Ethical Elephant Tours

alternative Elephant Tourism in Luang Prabang, Laos

Tours

In the realm of nature’s grandest tapestry, one cannot overlook the opportunity to forge a connection with Earth’s most magnificent and gentile giants – the elephants. Within the verdant heart of the jungle, we have crafted elephant tours that allow you to intimately observe and engage with these majestic creatures, fostering a sense of wonder and appreciation for their inherent wisdom.

Our carefully curated encounters ensure that each elephant is respected and ardently cared for, providing a sanctuary for both the animals and visitors alike. As you gently traverse this dense, ethereal terrain, accompanied by the soft sway of an elephant’s stride, you will find yourself enveloped in the natural world’s magnificence as though transported to a long-forgotten epoch.

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Trunk Lessons

Half Day Elephant experience

Tour Code: HD-01

08:00 – 08:30 or 13:00 – 13:30 pick you up from your Hotel/GH

12:30 – 13:00 or 16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

 Tour program

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale” & get an introduction on elephant’s facts & behaviour while enjoying coffee or Tea
  • Meet our elephants to get a personal introduction on our grey-giant “Team”
  • Bath, brush and splash in the water with them, act like a real Mahout.
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial style decorated “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town

$59 USD/ pax

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Giants in the River

Half Day SUP/Kayak & Elephant experience Combination

Tour code: HD-05

08:00 – 08:30 or 13:00 – 13:30 your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

12:30 – 13:00 or 16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

 Tour program

  • Arrive with our air-conditioned minibus at the village Ban En & switch to a motorboat to visit the Tad Sae Waterfall and enjoy the natural side (In the dry season from February to July/August, the Tad Sae Waterfall usually dries up, but even then it is still a place of unique appeal with mature trees)
  • Get a briefing on our Kayaks or SUP Paddle-boards
    Paddle downstream the most beautiful part of the Nam Khan River to the “Chateau Orientale” Resort
  • Get an introduction on elephant facts & behaviour before you get in contact with our “Elephant Team”
  • Meet, brush and enjoy your time with our elephants
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial style decorated “Chateau Orientale” Restaurant
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town, hotel/GH

$99 USD/ pax

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Dive in Nature

Half day beginner E-Mountain biking & Elephant experience Combination

Tour code: HD-06

08:00 – 08:30 or 13:00 – 13:30, your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

12:30 – 13:00 or 16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

 Tour program

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale” & get an introduction to elephants’ facts & behavior while enjoying coffee or Tea
  • Meet our elephants, take your time to play, splash water, or take pictures with them
  • Choose and get a briefing on your selected E-Mountain bike
  • Drive a beautiful off-road loop with several rivers crossing, visit a traditional Khmu & Hmong Village, and explore the hidden Tad Kuang Son waterfall
  • Explore non-touristic stunning landscapes including jungle & local villages out of the beaten track.
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial style decorated “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
    Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town, hotel/ GH

$99 USD/ pax

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The buffalo hunter

Full Day Elephant experience & medium E-Mountain biking Combination

Tour code: FD-03

08:00 – 08:30 your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

(This expedition ushers you through a fleeting encounter with the enigmatic “Ghost Valley” – a primordial haven that harbors an ancient cavern, serving as a resplendent testament to a captivating epoch in the Earth’s chronicles.)

 Tour program

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale” enjoying coffee or Tea
  • Bath, brush, and splash in the water with them; act like a real Mahout.
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial-style decorated “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
  • Choose and get a briefing on your selected E-Mountain bike
  • Leave of for the first stunning part with your E-bike by crossing the Nam Khan River by boat to start your bike adventure.
  • Continue your tour on a dirt road through beautiful scenery, visit a traditional Khmu village & the hidden Tad Kuang Son waterfall
  • Explore non-touristic stunning landscapes including jungle and limestone cliffs & local villages out of the beaten track.
  • Visit the “Ghost Valley,” an interesting geological site valley with marvelous limestone formations & the so-called “Ghost Cave,” a cave formed hundreds of million years ago and once a shelter of the village community.
  • End up your exciting e-mountain bike excursion by the Tad Sae waterfall, where you have time to swim. (In the dry season from February to July/August, the Tad Sae Waterfall usually dries up, but even then, it is still a place of unique appeal with mature trees)
  • Returning to the starting point by a 20 min motor boat trip downstream, the most beautiful part of the Nam Khan River to the “Chateau Orientale” Resort
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town

$120 USD/ pax

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The hidden elephant mountains

Full Day SUP/Kayak & Elephant experience Combination

Tour code: FD-04

08:00 – 08:30 your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

 Tour program

  • Arrive with our air-conditioned minibus at the village Ban En & switch to a motorboat to visit the Tad Sae Waterfall and enjoy the natural side. (In the dry season from February to July/August, the Tad Sae Waterfall usually dries up, but even then, it is still a place of unique appeal with mature trees)
  • Get a briefing on our Kayaks or SUP Paddle-boards
  • Paddle downstream the most beautiful part of the Nam Khan River to the “Chateau Orientale” Resort
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial-style decorated “Chateau Orientale” Restaurant
  • Get an introduction to elephant facts & behavior before you get in contact with our “Elephant Team”
  • Meet, brush, and enjoy your time with our elephants
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town, hotel/GH

$99 USD/ pax

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The thumb rock excursion

Full day Elephant experience, medium E-Mountain biking & SUP/Kayak Combination

Tour code: FD-05

08:00 – 08:30 your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

(This expedition ushers you through a fleeting encounter with the enigmatic “Ghost Valley” – a primordial haven that harbors an ancient cavern, serving as a resplendent testament to a captivating epoch in the Earth’s chronicles.)

 Tour program

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale” & get an introduction to elephant’s facts & behavior while enjoying coffee or Tea
    • Meet our elephants to get a personal introduction to our grey-giant “Team”
    • Bath, brush, and splash in the water with them; act like a real Mahout.
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial-style decorated “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
  • Choose and get a briefing on your selected E-Mountain bike
  • Leave off for the first stunning part with your E-bike by crossing the Nam Khan River by boat to start your bike adventure.
  • Continue your tour on a dirt road through beautiful scenery, visit a traditional Khmu village & the hidden Tad Kuang Son waterfall
  • Explore non-touristic stunning landscapes, including jungle and limestone cliffs & local villages out of the beaten track.
  • Visit briefly the “Ghost” Valley, a geological interesting site with marvelous limestone formations formed hundreds of million years ago.
  • End up your exciting e-mountain bike excursion by the Tad Sae waterfall, where you have time to swim. (In the dry season from February to July/August, the Tad Sae Waterfall usually dries up, but even then, it is still a place of unique appeal with mature trees)
  • Get a briefing on our Kayaks or SUP Paddle-boards
  • Paddle downstream the most beautiful part of the Nam Khan River to the “Chateau Orientale” Resort
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town, hotel/GH

$150 USD/ pax

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Calm down

Full Day Elephant experience & Hilltribe encounter

Tour code: FD-07

08:00 – 08:30 or 13:00 – 13:30 pick you up from your Hotel/GH

12:30 – 13:00 or 16:30 – 17:00 transfer back to your Hotel/GH

 Tour program

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale” & get an introduction to elephant facts & behavior while enjoying coffee or Tea
  • Meet our elephants to get a personal introduction to our grey-giant “Team”
  • Bath, brush, and splash in the water with them; act like a real Mahout.
  • Enjoy lunch in the colonial-style decorated “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
  • Trek through rice fields, teak plantations, and jungle to a Khmu hill tribe village & return
  • Our air-conditioned minibus will deliver you back to town

$89 USD/ pax

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The elephant whisperer

Two Day medium E-Mountain biking, SUP/Kayak, Elephant experience & Village encounter combo include overnight in the “Chateau Orientale Resort”

Tour code: TD-03

08:00 – 08:30 Your guide will pick you up from your Hotel/GH

12:30 – 13:30 next day transfer back to your Hotel/GH

(This expedition ushers you through a fleeting encounter with the enigmatic “Ghost Valley” – a primordial haven that harbors an ancient cavern, serving as a resplendent testament to a captivating epoch in the Earth’s chronicles.)

 Tour program

Day 1:

  • Arrive via our comfortable air-conditioned minibus at the tropical Garden of “Chateau Orientale”
  • Choose and get a briefing on your selected E-Mountain bike
  • Leave off for the first stunning part with your E-bike by crossing the Nam Khan River by boat to start your bike adventure.
  • Continue your tour on a dirt road through beautiful scenery, visit a traditional Khmu village & the hidden Tad Kuang Son waterfall
  • Explore non-touristic stunning landscapes, including jungle and limestone cliffs & local villages out of the beaten track.
  • Visit the “Ghost Valley,” an interesting geological site valley with marvelous limestone formations & the so-called “Ghost Cave,” a cave formed hundreds of million years ago and once a shelter of the village community.
  • End up your exciting e-mountain bike excursion by the Tad Sae waterfall, where you have time to swim. (In the dry season from February to July/August, the Tad Sae Waterfall usually dries up, but even then, it is still a place of unique appeal with mature trees)
  • Get a briefing on our Kayaks or SUP Paddle-boards
  • Paddle downstream the most beautiful part of the Nam Khan River to the “Chateau Orientale” Resort
  • Get rest, Immerse yourself in nature
  • Dinner & overnight in the “Chateau Orientale Resort”

Day 2:

  • After breakfast, get an introduction to elephant’s facts & behavior
  • Wash, brush & splash water on your elephant. Take your time. Act like a real Mahout!
  • Enjoy lunch in the beautiful “Chateau Oriental” Restaurant
  • Back to town, hotel/GH

$230 USD/ pax

All tours include:

Key points to keep in mind

All of our tours are designated as “join tours,” meaning that they are intended for group participation. If you find yourself as the sole participant on a particular booking day, please note that a surcharge of $20 per day and reservation will apply.

For the river excursion, we recommend bringing the following items:

  • A swimsuit
  • A dry bag to protect your belongings
  • Sturdy footwear, such as boots or sports shoes that can get wet
  • A hat and sunscreen for protection against the sun’s rays

Please be aware that during the rainy season, our bike, trek, and elephant trails may require alternate routes due to weather or river conditions in order to prioritize your safety.

Cancellation policy

Discover more about the origins of our elephant-focused experiences

I  fell in love with elephants and started to take them from the logging industry to work with tourists in 2002 with my former company Tiger Trail. During this time, many local business people would not give me a chance. There had been others who started before me and had offered private rides at the Tad Kuang Si waterfall, however they had to stop because of lack of tourists. What made my idea different, was that I established a camp in the beautiful landscape of Ban Xieng Lom on the riverbanks of the Nam Khan river, and I sold the rides in combination with bicycle & Kayak tours. 

This was the key to its success. 

Please Note: During this time, (over 15 years ago just as Laos was opening to tourism), offering Elephant rides was the only to get tourists interested and therefore the only way to get elephants out of the logging industry. It was and still is, extremely cost intensive to look after elephants and so money had to be raised so that we could support their new lives in comfort.

Nowadays the situation has changed for the better and elephant rides are not attractive any more. Luckily, many travelers are now much more interested in supporting businesses with an ethical background. Therefore, it was a logical move that I, after Elephant Village where we sold in this time only rides, started with an entirely no riding concept under the name of MandaLao.

While the market has shifted towards a pure “no riding” philosophy, I have seen the effect on the local culture that this is having. I noticed that the bond and traditions between mahout (elephant rider) and elephant, was slowly disappearing.“Chateau Orientale” has decided to go in a different direction. Instead of banning our mahouts from riding their elephants, we are comfortable to let them continue their traditional ways. Whilst we ban the use of the bull hook and any physical forms of control, we believe that riding creates a strong bond.

We hope that this can filter down to newer generations of mahout to create a much more gentle form of elephant ownership that can last for generations.

I can say without any doubt: After 20 years working with elephants in the tourism industry in Luang Phabang; the team of “Chateau Oriental” can call itself not only the first, but also the most experienced company in this field.

Elephant tours Luang Prabang 3

Markus Peschke

Founder of "Chateau Orientale"​

WHY CHATEAU ORIENTALE DOESN’T WANT TO OWN OUR ELEPHANTS...

Chateau Orientale does not want to own our elephants because we strongly believe that it would destroy centuries old knowledge and the intimate relationship that exists between the Mahout (owner of the elephant) and the elephant themselves.

This is because Laotian elephants are handed down generation after generation and we think that this is a special bond that should not be broken.

We give them alternative work within tourism, which benefits both the mahout and the elephants, by giving them a safe and secure environment to live in, safe from the logging industry and the dangers of ever increasing human habitation.

WHY WE CHAIN OUR ELEPHANTS

We understand that this can be a delicate issue when people see such a majestic animal as the elephant chained up.

Therefore we think that it is appropriate to explain some of the reasons why we along with many other elephant camps, have to do this for the well being of our elephants and the local population.

Usually after around 3 pm, we will often use a 30 to 40 meter long chain in areas covered with grass and bamboo. We rent these areas from the local population and therefore must respect their requests when renting the land.

For example, when chained up:

In order to prove that we have the welfare of our elephants as our best interested, you are free to visit Asian Elephant Support to see what the experts say on this matter.

Kindly provide the necessary information to confirm your booking