Our Elephants

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:


  • Our elephants have much easier access to be able to "graze" which is something that they do in their natural environment. That is to say, we make it easier for them to have access to the nutritious food they need constantly.
  • As per our rental agreements, we need to change the locations where we need to make sure that our elephants don’t always wander into local farmland and destroy crops etc.
  • Using a chain is preferable to keeping them chained, because it gives them more freedom to move and keeps them away from their own waste.
  • As mentioned briefly before, the main reason we need to keep our elephants chained up, is because we have to make sure that not only our elephants our safe and happy, but the locals are too. Elephants are strong creatures and if left to their own devices, would find the nearest farmland and eat an entire years worth of crops, leaving local villages devastated.

In order to prove that we have the welfare of our elephants as our best interested, you are free to visit asianelephantsupport.org/uses-for-chains/ to see what the experts say on this matter.


Elephant trekking route and night time area

See our 2 day and 3 day tours to night trek with our elephants


Working With Elephants

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.


What Makes Us Different?


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 still ban tourist rides, 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.


To be 100% clear: We do not, nor will we ever have riding as a tour, but we will always allow our mahouts to keep their connection with their elephants.


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.

Markus Peschke

Markus Peschke

Founder "Chateau Orientale"

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COVID-19 UPDATE

Dear friends and partners,

As you are aware, the rate of Covid-19 infection remains low in Laos and the lockdown has been lifted last Monday, allowing most businesses to resume their normal activities.

Feel safe and secure at Chateau Orientale

We have used this lockdown period to step up precautionary measures throughout our policies and procedures and to implement a comprehensive staff training to make sure that our guests and team members can continue to feel safe and secure at Chateau Orientale. 

Our new working practices are based on WHO’s recommendations, as well as government policies, in particular directives 142 and 143 of May 3rd, 2020.