I left Paklay on my second full day of travel in Lao with little fanfare. I didn’t record any type of intro into my travel, I just wanted to get on my bike and ride.
It’s remarkable country there in the west of the Lao PDR, and now, at the end of the monsoon season, it’s about as green as a place can be.
It wasn’t that long of a ride from Paklay to Xayabouri, so when I got there, I had plenty of energy to go look for local tourist spots. A quick look at the travel websites and I knew I had to go visit the elephant protection sanctuary. It’s not an elephant park; it’s not a place where tourists can feed bananas to tethered elephants, perhaps wash them, and certainly ride them – no, this place is about letting elephants live as close to their wild roots as possible.
As I arrived without a prior booking, I couldn’t see the elephants. This isn’t a place that accepts walk up tourists, and when you see the road it takes to get there, you’ll see why. In any case, after my arduous journey there, I had a nice conversation with Celine, the coordinator of the reserve. I learned that that their goal is NOT to release these elephants back into the wild. There are perhaps a couple hundred of wild elephants left in Lao, and their population is suffering under a lot of pressure. Adding new members to a population facing shrinking resources would be counter-productive.
Myanmar, on the other hand, has about 5000 elephants still living in the wild. A valuable resource that needs protecting.
Enjoy the video.