The Nam Nern Night Safari was set up by the Wildlife Conservation Society together with the local authorities in 2012 and has since won awards for its responsible tourism model.
It is one of the top two-day experiences available in Laos. It begins in the small village of Son Loua (aka Nam Nerm 2) which is most easily reached from Vieng Thong. After learning about the endangered wildlife in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area and the efforts being made to stop illegal poaching, visitors are taken up the Nam Nern River in a long-tail boat. When the river is higher in October and November this river journey is quite exciting in itself, thanks to the rapids the boat is expertly guided over. Along the way there is an abundance of birdlife, including eagles and kingfishers.
After lunch at the base camp, the boat forges further upstream to a salt lick where you may spot animals such as deer. After collecting firewood and local plants to cook with dinner, visitors dine on the bank of the river next to a roaring fire.
The boat is then guided downstream with the engines cut, as the guides use head torches to point out wildlife such as sambar deer, slow loris and monitor lizards. Floating silently downstream in the pitch darkness is an unbeatable experience.
The next morning a tour of the base camp village precedes breakfast which is followed by a final thrilling journey back to the village to end the trip. Back on dry land guests fill out a form detailing the wildlife seen; this relates directly to the bonus the participating villages will receive from the tour. The theory is that by paying more depending on the volume of wildlife seen, poaching will decrease and wildlife populations will begin to build.