Photo: Magical.

Activities in Ban Khiet Ngong

Our rating:

Elephants are the primary draw to Ban Khiet Ngong but the village offers plenty of non-pachyderm activities as well.

Ban Khiet Ngong is located in the edge of the Xe Pian National Protected Area, 2,400 square kilometres containing a range of habitats and species that make it one of the most biodiverse NPAs in Laos. A few years ago, some development groups and the local government set up community-managed tourism activities that could allow the village to generate income.

Busy day on the wetlands. Photo taken in or around Activities in Ban Khiet Ngong, Ban Khiet Ngong, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Busy day on the wetlands. Photo: Cindy Fan

Years later, the programme are still running. We’ve seen these kinds of projects in other parts of Laos, where once the glossy activity signage goes up and the ribbon cutting ceremony is done, the initiative is quickly deserted. In Ban Khiet Ngong, the elephant stand doubles as a tourism info centre, and when we visited in November 2016, the signage was still up and the activities available. Prices are set, with money distributed fairly to the respective activity group. We had no problem booking programs directly at the centre, though English is limited. Kingfisher also has some of their own tours and they can help book the village-run activities. Note that for any foray into the park, you are required to have a local guide. We were told that includes the top of Phou Asa.

We think the absolute highlight is the boat trip through Xe Pian’s serene wetlands, and by boat trip we mean a dugout canoe pushed through the marshes by a man using a bamboo pole, a man who defies every wobble like a pro surfer. Do the trip early morning or late in the afternoon, when the light is gorgeous. It’s also the best time to spot birds, watch fishermen slide through the grasses and water buffalo ecstatically wallow, a tableau of nature with the profile of the Bolaven Plateau serving as the backdrop. This kind of wetland ecosystem and tourism experience is not found anywhere ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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