Free the Bears Laos with Alex Cearns 2020

A fundraising trip to Laos for the Free the Bears with acclaimed wildlife photographer Alex Cearns.

Challenge Highlights

  • Travel with award winning animal photographer ALEX CEARNS
  • ***$500 per person donation to Free the Bears
  • Behind the scenes access working at Free the Bears sanctuaries
  • Spend time in the jewel of Asia, Luang Prabang
  • Visit the stunning Kuang Xi Falls in the Kuang Xi National Park

Overview

This fantastic journey gives you the unique opportunity to get behind the scenes with the bears, helping out with the daily running of Free the Bears sanctuaries in Laos. We will have a chance to go behind the scenes at the sanctuary and see first hand the incredible work being done by Free The Bears, not to mention get up close and personal with the very bears we are helping support and directly contribute to their well being. Acclaimed award winning animal photographer ALEX CEARNS will be joining the journey to help teach you how to get the most out of your animal photography.

Of all the Indo-China countries, Laos is one of the few places that still remains delightfully authentic, where development is still at arms length and where the pace of life moves as slowly as the Mekong River that passes through these lands.

We visit the ancient city of Luang Prabang with its colourful pre-French colonisation architecture and home to many UNESCO sites such as the Wat Xieng Thong temple, as well as donating our time to help out with the day to day running of the Bear rehabilitation centre.

This is a very unique opportunity to be involved with this wonderful organisations, striving to enrich the lives of the bears. $500 of the trip cost will be donated to Free the Bears.

Itinerary

Upon arrival in Luang Prabang you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the duration of your stay in Laos. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy the surroundings until we get together this afternoon for a trip briefing with your guide and enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Overnight- Luang Prabang View Hotel- Superior Room

Meals:  D

Over the next 3 days we will enjoy a full breakfast at our hotel before we head to the new Free the Bears Luang Prabang Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary was opened in 2017 and provides a home to not only rescued bears but also for other rescued and endangered wildlife including macaques, leopard cats, tortoises, birds, civets, and even red pandas intercepted after being smuggled from China into Laos. With a record 10 bear rescues in Laos in 2017 and then 13 in 2018 (more than 70 bear rescues in Laos), Free the Bears are building bear houses as quickly as they can. Construction of a cub nursery, quarantine house and additional bear enclosures are already underway. In 2019 they have already completed the third Bear House and a Wildlife Hospital, with plans for an additional 2 bear houses, a carnivore enclosure and a holding house for pangolins and reptiles prior to release. Whilst at the sanctuary we will be introduced to the bears and provide some background information about the ongoing work being done by Free the Bears in Laos, before joining the bears enrichment program and helping with the upkeep of the sanctuary. During our time here we will also have an opportunity to photograph the bears and other wildlife from a behind the scenes perspective. Each afternoon we will travel back to Luang Prabang. Overnight- Luang Prabang View Hotel- Superior Room

Meals:  B,L

Today we take a break from our volunteering at the sanctuaries and explore the stunning UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. We travel by local tuk tuk and walking. Luang Prabang is the incredibly well-preserved ancient capital of the Lao Kingdom, a religious and imperial capital of the past. Wedged between the Mekong and Khan rivers, it has been nominated as a World Heritage site and is famous for its many Wats (temples) - 32 of the 66 that were built before French colonisation still stand. All of them are well kept and in use, with numerous monks in residence. Today we will explore the National Museum, Wat Mai, Wat Xiengthong and the Living Crafts centre to meet the weavers and learn about textiles before making our way to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre to learn about the various minority communities. We will finish the day with an optional climb of the 328 steps to Phousi Hill to enjoy the stunning views. Tonight we will enjoy a group dinner and can visit the Luang Prabang Night Market. Overnight- Luang Prabang View Hotel- Superior Room

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we drive South to the Free the Bears Sanctuary at the stunning Kuang Xi National Park, home to the famous Kuang Xi Waterfalls. After meeting with the team and bears we will join the bear enrichment program over the next two days. We return to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. Overnight- Luang Prabang View Hotel- Superior Room

Meals:  B,L

After breakfast, we make our way to the Free the Bears Sanctuary again but today we will also enjoy a walk around the waterfalls and a swim in the stunning natural pools. Today is our last day at the Sanctuary, after our days work we will say goodbye to the team and return to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon before heading to our farewell dinner at a local restaurant and enjoy a traditional Lao dance show. Overnight- Luang Prabang View Hotel- Superior Room

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we have breakfast at the hotel and then enjoy some free time until it is time to transfer to the airport for our flight back home.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • $500 donation to the Free the Bears
  • photography guidance and expertise provided by Alex Cearns
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 3 dinners
  • Free The Bears representative at the sanctuary visits
  • Expert local bilingual guide
  • Medical kit
  • Good Hotels on a twin share basis
  • Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary

What's Not Included

  • Visas and visa fees
  • Meals & beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Personal expenses such as bar, telephone and laundry bills
  • Tips and gratuities
  • International flights ex Australia including airline tax and fuel surcharges

What You Carry

  • You will need to be able to carry your own luggage for 5-10 minutes at a time on and off transport and to and from hotels.

Travel Dates

Other Challenge Costs

Optional Single Supplement:USD$420 

Videos

Photographer Alex Cearns meets ChamPa the Moon Bear

Fast Facts

Trip Dates: DepartReturn
 9 May 202016 May 2020
Duration:8 Days
Activities:Work at the Bear Sanctuary
Grade:Introductory  Click for more information
Trip Code:FB7
Travel Cost:USD$0