The Nam et Phou Louey National Protected Area is located in Houaphan province, in North-East Laos. The area has primary forest remaining in many areas, a high level of biodiversity, and a number of endangered species including tiger, gaur, Sambar deer, and white-cheeked gibbon.
Since 2009, the Lao PDR Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have developed ecotourism activities to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money that guests pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered tigers and other wildlife.
The tours benefit 14 villages that surround the Nam Nern area through a village development fund. Every visitor must pay a fee, included in the tour price, to the village development fund before entering the area. The amount of money received by the villages depends on the numbers of wildlife seen by the tourists. The money from the village development fund is used to support small-scale village development activities chosen by each village, rather than cash payments.
The Nam Nern Night Safari is a 24-hour, boat-based tour into the core of the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area. The highlight of the trip is the nighttime wildlife-spotlighting, when long-tail boats drift down the Nam Nern River looking for wild and endangered animals before returning visitors to the ecolodge within the national park. The Nam Nern Night safari has won the prestigious ‘World Responsible Tourism Award’ at the World Travel Mart in London, England, both in 2013 and 2014.
This innovative and adventurous journey is not only one of the few opportunities in Laos to view rare wildlife, but the trip is designed to support alternative livelihoods for local people and generate community support for conservation of tigers and other wildlife. Nature activities during the tour include bird watching, wildlife tracking, nighttime wildlife spotting, discovery of medicinal plants and an early morning hike. Visitors to the Night Safari overnight in one of our two-person traditional Lao bungalows in the ecolodge, built and managed by the community and overlooking the Nam Nern River from the forest edge.
The tour has been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money that you pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered tigers and other wildlife. Most of your tour fee goes directly to villagers in the communities around Nam Et-Phou Louey. A village development fund is shared equally between the 14 villages that surround the Nam Nern area. In addition to being paid for the services they provide, villagers also receive a bonus based on the numbers of wildlife seen by the tourists, who are required to fill out a wildlife monitoring form at the end of the trip.
Please view our website and check the calendar for availability of the Night Safari. For more information check out this youtube clip.
We are able to offer a 10% discount to Tourism Concern Members.
The villagers are involved in the protected area activities (monitoring, tourism) and their local knowledge of territory and nature is much appreciated by the protected area staff, scientists and tourists. As example, the villagers (ex-hunters) are employed today as guides for the wildlife spotting and fauna discovery activities. There are regular meetings and trainings for the different villager groups (guides, cooks, handicraft, etc).
A village development fund that receives revenues from the tours is shared equally between the involved villages that surround the area. The money from the village development fund is used to support small-scale village development activities chosen by each village, rather than cash payments.
Example of the Nam Nern Night Safari tour: All community members from 14 villages that surround the Nam Nern Area are given an opportunity to apply to work in tourism. A selected number of members are then trained and employed as guides, cooks, boatmen, porters, handicraft producers, and cleaners. Approximately 20-45 people are hired in each village with at least 50% from poor families and 50% women.
The site and ecolodge is managed and operated by the local people of Ban Son Koua in cooperation with the NPA. There are five service groups in the village: guide, boat, cooking, camp and handicraft group. Each group has between five and ten members who have been selected through an open interview process conducted by the NPA. In order to spread the benefits of tourism fairly in the village, any one family in the village is allowed to have membership in only one service group.
Most of your tour fee goes directly to villagers the rest to NPA and 10% to tour companies.
There are five departments dedicated to conserving the area’s wildlife and forests:
- The enforcement team – responsible for patrolling the protected area and its boundaries in order to stop and prevent illegal activities. There are a total of nine substations.
- The conservation outreach – dedicated to local people’s participation in the management of the Protected Area. It disseminates information about the important ecosystem while communicating rules and regulations.
- The monitoring and research unit – monitors the health of the ecosystem and populations of key species, including tigers and other endangered animals, and research a range of issues including human-wildlife conflict.
- Land-use management – helps villagers to manage their resources in order to increase production from agriculture and livestock and to reduce wildlife conflicts and forest degradation.
- Ecotourism-provides additional income and benefits linked to conservation through a village development fund.