Lak lake, located in Lien Son, Lak district, about 52 km south of Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak province, is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful and largest fresh water lakes.
Surrounded by primeval forests, the lake is a popular eco-tourist site. It is also closely associated with the many legends of the local M’nong ethnic people.
It covers 500 ha and is about 500m above sea level. From afar, the lake looks like a soft silk strait adding to the charm of the central highlands mountain.
The lake is surrounded with primeval forests featuring a wide variety of flora and fauna species, many of them listed in the Red Book. A large number of tamed elephants live around the lake. The scene of mahouts riding elephants around the lake and on the streets or elephants swimming in the lake attracts lots of tourists.
Nguyen Manh Ha, a tourist from Hai Phong, said tourists to Lak lake are offered a variety of services. They can ride an elephant or row a wooden boat around the lake. They can also visit the villages of the M’Nong or go deep into the forests.
In addition to exploring the lake’s natural beauty, visitors to Lak lake can also discover the traditional culture of the M’Nong and their elephant taming work.
Three generations of Dam Nang Long’s family have involved in taming elephants and Long has the largest number of them in Lak lake. Long said the central highlanders in general and the M’Nong in particular love elephants very much and consider them a symbol of power and prosperity for their clans and families
After being tamed, the elephants will go to the village and an admission ceremony will be held to welcome them. From then on they become new members of the family, and are named according to a member of the family. According to M’Nong tradition, the elephants share their love and have the right to the family’s property. They will be buried after they die, Long added.
The M’Nong organize a lot of ceremonies and festivals each year to show their love for their animals including a village admission ceremony and prayers for the elephant health. In particular, the elephant racing festival attracts a lot of tourists. The bravery and strength of M’nong men are reflected in the festival.
The long house of the M’nong is also an attraction for the tourists. Furniture in the house such as the ancient Kpal bench, H’gor drums, gongs and jars tells stories about their traditional culture and customs.
Jun and M’Lieng are M’nong hamlets which still retain many traditional customs including the craft of brocade weaving. Performances of traditional dances, gong and other traditional musical instruments as well as the local cuisines make the tour of villages around Lak lake even more tempting.