A one-hour drive from Vientiane, on the banks of the Nam Ngum River, Ban Pako Ecolodge is a great place to relax and chill out. The lodge offers a convenient location in the countryside from which to go exploring nearby Phou Khao Kway National Park, or for training seminars or teambuilding activities in a rural area.
What to experience ?
Ban Lao Pako is an ecolodge located on an ancient temple site on the banks of the Nam Ngum River, about 50 km from Vientiane. It’s the ideal location for a rural escape while getting immersed in the Laotian countryside, or as an alternative base to go and explore nearby Phou Khao Kway National Park.
Ban Lao Pako has room for 22 guests, and the restaurant serves delicious Lao food. Each bungalow is different but all have a private terrace with magnificent views either of the river or of the wild jungle. Riverview bungalows include a private bathroom, bottled water, mosquito nets, sofa/lounge chairs, patio, and hammocks.
This responsible tourism resort rubs shoulders with much history, as artefacts more than two thousand years are still being excavated in the area (currently visible at the national Museum in Vientiane). Link to the National Cultural Heritage site.
Besides the cultural aspect of the lodge, treks in the vicinity of the 2,000 km2 Protected Area, Phou Khao Khouay, across the river are available, as well as boat rides to encounter local characters such as a famous local healer.
Ecotourism activities include elephant observation, trekking, kayaking, village homestay, birdwatching, and maybe spotting White-cheeked gibbons, leopards, green peafowl or even the rarely seen Stump-tailed macaque monkeys.
How does it help ?
The lodge is very much involved with local communities thanks to a village development fund – 3-4 Million KIP is given to Ban Phongkham’s Village Fund every year – and provides English courses and jobs for villagers.
A Swiss professor in Hospitality Management conducts staff hospitality training for three months every year. Each decision concerning the development of Ban Pako Resort is done through a participative approach with the chief of the village and villagers in order to be beneficial to each stakeholder. An old “Long-house” was converted into a meeting room for up to eighty people, (half the population of Ban Phongkham).
Vegetable-growing, gardening and livestock rearing are encouraged, and the lodge is committed to buying ingredients from villagers. Environmental issues are totally integrated into the lodge’s daily life, and former damaged areas are currently under restoration in order to re-introduce the original deciduous forest.
Although big mammals have already left the area, the restoration of the deciduous forest has allowed the return of insects, reptiles, birds and butterflies, and once again the local community enjoys a wide range of mushrooms, herbs and different kinds of bamboo shoots, as well as wild fruit.
The cultural aspect is not forgotten and archaeological artefacts excavated are displayed in Vientiane at the National Museum, while the project of a museum in the Lodge is actually under discussion.
Ban Pako Ecolodge: 50km east-north-east of Vientiane, on the banks of the Nam Ngum River