Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the right trek: Eco based tourism in Laos

Guest post by Amanda Kidd

A small country, nestled in the lap of forests and mountains tells the story of Mother Nature and its bond with the humans. Laos, a small yet beautiful country in South East Asia sings green melodies from the break of the dawn till the setting in of dusk. The country knows its USP- the exuberant rivers, majestic mountains, flamboyant forests, adventurous rope bridges and to top it all, unlimited trekking opportunities.

Eco-tourism has always fascinated me. Just one tour and you are helping the nature and its inhabitants in a plethora of ways. Consciously or unconsciously you become one with the nature’s spirit. The purpose and objectives include that of educating the traveler, providing funds for ecological conservation and development, empowering the locals and getting to know the culture of a foreign land. Exploring places untouched by humans may awake your spiritual and aesthetic senses.

Trekking and hiking possibilities in Laos are countless. Since its population density is low and ethnic traditions diverse, Laos today boasts of one of the richest ecotourism networks in Asia. So pack up your bags and get ready to hit it. It offers something or other for every kind of tourist (those short-trippers as well as long-trippers). You can go for an exploration off the beaten track and visit ethnic villages, explore hidden caves and waterfalls, spot and study wildlife and bird habitats and probe into the ruins of ancient civilizations. The local guides (be sure to book one, you won’t regret it) have a vast knowledge of the local culture, wildlife, plants and other elements of nature.

You can book the guides via a guide service or even a tour operator. These treks are organized by provincial guide services and villagers. The ‘villagers’ are properly trained for this. The money you spend (most of it) goes to the local guides and the villagers (as should be the case with eco tourism). This monetary help ensures that they get paid for their hospitality services and training facilities. The fiscal benefit further trickles down to community development programs.

Trekking with the help of these guides is the best way to travel a Laos National Protected Area. These protected areas are the best designed systems in the world. Their constant urge to conserve these valuable natural sources has worked well to make it the best in the business.

If you are more of a ‘dig-those-ancient-wonders’ type, you probably can’t miss to embark upon a fruitful journey of visiting two UNESCO’s world heritage sites. This archaeological and historical site is soon to make its way in the list of famous world heritage sites.

Apart from trekking, tourists can do cycling through the amazing stretches of green forests, kayak or raft down the meandering rivers, visit the canyons, rummage around for unusual wildlife and hike to stunning waterfalls and hidden caves. And while you are wearing your sneakers out, do try to breathe in the vibrant culture that Laos has at display.

About the author: Amanda Kidd is a blogger who is a nature lover and a hard core traveler. Amongst all, Florida beaches are still her favorite and she is currently working on a post on most exotic honeymoon destinations.

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