Befriend with Elephants in Yok Don NP
About this experience
Located 40 km away from Buon Ma Thuot city (Dak Lak province in Central Highlands of Vietnam) to the northwest, Yok Don National Park is Vietnam’s second largest national park and the only national park to conserve dry deciduous dipterocarp forests (DDF)* in the country. Stretching 115,000 hectares between the hinge of the Cambodian border and the Serepok River, Yok Don National Park is home to a wealth of wildlife including 89 species of mammals, 305 species of birds, 16 species of amphibians, 48 species of reptiles and 858 species of plants, hundreds of species of freshwater fish and thousands of species of insects. Many of these species are listed in IUCN Redbook.
Out of all the exotic animals, elephants are what Yok Don is best known for. In old days, the area was renowned for elephant hunting and domesticating. Up until just earlier this year, elephant riding was still a part of the tourism activities. Fortunately, with the help of an animal welfare organization, Yok Don elephants’ welfare now comes first. This tour offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the forest in search of the three elephants who were once domesticated and leashed under the ownership of the Park. Now they can freely roam with their fellow wild elephants in their natural habitat.
* DDF are a unique forest ecosystem type harboring a vast variety of important and endemic species.
- Visit the second largest national park in Vietnam with a rich biodiversity.
- Learn the long history of the ethnic minorities in the area
- Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the green forest (full day tour)
- Enjoy the beauty of the park during your trek and observe the elephants in their natural habitat
- Learn about many other species of plants and wildlife inhabiting this forest
Your positive contribution
Supporting animals welfare
In July 2018, with the support of Animals Asia Foundation, Yok Don National Park stopped offering tourism rides with their three elephants and converted to a more elephant friendly model. In this new model, the elephants’ welfare comes first. Visitors observe these intelligent giants of the animal world behaving completely naturally in their own environment. They are free to play, to forage, to interact with each other and to simply be elephants. These tours are the only ethical form of elephant tourism in Vietnam and are fully endorsed by global animal welfare charity, Animals Asia.
Your participation in this tour will encourage such practices among nature reserves and national parks. On the other hand, it will lift the financial burden off from the state budget and ensure wildlife is better taken care of.
* Price: from $32/pax. For the best price, please contact us.
8 a.m / 1.30 p.m: Meeting at Yok Don National Park.
From Yok Don’s guest room, you will trek into the forest using the trail that the rangers often take. Your guide will tell you about each individual elephants’ personality, their background and why they are living in Yok Don. The ethnic minorities in this area have a long history of training and working with elephants and your guide will share these stories too.
During the trek, your guide will share their knowledge of the national park, pointing out many species of plants and wildlife inhabiting in the forest, and showing you the plants used in traditional medicine by some of the local ethnic minority people. One interesting aspect in elephant tracing is that you may encounter signs of the rare wild elephant community within the park, such as their footprints, foraging signs or even dung.
Tour ends at 11 a.m for the morning tour or 4.30 p.m for the afternoon.
✓ Picnic lunch (for full day tour)
✓ English speaking facilitator
✓ National park entrance fee
✓ Drinking water for refill)
✘ Personal expense (extra drinks and snacks)
✘ Extra activities (not included in the itinerary)
✘ Tips via personal support to the community fund
✘ Facilitator in other languages available upon request
- Starting time: 8 a.m (half-say tour) or 7.30 a.m (full-day tour).
- Meeting point: at the meeting guest’s room in Yok Don National Park Management Board Office (a pinpoint of exact location will be sent with our confirmation email).
- What to bring:
- Clothing: appropriate jungle trekking clothes, e.g. long pants/long shorts and a t-shirt. Please no short shorts or visible cleavage as it might be culturally sensitive to some of the ethnic minorities
- Please use appropriate footwear. Flip-flops can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous when hiking in the forest.
- Sunscreen, hat, lotion, mosquito repellent
- We encourage our guests to bring reusable water bottle to refill (drinking water provided at the beginning of the trip)
- Binoculars (optional), as there are plenty of birds and other wildlife to see during your trek.
What's the weather like?
- Dak Lak province has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons. The dry season lasts from November to April next year. It is quite cold, windy, and dry. The rainy season lasts from May to October with high rainy amount.
- Dak Lak’s climate is temperate with the annual average temperature is 24°C. There is a difference of only 5°C between the hottest month and the coldest one.
Where to meet?