Depart at 8:30 from the Eco-Guide Service office on a transfer by pick-up (or tuk-tuk) to Ban Nam O, a traditional Khmu Kwaen village. The first village-based guide joins the group, and the first half of the day follows the meandering Nam O River and its lush valley.
Pause for a Lao-style picnic lunch on the way before hiking across several ridges offering panoramic views of the Nam Ha NPA forests. The well-worn Akha trail continues past a temporary settlement of the upland rice farmers from Ban Nam O.
By late afternoon, trekkers reach a lodge on the top of a mountain at the Akha Phouli village of Ban Nam Lo. A traditional Akha dinner cooked by the villagers marks the end of an adventurous first day. Overnight in an Akha lodge.
Rise early to listen for black-cheeked gibbons. Tour the village before setting off to a second Akha and Khmu village, Ban Taleng, where lunch is served. The walk continues through primary and secondary forest to “Pa Mai Hok”, a bamboo forest area. After walking the rough road following the Nam Mai river, a pick-up takes trekkers to Prasat Cave, the final stop before returning to Vieng Phoukha in the mid-afternoon.
Walking – moderate to advanced along a well-worn trail. There are long days with some steep ascents/descents; the first day passes through the river several times (take rubber sandals)
Distance – approximately 18 km (5/6 hours per day)
Local meals prepared by villagers, water, 2 local guides from town, village guides, accommodation, forest conservation permit, transportation andlocal taxes
One change of clothes, sandals for the village, good shoes for hiking, sarong for bathing (required for women), mosquito repellent, flashlight, sunscreen/hat, camera, cotton sleeping sheet (optional)
Local and village guide fees, food sales and preparation and accommodation fees
Do not give individual gifts of sweets or money to children. Ask before taking photos of people or spiritual items. Ask your guide before entering a house or a room inside a house. Help keep the villages clean by not littering. Please purchase handicrafts but do not purchase antiques. Do not use drugs in villages.
All treks must be paid for in advance and in cash unless you are booking from elsewhere. Treks can be paid for in Lao kip, US dollars or Thai baht. However, as all local payments are made in kip, it would be much appreciated if you could pay in kip. Please be aware that there is nowhere to officiallychange money in Vieng Phoukha, and even unofficially you will find it difficult to change anything other than baht or yuan.
With tourist numbers still low, there is no need to book your trek ahead unless you want to arrange a special package. Getting in touch can sometimes be a bit difficult, but try the following phone numbers:
020 5985289 Vongxay (English-speaking lead guide)
020 5101670 Somhak (English-speaking lead guide)