To the Jungle: Travel Tips for Trekking in Nam Et-Phou Louey

If you're thinking about Laos in your next travel destination, have you considering going "off the beaten path" and immersing in a nature experience? If you answered yes and yes, then I personally recommend either “Trekking Tours” or “Nam Nern Night Safari” - or both, as I did!

As you might know, I recently went on a trek in the jungle and mountains of Nam Et – Phou Louey (NEPL) National Protected Area (NPA) in Houaphanh Province. It was a truly beautiful place. The dense and lush forest stretches far in every direction - it's a vast and incredibly biodiverse place.

If you missed my last post, it may be a good idea to start there where I give an overview of how you can support ecotourism and conservation in the country's largest protected area while enjoying a trek or safari.

Jungle Trek

The most important things to consider before arranging your trek would be how much time you have and whether one or both are a good fit with your interests. You should know that most often it takes at least half a day to a day to arrive or leave to go to another town (usually Nong Khiaw from the west or Xam Neua from the east). If you're tight on time then the Nam Nern Night Safari is approximately 24 hours! While the Trekking tours are more customizable with options for 2, 3 and 5-day treks.

I started with the 3-day Trek then the Night Safari afterward. In total, I was completing ecotourism activities in/around Nam Et – Phou Louey for about 6 days. Here's a list of the things I found myself using almost every day.

River

 

10 Must-Pack Items

1. Water bottle or thermos: staying hydrated during the trek is important! All water is boiled from the stream, but you can also bring a lifestraw or something to filter the water.

2. Toliet paper/tissue: always carry some with you - even though it is provided! There are modest toilet facilities at both campsites but carry toilet paper, just in case!

3. Lightweight clothing:

  • Lightweight trousers
  • Lightweight shirts
  • Lightweight rain jacket (note that the trek will not run if it is raining, but there might be light showers and I like to be prepared!)

4. Warm clothes: depending on the month and time of the year this may change, but it is important to bring layers. When the sunset, I was wearing a shirt, fleece and thin down jacket. On one night we stayed outside to observe wait and observing wildlife, so it can get chilly when you're sitting in the dark without a fire.

5. Warm accessories: hat, socks, and mitts are helpful additions to your warm clothes.

Campsite on the first night

6. Mosquito spray: it keeps away leeches as well, or so I'm told! Despite this, I was bitten twice, but both occasions were not bad and I simply removed them. I also wore a mosquito repellent wristband, but I'm not sure how effective they were - has anyone had any experience with them?

Note that sleeping bag, sleeping mat and mosquito net are provided are carried for you.

7. Headlamp: of course, once it gets dark it's impossible to navigate without a headlamp. Make sure there are batteries! I have made the mistake of not checking before leaving home.

8. Hiking shoes and flip-flops or sandals: it's nice to have both options during the day. When we walked to the waterfalls it was nice to wear my sandals and dip my feet in the water, but during the trek, I wanted to have closed toed shoes as there were many small items that could easily cut your feet. However, if you're brave like our guide, he was only wearing flip-flops. He told us that people sometimes jokingly call him the "flip-flop" guide.

9. All-purpose soap and dry towel: Keep soap for handwashing or dipping in the river to bathe, preferably biodegradable, environmentally friendly and multipurpose soap. Don't forget a packable towel!

10. Solar charger: if you're using your phone to take photos, you might want to take this with you - note that you will not have service during the trek!

 

Campfire

I also carry a camera and notebook everywhere I go. Maybe you also want to capture the moment and write down your thoughts?

Most of these items are regular items I would take with me on a long hike. The difference is that with the jungle the days get quite warm and humid during the day and cool off significantly during the evening. The range of climates felt much wider!

In the end, pack light! It will be a much more enjoyable experience if you take only what you need. Hope this helps with your packing if you decide to go for this unique trek in Laos.

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