Nam Nern Night Safari
Nam Nern Night Safari, Laos
Located in the only accessible area of the remote Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park in north eastern Laos, the Nam Nern Night Safari provides one of the few opportunities in Laos to view rare wildlife. This tour has been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money you pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered tigers and other wildlife.
You will start the adventure by boat upstream towards the park substation, along the way you will spot colourful bird life, the best in Indochina. On arrival you will enjoy a lunch prepared by the village. After lunch, receive a briefing by park staff about the efforts to protect tigers and their prey. In the middle of the afternoon you will travel a further 1hr and a half upstream for the night safari.
Stopping near a salt lick, you will hike into the forest. Your local guide, a skilled tracker, will explain how local people track deer and other wild species. The boats will continue upriver to the dinner site, a sandy, flat bank, where a dinner will be prepared for you around a campfire. After dark you will board your boat and float down river with the engines off. There is only one light per boat which is used deftly by the guide to avoid scaring any wildlife. The guides and boat drivers communicate via hand signals to avoid loud noises. If you are fortunate you may spot Sambar deer, otters, barking deer, various species of civets, Slow Loris, porcupine and owls (hogbadgers, Asian golden cat and wild dogs have also been seen).
After a night in the ecolodge, your local guide will take you on a walk around the jungle, teaching you the use of medicinal plants and explaining the history of the site, which was once a major settlement during the Secret War. After breakfast the boats float back to the village at a relaxing pace with engines off, pointing out birds along the way.
Before departing, you will be asked to fill out a wildlife monitoring form that is used to monitor wildlife quantities in the area and indicates the amount of money put into the Village Development Fund from the tour costs. This is one of the keys to the success of the project because locals are incentivised to preserve the natural habitat. This is one of only a few conservation projects where you have the opportunity to decide where you would like your money to go, whether it be towards research, ecotourism development, land-use management or enforcement. If you are extremely lucky and see a tiger on the safari then you will be asked to pay an additional 1,800,000 Kip (roughly $225) per sighting per group again to encourage conservation as this money will go directly into the Village Development Fund.