Saturday, April 13, 2013

Luang Namtha Trekking Experience.

Luang Namtha_ an ASEAN Heritage Site, now has a reputation as being one of South East Asia’s premier trekking destinations. 

This article is intended to help you to make a good choice:

Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) primary forest is amazing!

 Nam Ha forest, Luang Namtha
1. Decide exactly what you want to get out of your Luang Namtha trekking experience: 

The 2 big draw cards of this area are the impressive Nam Ha national protected area’s mountainous jungle and the different ethnic minority villages that reside outside (sometimes inside) its borders. So do you want the culture or the nature or a mix of both? Do you want to trek, kayak or bicycle (or do a combination tour)? How many days do you want to go for? Do you want to stay overnight in the forest immersed in nature or learn about a different culture doing a homestay? Once you have decided what you want to do it will be much easier finding a tour that fits the bill instead of being inundated by all the options.

2. Find a professional tour operator:

In Luang Namtha (as in the rest of Asia) you get what you pay for; the cheaper tour agencies usually won’t have equipment, guides, accommodations, food and itineraries as good as the slightly more pricey ones. Some operators try to cut costs by not actually going into the NPA. Ultimately shortcuts taken here to save a few dollars could jeo-pardise what should be a “must do” experience in Laos. Find out if your tour company supports local villagers, guides, and what they do to maintain their jungle trails and jungle houses.  You can refer travel companies operating adventure tour in Nam Ha NPA as ACTIVETRAVEL LAOS, a member of ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA offering a wide selection of Laos adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, kayaking, biking, motorcycling, overland touring and family travel packages.

Trek Nam Ha Forest, Luang Namtha
3. Ask the right questions:

To maximize your trekking experience you need to be informed; ACTIVETRAVEL LAOS recommends you some information:
- Does the trip go inside the National Protected Area? Get shown exactly what areas of jungle and villages on a map.
- Is there any primary forest in the area of the trail? How much will there be compared to secondary/bamboo/rubber/agricultural crops/rice paddy?
- How difficult is the trek? 
  3-days trekking tour, 6-7hours trekking per day
- Do you trek to villages or is it purely jungle? What is the ratio?
   Combine villages and jungle.
- What are the sleeping conditions (if staying overnight)? You should get mattress/blanket/mosquito net/pillow or a sleeping bag provided.
   Overnight at the forest camp 2 nights.
- How much water is provided? 
   01 bottle of water per day
- What type of food is provided?
The Khmu forest camp our village guide and villagers will show us how to collect wild vegetables for dinner.

Trek Nam Ha forest, Luang Namtha
4. Get a group together: 

If you go on your trip with a group of different minded individuals it will not only be cheaper but be a much more unforgettable experience. Putting you trust in a good tour agency you think is capable of attracting a group for your tour is very important. You can even be really proactive about forming a group by going around town yourself and finding out if nice people you meet want to join you. You can also check the group sign-up list, see where the people are from and how old they are to ensure it is a good fit for you, a good tour operator will give you the chance to meet them beforehand.

5. Knowing what to expect from your trek:

One of the most common comments people make about trekking in the Nam Ha NPA is “that was harder than I expected” so, be prepared to challenge yourself on the steep uphill and often slippery (especially in wet season) downhill sections of the mountainous NPA jungles. A trek in Luang Namtha is definitely not a gentle walk in the park as some people expect, it is real trekking! Trekking in the primary (first growth) forest is the most challenging but also the most rewarding. Other things you should expect from your trek are:
- Insects; wear long sleeves and pants while trekking and at night.
- You probably will have to carry your own water (3 or 4.5 litres per day) for the duration of the days walking.
- Showering will usually be in a river or using a bucket of water; so bring soap. Girls should do as the local females      and wear sarongs.
- Toilets will be of the squat variety, or a ‘dig your own’; BYO toilet paper is a very good idea.

Now you should be informed enough to have an outstanding trekking experience while in Luang Namtha. We recommend Forest Retreat Laos.

Recommend Trek Nam Ha Forest Camps, Luang Namtha by ACTIVETRAVEL LAOS

This trek is entirely within the Nam Ha National Protected Area, an ASEAN Heritage Site. The 3 days trek is entirely in the forest. This is a trip for those who want a true forest experience. The villagers of a Khmu village will host us at our first forest camp deep in the forest. At the second camp Akha villagers will be your hosts. The camps, built out of bamboo and wood by the villagers themselves, are places to immerse oneself in the beauty of the jungle. Along the way, local Khmu and Akha guides will explain the forest products used by villagers for food, medicine, materials and religious ceremonies. Rise early on the third day for the sunrise and go with an Akha bird caller to learn how the Akha can call wild birds in.

Highlights:
Jungle trails
Jungle lodges
Guided by the Khmu & the Akha guides

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