Luang Prabang has always been my favourite city to visit in Laos. This last visit was exceptionally special and I have to give thanks to MandaLao for the memorable time.
MandaLao is not your typical elephant camp or sanctuary. They offer no rides or tricks. What they do offer is far more rewarding and lasting- education and an intimate experience. Visitors get to observe the elephants in their natural habitat where they are free-- no hooks, no chains.
I was lucky enough to get my own private tour with 2 adult elephants (benefits to going off-season and in the afternoon I suppose!) where I got to help prepare some special digestive treats (bananas stuffed with sea salt and tamarind and sticky rice with sea salt), which then I got to feed to them along side a wholeeee lot more bananas! The fun didn't stop there- as we continued on a 1.5km trek up the jungle with them. After the hike I was greeted by one of the owners, Greg, who was incredibly welcoming and who radiated with passion when talking about the vision and goals of MandaLao. Johnny (Ny), who was my guide was also fantastic and truly made my experience something to never forget.
I'm looking forward to my next visit with them and will definitely be including a visit back here every time I am in Luang Prabang! I don't want to turn this post into a fact sheet but I will leave off by saying I wish everyone could experience what I got to. And I mean everyone- now and later. This won't be possible for our future generations if we don't act now to protect and expand the elephant population; at the current rate they will vanish in 25 years...
To learn more about MandaLao and the current elephant crisis, check out this great article CNN did here.
MandaLao also just launched a new initiative to conserve and expand wild elephant populations in Laos-- if this is something you want to be part of and help, please visit and donate here.