NEW Trip – Kyrgyzstan & the Tian Shan MountainsJoin 19 August 2024 Departure

8 Days$2790USD

  • Volunteer work
  • Sightseeing
  • Day walks
  • 7 nights in a 5 star boutique resort
  • 3 Dinners
  • 6 Lunches
  • 7 Breakfasts

Traveller Rating



Trip 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

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.

Trip Code: FB7

Welcome to Laos. Our base in Luang Prabang. will be the five star, boutique 'Kiridara Hotel'. 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. After we visit the Luang Prabang Night Market. NOTE: We will nominate one group flight for the arrival transfer on day 1, if you are arriving outside of this flight time/date, we can arrange a private transfer at an additional cost. Overnight: Kiridara Hotel

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 more than 80 bear rescues in Laos since 2017 (more than 120 bear rescues in Laos since 2003), Free the Bears are building bear houses as quickly as they can. Construction of a cub nursery, quarantine house and Wildlife Hospital have already been supported through previous World Expeditions visits, with a further seven bear houses and thirteen spacious forest enclosures completed to date. 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: Kiridara Hotel

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. Another visit to the Luang Prabang Night Market for those who wish to go back for another look or shop. Evening and dinner at leisure. Overnight: Kiridara Hotel

Meals:  B,L

Deeply rooted in the foundations of Buddhism and local folklore, elephants have attained an almost mythical status across much of their ancestral lands. Laos became known as the “Land of One Million Elephants” or “Lan Xang” from fabled accounts of a procession of them crossing the Mekong River not far from Luang Prabang. By all accounts humans and elephants have worked side-by-side in the region for nearly 2000 years. Ranging from 4 to over 60 years of age, MandaLao’s elephants have spent the majority of their lives working together in logging camps and and low welfare tourist attractions. With new regulations limiting logging operations across Laos, and concern over elephant welfare, we have been able to bring these amazing creatures home to where we offer them a dignified and comfortable life in harmony with nature. You will trek through the jungle alongside two adult elephants, surrounded by jungle streams and luscious rice fields as you trek (2.5km round trip). Once your trek is completed, a delicious lunch will follow at the MandaLao property. We return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon. Tonight we will enjoy a group dinner at Secret Pizza. Overnight: Kiridara Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we make our way to the Kuang Xi Free the Bears Sanctuary 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: Kiridara Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. We will have one nominated group departure transfer. If you are flying at a different time, or extending your stay in Luang Prabang we will be happy to assist with other arrangements.

Meals:  B


  • $500 donation to the Free the Bears
  • Photography guidance and expertise provided by Alex Cearns
  • 7 nights in a five star hotel on twin share basis
  • Jungle walk with elephants
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 3 dinners
  • One group arrival transfer on day 1 and one group departure transfer on day 8
  • Free The Bears representative at the sanctuary visits
  • Expert local bilingual guide
  • Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary

  • Travel to/from Luang Prabang
  • Visa
  • Personal travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Personal expenses such as bar, telephone and laundry bills
  • Meals & beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities

About Your Leader

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER ALEX CEARNS is one of Australia's most awarded and widely published pet, animal and wildlife portrait photographers. Her natural animal handling skills, outstanding images and substantial contribution to improving the lives of rescued animals and endangered wildlife has earned her the reputation as one of Australia’s best and most trusted animal photographers. She photographs around 1300 animals per year. Alex is a dynamic keynote speaker and workshop facilitator with engaging humour and a warm personality. Her thriving business Houndstooth Studio is a leader in the specialised niche market of premium domestic and commercial pet and animal photography.

“We are proud that our images help make a difference to the lives and welfare of rescued animals. The right image viewed by the right person can mean a dog is re-homed, a donation is made, or that media will run with a story that increases awareness or raises public concern for a cause that directly affects the welfare of the animal.” Alex Cearns


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Options & Supplements*
  • Single supplement - Free the Bears LaosUSD$630
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Free the Bears Laos with Alex Cearns trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Our vision is to leave the world a better place by following our sustainable active outdoor travel charter. All our adventures are 100% carbon offset and our Regenerative 2030 Project aims to integrate ‘regenerative’ projects into every one of our global operations by 2030.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.


Photographer Alex Cearns meets ChamPa the Moon Bear

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