PHOU KHAO KHOUAY EXPERIENCE
The National Protected Area of Phou Khao Khouay is the nearest National Park to Vientiane, the nearest point just over an hour away. Besides some great scenery and beautiful waterfalls, the NPA offers trails through dry evergreen and mixed deciduous forests, numerous waterfalls and rivers. Wildlife is abundant but elusive.
Tropical butterflies and orchids line the way through forests that are home to rare large mammals such as Sun Bear, Tiger and Elephants. The friendly village of Ban Hatkhai is a good place to learn more about the genuine lifestyle of the Lao Loum people.
Day 1: Vientiane – Ban Hatkhai
We will be transferred from Vientiane to Ban Hatkhai, where a long-tail boat takes us up-stream on the Nam Mang river, before continuing along the smaller Houay Xai stream, one of its many tributaries. A 2 hours trek passes under an evergreen canopy, while slowly gaining height. A picnic lunch is served on the way.
The magnificent pair of waterfalls, Tad Xay and Pha Xay and only about 800 m apart, are particularly beautiful and thundering during and after the rainy season. Tad Xay has a pool which is great for bathing. We'll be there in the early afternoon.
From here, a pick-up takes the group to Ban Hatkhai, from where we either return to Vientiane - or (for those opting for a two-day trip; see below) where we stay overnight in the home of a villager (home-stay).
Approximately: 2 ½ hours transfer/ 1 hour boating / 2 hours trekking
End of 1 day tour: We return to Vientiane from Ban Hatkhai (Approximately: 2 ½ hours transfer)
Note: In the dry season, when we are not able to take the long-tail boat on Houay Xai stream due to low water, we continue the boat ride further up-steam on the Nam Mang to start our trek at another point. (3 hours trek)
Day 2: Ban Hatkhai – Tad Leuk – Vientiane
After an early breakfast, we will be transferred to the Tad Leuk Waterfall. The Tad Leuk is a local tourist attraction amidst mixed deciduous forest. A permanent exhibit at the Visitor Center gives some good information on the flora and fauna of the NPA. The Tad Leuk Nature Trail points out some interesting botanic details. We will have early lunch at Tad Leuk. In the afternoon, the trek following a path upstream along the Nam Leuk river to the Tad Sang ("Elephant") waterfall, another idyllic place for bathing and relaxation. Along the way, a large number of orchids can be seen, especially in the wet season. In the dry season we can cross the river to trek back to Tad Leuk on the other side of the river. We return to Vientiane by songthaew.
Approximately: 3 hours transfer/ 4 hours trekking