Remote Attapeu By Foot and Boat
This deep south province is acclaimed for its variety of indigenous forest and birdlife.
The experience: Renowned for its little known hilltribes, unexplored forests, lakes, waterfalls and the war torn Ho Chi Minh Trail, Attapeu is one of the least visited and yet most fascinating provinces in Laos. The two-day, overnight trip to the village of Ban Mai on the edge of the Xe Pian National Protected Area is the first community-based ecotourism experience available for visitors to Attapeu offered by the local tourism office.
The tour takes you 48km from Attapeu town through the remote countryside to Ban Mai on the Xe Pian River stopping to visit the Nonglom Lake on the way at the foot of the Bolaven plateau. After arriving at the village a local guide will take you by longtail boat up the beautiful Xe Pian River to the Tad Samongphak waterfall and from there by foot through the forest to the Tad Saepha waterfall.
The Xe Pian River is one of the few lowland rivers left in Southeast Asia that retains intact riverine gallery forest. Birdlife is colorful and abundant and you may even catch a glimpse of the endangered and secretive white-winged duck or masked finfoot. Return by boat to Ban Mai village for an evening bath in the river and a relaxing traditional dinner with your family host. For those with less time it is possible to visit Ban Mai and the waterfalls in just one day from Attapeu town and for the more active a longer trekking and outdoor camping trip is offered with local guides through forest to a remote waterfall higher in the Xe Pian watershed.
How does it help: This pilot eco-tour has been developed by the Attapeu Provincial Tourism Office in partnership with Ban Mai and with assistance from CUSO – a Canadian volunteer’s assistance organization. The goal is to develop a successful example of low impact ecotourism which benefits local people and which can be used by the tourism office as a model for developing further ecotourism opportunities in the province.
The people of Ban Mai receive direct income from your stay in the village and through the employment of guides and use of their boats on the Xe Pian River. A village fund has been established from a small levy added to the price of the tour to benefit both Ban Mai and surrounding villages. Group sizes are also limited in the interest of boat safety and to enhance the experience for both visitors and village hosts. As Attapeu province is just opening its doors to tourism development, your participation in this pilot tour will provide encouragement to the local government to continue promoting responsible and quality ecotourism development in the province.