Eco-Adventure in Laos
Concierge.com's insider take:
Laos is largely comprised of lush mountains cut by fast-flowing rivers, and inhabited by lowland Lao and several dozen ethnic highland tribes. It's a perfect landscape for eco-tourism (and, unfortunately, loggers, poachers, and hydroelectric power companies). Natural and cultural attractions abound, yet few draw crowds. Thailand-based North by North East mounts expeditions to four-wheel the Ho Chi Minh Trail or paddle kayaks along subterranean rivers in the southern panhandle (66-42-513-572; www.north-by-north-east.com). Green Discovery offers programs throughout the country, including multiday kayak trips on the Mekong (856-21-264-528; www.greendiscoverylaos.com). Ten miles east of Luang Prabang, Tiger Trail Outdoor Adventures operates a small elephant camp and "Fair Trek'' hikes that generate income for hill-tribe villages (856-71-252-655; www.laos-adventures.com). Clients who don't want to rough it with a Hmong homestay can lounge at Lao Spirit Resort, a collection of antique homes that have been converted into five rustic bungalows and a small lodge overlooking the Nam Khan River (856-30-514-111; www.lao-spirit.com).