ELEPHANT TREKKING & TOMO TEMPLATE The area around Ban Kiet Ngong is famed for the vast grassy Xe Pian wetlands, a heaven for birders and once a grazing ground for elephants which used to be a common sight in these plains. Despite their dramatic decline, the elephants play until today a vital role for this community and many families own one or more of them. In earlier times, these pachyderms were working in the logging business, but now adays the villagers` make a modest living with offering elephant riding tours and catfish farming. Not far from Ban Kiet Ngong, villagers built a small temple on a higher sandstone plateau called Phou Asa. Several legends entwine around its origins. The Lao word 'Asa` means 'volunteer'. Once a year in November the local people gather here for worshipping. Phou Asa also offers great views over the Mekong lowlands. The Tomo temple ruins are an interesting archeological site complementing the famous Wat Phou only 11 km away.
We depart at 8:30 from the Green Discovery office in Pakse and drive by local transport or minivan for about 1 hour to Ban Kiet Ngong at the edge of the Xe Pian wetlands and National Protected Area. Here we will meet our elephants! On the back of our elephants we trek for 2 ½ hours to the archeological site of Phou Asa, from where we can also enjoy the beautiful views of the 700 ha Pha Pho wetland, which is rich with bird life. After our elephant riding tour we can still play a bit with the elephants and feed them with some delicious treats. We will take our own lunch at a simple restaurant in the village.
Our next destination is the small, centuries old temple complex 'Tomo'. The ruins of this sacred site date back to the Khmer period and many interesting artefacts are worth to discover. Thereafter we travel to Ban Ngong Bong, a village of the ethnic 'Ta Oy' minority group. These people are famous for their wood carving skills and it is only this village where the old tradition survived until today. After spending some time here and observing the carvers at their artistic work, we return to Pakse in the later afternoon.
Approximately: 2+ hours travel time / 2½ hours elephant riding.