The Laos Story
In 1353 a prince founded the Kingdom of Lan Xang—‘The Kingdom of a Million Elephants.’ The wild landscape of Laos still echoes the romance of the country’s original name. Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, with nearly three-quarters of its landmass covered in mountains and forested hills. National parks comprise 13% of the country, and Laos’ unofficial reputation is that of the being most laid back country in Southeast Asia.
But Laos is hardly parched for water. The Mekong River winds through the country for 4,180 kilometres before reaching Cambodia and, finally, the Vietnamese Delta. Khiri takes you along a tributary of the Mekong, the Nam Khan River, by bamboo raft to explore waterfalls outside of the picturesque town of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With over 40 different ethnic groups speaking over 100 different languages and dialects, ethnic minorities make up the majority of Laos’ population. Through close contact with ethnic minority villages such as the Hmong and Khmu, Khiri has developed a trusteed network in the highlands of northern Laos—places where very few Westerners have gone before.
The Ho Chi Minh Trail as it twisted through Laos provided a critical supply chain to the Viet Cong during the Vietnamese War. In its attempts to interrupt the communists’ supply line, the U.S. dropped over 260 million bombs over Laos, giving Laos the distinction of being the most bombed country per capita in the world. The Plain of Jars in northern Laos, in which there are hundreds of megalithic stone jars clustered throughout the landscape, is one of the most important archeological sites from the Iron Age. Three jar sites have been cleared of unexploded bombs—remnants of the Secret War in Laos of the 1960s—and are now easily accessed by visitors.
Lao people are known for their easy-going natures and, unlike their Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese neighbours, prefer sticky rice to jasmine rice with their meals.
Can you imagine a world where travelers reject the wastefulness of using disposable plastic water bottles? Khiri Travel endorses this simple but powerful attitude promoted by Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a worldwide non-profit organization. TAP’s goal is to educate travelers about using reusable containers instead of buying and disposing of plastic bottles. The following link is a list of hotels Khiri Travel recommends in Laos that use glass water bottles.
Si Pan Don (4000 Islands)
The ecosystem generated by the Mekong River in this area has huge biodiversity from plants, and an abundance of fish. However, what are most exciting are the river dolphins, especially if your travelers want to try and kayak to get extra close to them.
Wildlife highlights: Take a boat for the chance to spot the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in their natural habitat.
Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area
Travel the Nam Nern River by long-tail boat and try to spot monitor lizards and a variety of bird life. There is an exciting night safari option where travelers float downriver without an engine so as not scare away the animals. Back on land, a skilled local guide leads the night safari to track nocturnal animals.
Wildlife highlights: There is the possibility to see tigers or leopards in the night as well as birdlife, deer, otters, sun bears, porcupines, owls, slow loris, civets, and monitor lizards.
Bokeo Nature Reserve
Spend some time flying through the rainforest canopy on zip lines or hiking around the nature reserve. Watch for the exotic black-cheeked crested gibbon or hear them sing while careening through the trees during The Gibbon Experience.
Wildlife highlights: See and hear the exotically beautiful black-cheeked crested gibbon that was thought to be extinct until discovered in northern Laos in 1997.
Paksong – Dong Hua Sao Mountain Range
Stay in a hotel high above the ground in a tree house surrounded by nature. Fly over the treetops on a zip line, trek through pristine forests and coffee plantations and experience the forest canopy by skywalk.
Wildlife highlights: Opportunity to see yellow-cheeked gibbons, macaques and many types of birds.
Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area
Nakai Nam Theun is the second largest protected area in Laos in the heart of the ecologically diverse Annamite Mountain Range. Visit the park’s raw and exotic natural beauty and try to spot native animals including newly identified avian species. nine species of primates, the guar, wild pigs, the deer-like muntjac, and the rare and distinct saola. The area is also rich in avian species including the newly discovered barefaced bulbul.
Wildlife highlights: The diversity of this protected area includes nine species of primates, guar, wild pigs, the deer-like muntjac, and the rare and distinct unicorn-like saola. Watch bird life for the barefaced bulbul.