating!

Tracy was bound and determined to get up close and personal with elephants in Laos so we decided to book an elephant mahout training trip from Luang Prabang. We booked our two day trip through Tiger Trails, an ecologically conscious group that gives back to the local community, for a price of $110 per person including all transport, meals & training with the elephants. Another expensive splurge but we think it was definitely worthwhile! Our trip started out rather bleakly with pouring rain so our first elephant ride of the day was really a wash but luckily the sun came out and by the afternoon we were back in business! During the second ride of the day we were able to ride behind the ears of the elephant effectively acting as the "mahout" or "elephant trainer". Riding behind the ears of these magnificent animals was a fantastic experience that we'll never forget! I don't think we stopped smiling from the time we hopped on up (and it was a long hop) til the time we jumped down! After our elephant walk we took a boat to Tad Sae waterfalls which were very nice! Afterwards we settled down for dinner and relaxation while counting down the hours until our next elephant encounter! Not to worry, it came soon enough...the next morning we got up bright and early and picked up our elephants and steered them towards the river for a bath! How cool is that? We bathed elephants! Tracy's elephant got a bit out of hand and decided to go after the villager's sugar cane but we really can't blame her, it was sitting out by the river and tempting her so why not! In the end her elephant brought the contraband sugar cane into the river with her and happily munched away on it while getting a bath.

After our elephant encounter we took a trek through the country side visiting three local villages. Despite the muddy terrain we loved seeing the local kids and beautiful scenery. In all, it was an excellent trip! We both would have loved to have spent more time with the elephants but we were thrilled with the time we had, it was truly an unforgettable experience!

To see more pictures of our mahout training please click here!

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