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Overview

Travel to Laos visit a unique selection of parks and habitats for a chance to see a tiger in the wild. Explore remote rivers by boat, venture into cave systems and see beautiful waterfalls. Conclude this amazing trip with an overnight stay in Luang Prabang, the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Trip Highlights

Into The Wild

Venture into the backcountry

Explore quiet rivers, see waterfalls and historically significant caves

Spot nocturnal animals

Float downriver with the engines off and see endangered species in their natural habitat

Visit rural villages

See the backcountry life in Laos and end this tour in beautiful Luang Prabang

Itinerary

1

Arrive Viengxay – Sam Neua

Border – Viengxay: 2 hours Viengxay – Sam Neua (32km) 1 hour

Upon arrival to the border and after completing customs formalities, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport (2 hours by car) to Viengxay.

Upon arrival, explore Viengxay, a town featuring hundreds of caves which acted as a shelter during the Vietnam/American War. Between 1964 and 1973, when Laos was caught up in the middle of the conflict, more than 20,000 people lived in a 'hidden city' they built inside these limestone caves.

Take an audio tour learning all about this hidden city, including interviews from locals who lived during the period.

Overnight in Sam Neua

2

Viengxay – Sam Neua – Viengthong

Sam Neua – Vieng Thong (150km) 3.5h

After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a short city tour of Sam Neua and stop at the market selling stunning Houaphanh textiles and other unique local creations.

After the visit, start the drive to Viengthong. Lunch at a local restaurant on the way.

Upon arrival in Vieng Thong, visit the visitor centre of Nam Et Phou Louey and get an overview about the National Protected Area and the tourism project.

Nam Et–Phou Louey (pronounced “naam et poo loo-ee”) National Protected Area (NPA) is located in the north-east of Lao PDR. With an area of 4,229 km2, it is the largest of Laos’ national parks, covering seven districts and three provinces (Houaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang provinces). Mostly hilly or mountainous, it is the source of many rivers. It is named after its two main features, the Nern and Et Rivers and Phou Louey Mountain (“Forever Mountain”). The area has primary forest remaining in many areas, a high level of biodiversity, and a number of endangered species including tiger, gaur, Sambar deer, and white-cheeked gibbon.

The rest of the day at your leisure. Close to the Visitor Center is the School Forest Hiking Trail - a forest handed to the local school and students to protect as a real life learning exercise in conservation, first of its kind in Laos. The trail is free and open to visitors.

It takes about one hour to do the short trail and three hours to do the longer one.

Overnight in Viengthong

3

Nam Nern Night Safari

Vieng Thong – Ban Son Koua (50 km) 1 hour

After breakfast, depart for the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA (National Protected Area).

Upon arrival at Ban Son Koua, guides and local boatmen will be waiting to provide a short tour of the village. Continue with a 1.5 hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River by longtail boat. Along the way, spot local wildlife and learn about the region’s rice cultivation.

After arriving at the park substation, enjoy a lunch prepared by the village cooking group. After lunch, receive a briefing by park staff about the on‐the‐ground efforts in protecting tigers and their prey. Around the middle of the afternoon, depart for the night safari.

You will then be shown to your accommodation, bamboo huts close to the river. Free time to relax at the camp.

Optional: The National Park’s guide will invite you on an optional jungle walk around the camp to learn about the use of medicinal plants and the history of the camp site, which was once a village. Depending on the ranger availability, the park substation can be visited to learn about the law enforcement work.

Continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank where a picnic dinner will be held along a campfire. After dinner, the guides will tell Khmu folktales and explain the different animals seen during the night safari.

Depending on the amount of moonlight, depart for the night spotlighting 1-2 hours after dark, floating silently down river with engines off.  Animals that may be seen include Sambar Deer, Otters, Barking Deer, various species of Civets, Slow Loris, Porcupine and Owls.

At the end of the spotlighting, the boats arrive at the evening camp. Before going to bed, check out a variety of insects attracted to the black light set up near the substation.

Overnight in Nam Nern

4

Nam Nern – Nong Khiaw

Nam Nern – Nong Khiaw (210 km): 4 hours

Before breakfast, head out with the local guide for a walk around the jungle, learning about the use of medicinal plants and also hearing a bit of history of the area from during the Secret War. After breakfast, the boats float back to the village at a relaxing pace with engines off, pointing out birds along the way.

Upon arrival in the village, sample some earthen jar rice wine (lao hai). Before departing, fill out a wildlife monitoring form that is used to monitor wildlife abundance and indicate the amount of bonuses put into the village development fund from the tour costs. This is one of the keys to the success of the project because locals are therefore incentivized to preserve the wildlife and the habitat.

Please note: Though it is quite rare, if groups are lucky enough to spot a tiger, it may be asked to  pay an additional 1,800,000 Kip (roughly $225) per sighting per group.

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue driving approximately 4 hours to the sleepy town of Nong Khiaw. Arrive late afternoon and the remainder of the day is free at leisure.

Overnight in Nong Khiaw

5

Nong Khiaw – Luang Prabang

Nong Khiaw – Nam Ou dam by car (70 km): 2,5 hours Nam Ou dam – Luang Prabang by boat (50 km): 2 hours

After breakfast, travel by car towards Luang Prabang. Upon reaching the dam, board a boat for the cruise down the spectacular Nam Ou River, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way.

Stop for a visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, located at the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong rivers. Locally referred to as Tam Ting, these two caves are carved out of towering limestone cliffs and contain thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues. Continue downstream for another 2 hours to Luang Prabang.

(Note: there is an option to drive from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang, taking approximately 2.5 hours but this does not allow a stop at the Pak Ou Caves)

Just prior to dusk, climb the stairs of Mount Phousi and watch the sun set over the city and surrounding hills.  Transfer back the hotel, stopping along the way at the hill tribe evening market for some shopping.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

6

Luang Prabang – City Tour

After breakfast, embark on a guided tour of Luang Prabang. Begin with a visit to Wat Visoun, the holiest temple of the city, followed by the 16th century Wat Aham and Wat That, where the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are kept inside the large central stupa.

Continue the day tour with a visit to the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, learning all about local hill tribes in Laos.

Enjoy lunch at Tamarind Restaurant, one of the most celebrated eateries in Luang Prabang (included).

In the afternoon, begin touring at the former Royal Palace, now home to the National Museum, offering a unique display on the history of Laos. Continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish this morning’s tour at Wat Xieng Thong, the most revered temple in Luang Prabang. Located at the end of the peninsula, this temple was built in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is decorated with ornate carvings and mosaics.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

7

Luang Prabang – Kuang Si Waterfall – Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang – Kuang Si Waterfalls (32 km): 45 min

For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms.  As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people.  Return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, the guide will provide a hotel pickup for the short transfer through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. The road out is illustrated by beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills and small villages.

Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfall, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings. The jungle and dense woods surrounding the falls are perfect for exploring on foot. For the adventurous type, walk to the top of the falls for some amazing panoramic views.

At the base of the falls, there is also the opportunity to swim in the turquoise pools below.

Note: if bathing, please wear a sarong to avoid showing too much skin.

There is an optional visit on the road back to the Free the Bears Fund, a sanctuary housing 23 Asiatic Bears rescued from poachers. Continue on the road back to Luang Prabang for a visit to the unique Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm, a social enterprise that produces sustainable and delicious cheese while giving back to the community and environment. While the buffalo may be the stars here, there are also playful pigs, cheeky chickens and rollicking rabbits that are just as fun to interact with for the young and young at heart. Enjoy a homemade ice cream at the cafe before saying goodbye to the Buffaloes and the team. (Opening Hours: 9.30am – 5.30pm, Monday - Sunday)

The rest of the day is free at leisure in Luang Prabang.

Overnight in Luang Prabang

8

Luang Prabang – Departure

Luang Prabang – Luang Prabang Airport (4 km): 15 min

In the morning, enjoy free time to walk around town or do some last minute shopping. The guide and private car will be waiting at the hotel to provide transport back to the airport for the departing flight.

Important Information

Our Services Include:

  • Hotel accommodation in shared twin/double room.
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
  • English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.

Our Services do not Include:

  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately).
  • Meals other than mentioned above.
  • Camera/video entrance fees.
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, tips, visa
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

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