Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jungle trekking and tribe visit

While being in Luang Prabang we wanted to take a more-day hike into the area of north Laos but had to find a good company to use. As with the elephant adventure we wanted to use an environmental friendly agent that uses tourism for the best for Laos and its tribes. Green Discovery was our choice. They give you the opportunity to see the authentic Laos with good and trustable guides and they make sure that your money ends up by the locals, tribes and guides. You pay a bit more than other companies but then you know you don’t leave bad tracks behind when visiting Laos. To make the trip as cheap as possible we had to find more people to join the same trip. Green Discovery luckily found people and the day after Elephant village we packed our backpack for adventure. Tim and Sarah, a couple from New Zealand were our trekking buddies and turned out to stay at the same guesthouse as us. We had a lot of fun, also together with our two guides, which names are hard to spell. They spoke good English, had a lot of knowledge about nature as well as Lao culture and tribes and they where proud Lao boys.

The first day was a 6-hour trek through jungle, agriculture, walking up a mountain and sliding down muddy paths, all done in heavy rain. It could have been better weather but we actually didn’t bother that much, you’re wet anyway and the nature was still beautiful. The rain also forced our guides to be creative when we sat down for lunch, they decided to make a hut out of branches and banana leaves, which gave an extra wild dimension to our already adventures trip. Under the roof of our self-made hut, we had the most delicious Lao lunch on the banana leaves from the jungle. In the afternoon we arrived at the Khmu village where we were going to stay the night. Our feet were happy to have a break from the soaking wet shoes and we enjoyed a very good dinner cooked by our guides. The village belongs to the Khmu tribe, which is one of the four main tribes in Laos, they live very basic and are self maintained of their own farming. In this village they have made an extra village house together with Green Discovery, where 6 people can stay the night, this way the village has an extra income. Green Discovery as well as other companies try to share this idea between villages in Laos, to lessen the impact on the villages and spread the money.
The village kids gave us a warm welcome and wanted to play with us almost immediately, so for a couple of hours we were surrounded by adorable children, playing, joking and trying out and borrowing our cameras.
After a night of more or less good sleep, we played some more with our new young friends and had a good breakfast, again made by our fantastic guides. It was time to wave our goodbyes to the charmy village and the adorable kids and continue our trekking through Lao nature.

The trek of the day was less heavy and a lot shorter than the day before, which made us happy, since our shoes were not dried up at all from the day before. We started of with visiting a Hmong village, a tribe that is known for living higher up then the Khmu people and even more than the Khmu living of nature and their own recourses, still living like they did hundreds of years ago. The Khmu and Hmong tribes are also unlike the Lao people not Buddhists. After some climbing and sliding down the muddy paths, lunch and visiting a cave, we reached our final destination: the Kuang Si waterfall. A fantastically beautiful and big waterfall, which was even bigger now in the rainy season. We washed our muddy shoes and took a swim before entering the car that took us back to Luang Prabang. We were very satisfied after a great trip, seen a lot and learned a lot of Lao culture, tribes and nature.

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