Transfer time: 30 minutes. Trekking up to 3-4 hours Difficulty: Medium
Goodbye Muang Hiam, your next destination in Laos is Ban Son Khua. From there, you will join the transfer into the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA (National Protected Area), get an experience of the Nam Nern Night Safari, and stay in a simple Eco lodge. It is a chance to learn about wildlife conservation, medicinal plants, traditional agriculture, and the history of the Secret War from your local Khmu guide.
Upon arrival at the Khmu Ban Son Koua village, you get a warm greeting from the village guide and a local boatman. They will take you on a short village tour to learn about the animist tradition of appeasing the village spirit. Then embark on a long-tail boat, and enjoy a 1.5-hour journey to the park substation on the Nam Nern River. Along the way, you learn about upland rice cultivation and have opportunities to spot-monitor lizards and bird life.
Arrive at the park substation; you have lunch prepared by the village cooking group. You will receive a briefing from park staff about the on-the-ground efforts in protecting tigers and their prey. Around mid-afternoon, you depart for the night safari. Stopping near a salt lick, you hike into the forest. Your local guide, a skilled hunter and tracker, will explain how local people track deer and other wild ungulates. The guide points out evidence of wildlife, such as tracks or scat at the salt lick.
The boat will continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where you will have a picnic dinner around a campfire. Your guide will tell you about Khmu folktales and stories about dragons, wildlife, and ghosts. They educate you about the species of animals they may see during the spotlighting and explain the rules and expectations for spotlighting.
Depending on the moonlight, you depart for the night spotlighting 1-2 hours after dark, floating down the river with engines off. There is only one light per boat, and only the guide uses the light to avoid scaring the animals. Guide and boatman communicate via hand signals; the boat does not make a noise to avoid disturbing the animals. If you are lucky, you might see Sambar Deer, Otters, Barking Deer, various kinds of Civets, Slow Loris, Porcupines, and Owls (Hogbadgers, Asian golden cats, and wild dogs might be seen as well).
At the end of the spotlighting, the boat arrives at the evening camp. Before going to bed, you have a chance to check out a variety of insects attracted to the black light set up near the substation.
Overnight in Nam Nern.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Nong Khiaw mountain ranges viewpoint