No More Heart of Darkness: Khiri Travel Announces ‘Back Roads’ Trips
Ahead of ITB Berlin, Khiri Travel has introduced two new tours linking Laos with Vietnam: an 8 day/7 night trip that takes in the rural charms of Laos, crossing in to Vietnam at Nam Can border connecting to Ninh Binh and onwards to Hanoi; the second is a highly evocative 11 day/10 night trip following a similar route but including visits to Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, and Xam Neua, home to Laos’ revolution-era caves. The trip connects with Mai Chau and later Hanoi via the Na Meo border crossing.
Both journeys traverse iconic Indochinese mountain landscapes that played an important role in the Indochinese wars between the 1950s and 1975. Organized tour groups do not often visit the area.
Joseph Conrad called it a journey into the ‘heart of darkness’. I see it more as a heritage trip through Indochina’s mountains of light and hope.
– Jack Bartholomew, Regional Director Indochina, Khiri Travel
“Traveling the back roads through the mountains is the best way to admire the beauty and the breathtaking landscapes,” says Jack Bartholomew, Regional Director Indochina for Khiri Travel.
Bartholomew says the trips are “balanced” so that travelers still get to experience major highlights such as Luang Prabang and Phonsavan’s Plain of Jars. They can also participate in rare experiences such as the Nam-Nern night safari by boat. Another highlight is the visit to the hidden cave city of Laos. This was where the Pathet Lao built hospitals, schools, shops and theatres in mountain caves to avoid relentless American aerial bombing during the conflict’s “secret war”.
The trip includes visits to the mysterious Plain of Jars and the Lone Buffalo community foundation in Phonsavan.
“The Nam Nern night safari along the river is an incredible experience,” says Bartholomew. “It brings travelers right up close with nature. The trip is designed to support local communities as well as protecting endangered wildlife.”
At Mai Chau in Vietnam, travelers then explore the Pu Luong Nature Reserve, taking paths through various landscapes including mountains, jungles and valleys. The ‘hidden’ local villages in the mountains belong to Tai and Hmong ethnic groups.
Khiri Travel says both trips are suitable for couples, groups and families. As with any frontier trip in the mountains, there is a limited choice of accommodation. The company says it has taken extra care to select eco-lodges and good quality accommodation where possible.
While many of the roads have recently been improved, the area is defined by what Bartholomew calls, “slow travel.”
“Joseph Conrad called it a journey into the ‘heart of darkness’. I see it more as a heritage trip through Indochina’s mountains of light and hope,” he says.