The quaint, out-of-the-way village of Ban Khiet Ngong is a good example of how the Lao Government is trying to develop a smooth-running, ecologically friendly tourist infrastructure that brings much-needed income to increasingly remote regions of Laos without impacting negatively on the traditional life-ways of the locals.
As you enter the village, you'll see the elephant platform on the left, which makes it possible to get on and off the mammoth beasts, and the one 'tourist friendly' place is stay is well-removed from the village. There are no signs of the hawking and pandering among locals that tends to rise up when cash-laden tourists show up in relatively impoverished places.
A visit here is recommended, not only for the beauty of the landscape and novelty of the elephant treks, but also to support the future of such low-impact development in Laos.
Ban Khiet Ngong is part of the Xe Pian National Protected Area, 24,000 square kilometres of wildlife and forests reaching through Champasak and Attapeu provinces to the border with Cambodia. The area is rife with bird-life, but also larger mammals like the Asian Black Bear and yellow-cheeked crested gibbon -- not that you'll necessarily spot any of these on your trek, but they're out there!
The area is also home to the Brow ethnic group, inhabiting Ta Ong and other villages in the area.
The road that leads to Ban Khiet Ngong is also the start of the rough-and-ready trail that leads eventually to Attapeu.
While there is no public transport along this road, experienced motorcyclists may want to give it a go. We did it by Honda Dream once -- the trip took ten hours or so and involved having to dismantle and rebuild the bike ... twice!
Text and/or map last updated on 10th August, 2009.
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