Nam Nern Night Safari in Laos


As a seasoned traveller throughout Asia, Bamboo Director Robin Ball was delighted to discover a new, original activity in Laos on a recent trip: the Nam Nern Night Safari, which has now been added to Bamboo Travel’s Responsible Tourism Pledge*.

The safari takes place in the highlands of Northern Laos, in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, a biodiversity hotspot and home to some of Southeast Asia’s most endangered species.

The Nam Nern Night Safari is a pioneering Ecotourism project that offers an adventurous 24-hour experience to search for wildlife in this upland forest and learn about the conservation efforts undertaken by the local stakeholders in cooperation with the Wildlife Conversation Society.

Visitors travel by boat up the Nam Nern River to a permanent camp set up in the protected area, where they are looked after by local villagers.  Accommodation is in the form of traditional bamboo huts in the forest at the remote Ranger’s Substation, which is only accessible by boat.

Mosquito nets, mattresses, sheets and blankets are provided. Bathrooms are shared, and there is a simple shower, although bathing in the river is also possible in the warm season. The ecolodge was constructed by the villagers using local materials and recycled wood.

The highlight of the trip is a barbecue dinner with a bonfire under the stars, followed by a river safari after nightfall.  Cruising with the engines off through the dense jungle, with just torchlight and the sounds of nature for company, is an unforgettable experience.

Animals that might be seen include sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of civets, loris, porcupine and owls. The park is also the last remaining place where you can find wild tigers in Laos.  However, don’t expect to see tigers on the safari because their habitat is a distance away from the river.

This is an award-winning Ecotourism project that provides education and an alternative income source to those who may have previously hunted in the protected area.  Almost all the guides, porters and boatmen come from the surrounding villages, and women provide handicraft, cooking and cleaning services. In addition to salaries, bonuses are paid to employees working on the tour for all wildlife encounters which include direct sightings, animal calls, footprints and scat.

The experience is available on several of Bamboo Travel’s itineraries, including the 15-day Secrets of Indochina, which costs from £3115 pp (two sharing).  This includes flights, all transportation on a private basis, 12 nights’ B&B (plus two lunches and one dinner), sightseeing/activities and a guide.

Bamboo Travel (020 7720 9285, * For each client booked on to this experience Bamboo Travel will donate USD10 to one of their nominated charities.

Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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