Loris in the jungle
Vacations to Nam Et-Phou Louey, Laos
One of the largest National Protected Areas in Laos is Nam Et-Phou Louey. It’s named after its two significant landmarks – the Nam Et River and Phou Louey Mountain. The area is on Laos’ Northern Heritage Route, a road linking the ancient capital of Luang Prabang and the Viengxai Cave complex near the Vietnamese border. Most walking tours of the conservation area start from the visitor center in the village of Muang Hiam.
The major draw of Nam Et-Phou Louey is the number of endangered species that have made this richly biodiverse area their home, including gaur, clouded leopard, Sambar Deer and White-Cheeked Gibbon. Nam Et-Phou Louey also has the most important population of Indochinese tigers in the world, although there’s said to be less than twenty. They can be incredibly difficult to spot, but most visitors keep their eyes peeled for a glimpse.
Budding birdwatchers will be impressed with Nam Et-Phou Louey – it’s said to be home to almost 300 species. Joining a guided tour of the park is the best way to spot as many as possible, with an expert guide on-hand to point out the different varieties and their habitats. You’ll also learn more about the flora and fauna of Nam Et-Phou Louey and be shown medicinal plants and how they’re used in remedies. The guides are adept at spotting hiding animals too, so you never know, you might just get a sighting of one of those elusive tigers.
Particularly plucky nature spotters will find the night safari tour an exhilarating option to discover the area under the cover of darkness, drifting down the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat with your guide spotting wildlife with a headlamp. Other than that, the only light is the flicker of fireflies. It’s an eerie but exciting experience.