Thursday, June 14, 2012

Luang Prabang: Elephant Village Sanctuary

On Tuesday, Rachael and I visited the Elephant Village Sanctuary.  A.MAZ.ING.  We both super SUPER recommend this place.  If you ever go to Luang Prabang, there are many, many elephant companies, but this was hands down the best one we came into contact with, and after talking to many other visitors, everyone we met said the same.  Its a great company with a fantastic cause - truly inspiring, educational, and WAY fun.  The excursions can be booked at the company office on the main street in Luang Prabang.  It cost us $42 each for a half day with the elephants, and included everything - transport, water, elephant ride into the river, fantastic lunch, time to wander around the grounds, a boat trip to a waterfall, etc.  The day we went was raining, but it didn't get in the way of an absolutely phenomenal experience.  Probably both of our favorite adventure of the trip.. and maybe life!

And without more adieu, here's what our day with the elephants looked like!
Here is our friend, in all her glory! (Notice the large deposit on the left she made especially for us)
The fuzzy nature of this picture is because it was pouring rain so I was trying to hold an umbrella AND take a picture AND hold on for dear life as we headed straight down the river embankment.  This was before we had developed our sense of balance and we both saw our lives flash in front of our lives...  meanwhile, our Mahout (elephant driver) was singing away and laughing like it was the most relaxed moment of his life.
Wading into the river... wow.
We climbed up onto a little island in the middle of the river to stop for a photo op.  FYI, our Mahout  got OFF of our elephant to take these pics.
Coolest location for foot photo yet?  Very possibly!
Trekking.. it was about here that our Mahout asked us if we wanted to ride on the NECK of the elephant..  My answer was.....

Why YES I do!! :)
Phenomenal.  I thought this was the coolest thing... but the next thing I knew, the Mahout had crawled back on the elephant, but got into my old seat next to Rachael.  So the next thing I knew...
I was riding the elephant back into the river!  wow. wow. wow.

Here we are coming back into camp.  Rachael and I switched out, and our Mahout stayed happy as a pea in the seat!

After an amazing ride, we got to give our lady some banana treats!  Our gal only liked to be fed in the corner of her mouth, so you had to stick your hand right up in there.

This is my hand INSIDE the elephant's mouth.  A Mahout (not OUR Mahout who would never do such a thing) thought it would be funny to stick in all the way in there.  I may have peed my pants.
But we both survived and stayed friends.
Another elephant asking for more treats.  This one liked to be fed by her trunk.
Well hello!

After our elephant was fed and happy, we headed off for our next adventure for the day - a boat ride on the river!  The scenery was just stunningly gorgeous.  It was almost painful to be seeing it in person - so much to take in - the mountains disappearing into the clouds, the jungle, the river...
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On the boat!  We had a little family from Australia join us - it was inspiring to see parents who were willing to take them on such an adventure.  Those kids are truly going to grow up with an amazing worldview.

Destination of our boat ride: beautiful cascades.

What a lovely, lovely day.

1 comment:

Lincoln & Anjane' said...

This is amazing Haley! I am already making all sorts of travel plans for Lincoln and I when he becomes a doctor. ;) By the way, Kylee (our two-year-old) was looking at these pictures and wanted to know when you are coming to visit us here in Mexico. Ha ha. You are always welcome to. I'm sure you could show us all sorts of things that we don't even know are here!