Nam Et Phou Louey (pronounced “naam et poo loo-ee”) National Park (or National Protected Area) is located in the north-east of Lao People's Democratic Republic. It is named after its two main features: the Nam Et River and Phou Louey Mountain (“Forever Mountain”). With an estimated area of 5,960 square kilometres, it is the largest national park in Indochina, covering three provinces in Laos: Houaphan, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang. The park includes a core area (approximately 3,000 square kilometres) where human access and wildlife harvest is prohibited and a buffer area (approximately 2,960 square kilometres) where pre-existing villages are allocated land for subsistence living.
Forest, flora & fauna:
Mostly hilly or mountainous with elevations ranging between 336 and 2,257 metres, it is the source of many rivers. This park has primary forest remaining in many areas, including only 0.1% of the NPA is undisturbed primary forest and 23.2% is partially disturbed/open forest, indicating long-standing encroachment (based on satellite image interpretation in 1997).
The main part of the national protected area is covered by shrub land (63.9%), comprising bushes mixed with tall grasses, is presenting of 314 plant species, 243 genera and 106 families. This vegetation type has resulted from repeated use by shifting cultivators and is difficult to rehabilitate to forest.
It also has a high level of biodiversity and a number of endangered species including tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, marbled cat, civet, gaur, Sambar deer, white-cheeked gibbon, sun bear, black bear, Asian elephant, dhole, hornbill and three species of otter.
Fast facts about this national park:
– Approximately half of the protected area is co-managed with local communities to sustainably harvest wild plants and meat and practice traditional agriculture.
– It has one of the last tiger populations in Indochina.
– It has the largest population of white-cheeked crested gibbon, which is found only in Vietnam and Lao PDR.
– It has the highest density of bears, according to recent surveys.
– Dhole is an endangered species in this park that requires five times the area of a tiger.
– Gaur is an endangered species that is the tiger’s preferred prey.
– There are 299 species of bird in Nam Et Phou Louey.
There are many biking and walking trails, as well as hot springs.
The only access for visitors to see the protected area is by doing a tour organized by the ecotourism unit in area: Nam Nern Night Safari boat tour (24-hour overnight tour) (which won the prestigious ‘World Responsible Tourism Award’ at the World Travel Mart in London, England, in 2013 and 2014), Trekking Tours The Nests (two or three days) and Trekking Tours Cloud Forest Climb (four or five days including ‘The Nests’ homestay).
These tours are the chances to watch birds, track wildlife, spot noctural wildlife, explore medicinal plants, and go hiking, etc.