Explore Dong Ampham by boat, foot and 4WD on a multi-day expedition cutting deep into some of the world’s most untamed wilderness. Trek along the historic Ho Cho Minh Trail and see a missile launcher leftover from the war. Navigate rivers through dense forests, and hike along rugged trails to secluded ethnic villages and a lake at top of an extinct volcano.
Travellers need at least two days just to scratch Dong Amphan’s surface. Local guides can lead excursions along the many trails meandering through the protected area, though few foreigners have reached its grand prize, the extinct volcano crater lake: Nong Fa.
To penetrate Dong Amphan’s northern territory, travellers can board a boat at Ban Hin Dam for a journey up the Xe Kaman River, which delineates the Dong Amphan’s northwest boundary. The cruise ends at the rocky Hua Tat Pohr rapids, where a network of trails connects trekkers to remote villages of rarely visited ethnic groups.
Those looking for extreme adventure off the beaten track hit pay dirt on the trail to Nong Fa. Though a 4WD vehicle can come close to the base of the volcano at Vangetat village, and provides a quick exit, a combination of boat cruises and trekking offers a closer look into Dong Amphan.
The journey begins 12 kilometres from the Vietnam border at the Xe Xou River. A rough dirt road, impassable during the rainy season, follows the river much of the way, and at times even crosses it. Boats can battle through rapids past Ban Keng Maw before the journey jumps back on the path.
Those embarking on foot for the four-day, 90-kilometre trek follow an old Lao military training route that starts outside Ban Pa’an and stops at a string of villages along the way. Three to four days of hiking through unspoiled nature, steep climbs up mountains with scenic views and overnight stays in villages delivers trekkers to Vangetat Village.
From here, a final two-hour assault up the extinct volcano reaches the crystal clear waters of Nong Fa Lake surrounded by pine trees, and a well-earned swim in one of the most distant places on earth.