Manager Insider Tip: National Parks of Indochina
Indochina is a region that recognizes the importance of National Parks and National Protected Areas. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have each set aside large tracts of their provincial lands for special protection and offer unique nature experiences for local and international travelers alike. While there is no shortage of choice, it’s a sobering reality that some of these parks are under immediate threat from illegal logging, wildlife hunting and uncontrolled development.
As visitor demand increases and competes with the natural order of these protected lands, there are also an increasing number of ecotourism and community based tourism (CBT) organizations helping to promote sustainability for both tourism activities and local land use needs. Therefore, with so much choice and a limited amount of time, it’s always good to make sure your travelers elect the park that matches their preferred ideas or interests.
Chambok is a CBT project located in southwestern Cambodia’s Kirirom National Park. Aside from the usual trekking and wildlife encounters your travelers might anticipate, there is also a magnificent 40-meter high waterfall, ox-cart rides and overnight camping in the forest. By choosing responsible travel to Chambok and supporting the local community’s economy with ecotourism, your travelers can assist in the protection of this national park. Since 2003, because of the development of alternative incomes, the community has protected over 1,260 hectares of forestland from unsustainable logging and hunting.
In neighboring Laos there is one name that is getting increasingly more attention for responsible travel and ecotourism. Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL-NPA) is now the proud owner Laos’ international award winning travel experience: the Nam Nern Night Safari. This area in northwestern Laos is a collection of authentic village communities where your travelers can discover local lifestyles and customs. This protected area and its endemic wildlife can only be visited through the night safari run by local providers. The exclusivity makes the whole experience a great example of sustainability through tourism. Managing the protected area directly promotes ecotourism by valuing wildlife as a natural resource worthy of protection. They do this by awarding cash income to local villagers for spotting wild animals, rather than hunting.
Vietnam has over one million hectares of national park land in 30 national parks, an enormous amount space. Cuc Phuong National Park located in the country’s northwest is an area that is promoting itself as an opportunity for travelers interested in nature and responsible tourism. Established in 1962, it is officially Vietnam’s oldest national park. Located only 120 kilometers from Hanoi on good provincial roads, Cúc Phương National Park is easy to reach and can be combined with a trip to Mai Chau or Ninh Binh. Cúc Phương is Vietnam’s largest nature reserve so we at Khiri Travel are working with a local community that provides authentic trekking experiences around the park. There are local homestay accommodations in the villages of ethnic minorities and local guides to lead trekking tours through peaceful, untouched forest.
Cúc Phương is also home to the Endangered Primate Rescue Center and the Turtle Conservation Center. Both places are doing valuable work protecting as well as rehabilitating animals that have been victims of poaching or loss of habitat from deforestation and can easily be added to any itinerary of the national park.
The time to visit these national parks is certainly now. Being mindful about which places to visit, Khiri Travel is happy to help your travelers research all of the desired options. A trip to a national park can be beneficial to both the traveler and the local community. For more information about parks in Indochina and places to enjoy nature, adventure and responsible tourism, please contact at [email protected]