Three Protected Areas (aka National Biodiversity Conservation Areas, or NBCAs) could previously be visited from Savannakhet, though as at late 2016 all trips were suspended.
We were advised in late 2016 that all trips to the NBCAs around Savannakhet were suspended while new guides were trained. It was not clear how long this training would take nor when (or if) the trips would recommence. The following should be taken as background information only and contact the Tourism Information Centre in Savannakhet for more information.
Dong Natad is the easiest NBCA to visit as it's only 15 kilometres from the centre of town. You can visit it on your own—it's about 11 kilometres past Friendship Bridge 2 to the north, across from the salt mines—but the 'entrance' is via one of several unmarked trails almost completely swallowed up by forest. Even assuming you found your way through the maze of trails to Nong Lom Lake, the overwhelming consensus is you'd be missing out on the best parts of the experience which include pristine forest and the historic That Ing Hang stupa, which is Savannakhet's principle religious site.
Phu Xang Hae is located 145 kilometres east of Savannakhet town, and in the past, four-day trips included treks through thick jungle leading to viewpoints overlooking the Annamite mountains, a stop at a cave where the walls have been smoothed by wild elephants scratching themselves, and three nights in a Phutai (a small regional ethnic group) village.
Dong Phu Vieng is located even further afield, its eastern boundaries stretching almost to the Vietnam border. The three-day tour included treks through the sacred Dong Sa'kee forest, a peek at dinosaur footprints, a swim in a remote swimming hole, a longtail boat ride on a whitewater river and a couple of nights stay in a Katang (another ethnic minority group) village.
Trips when offered in the past were quite expensive and lack of demand could be one of the contributing reasons why the trips were all suspended when we last passed through in late 2016.
Last updated on 31st March, 2017.
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