NAM ET – PHOU LOUEY NPA (NAM NERN NIGHT SAFARI)
Located in northern Laos, Lao PDR Nam et – Phou Louey NPA (Nam Nern Night Safari) is the second largest protected area in this country. It covers 5,959 km2 in three provinces – Houaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang. The topography is mostly mountainous with altitude ranging between 336 and 2257 metres above sea level. It is also the source of many rivers.
Nam et – Phou Louey NPA (Nam Nern Night Safari) is named after the Nam Et River and Phou Louey Mountain (“Forever Mountain”). This area contains primary forest remaining and has variety of habitats ranging from the mixed deciduous forests of Phou Louey Mountain (2,257m) down to the lowland jungles of the Nam Et River.
As a result, NEPL has a high level of biodiversity with 299 species of birds and the largest population of white-cheeked crested gibbon, which is found only in Vietnam and Lao PDR in this area. It also has one of the last tiger populations in Indochina and five other cat species in addition to tigers including leopards, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, marbled cat and leopard cat.
There is a wide range of the ethnic communities living in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park including Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, Tai Kao, Tai Puan, Tai Lue, Tai Yuan, Khmu, Hmong Kao, Yao… They often receive approximately half of their food by harvesting wild plants and animals from the controlled-use zone of the protected area.
Located in the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA headquarters, Viengthong, a small town in Houaphan Province, is the visitor centre, where tours into the park can be organised. The town has basic accommodation and a handful of restaurants serving Lao food. There are many biking and walking trails, as well as hot springs here.
NEPL offers one of the only opportunities in Lao PDR for tourists to view wildlife on its night safari. The only access for tourists to visit the protected area is by doing a tour organized by the protected area ecotourism unit. Below are some options for visitors:
– Nam Nern Night Safari boat tour (24-hour overnight tour). This innovative and adventurous journey by traditional long-tail boat offers some great nature activities that include bird watching, wildlife tracking, night time wildlife spotting, medicinal plant exploration and moderate hiking.
– Trekking tours The Nests – (Option 2 days & 3 days) is a family friendly hike with overnight in cosy spherical baskets hanging from the trees. The trip is perfect to enjoy wildlife viewing from the wildlife observation tower (currently under construction) at the nearby Poung Nyied salt lick, which attracts animals such as the rare Sambar deer from everywhere.
– Trekking tours Cloud Forest Climb – (Option 4 days or 5 days including ‘The Nests’) is a hiking trail up to the summit of Phou Louey (Forever Mountain) to one of the few cloud forests in the region, and is an option for the more adventurous ones. The hike goes through the evergreen forest and offers a rare opportunity to track wild species such as white-cheeked gibbon, leopards, bears and wild dog using camera traps, which will be set up along the trail and maintained by tourists.
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