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Embracing local nature, culture at Oudomxay’s must-see Nam Kat Yorla Pa
Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and photographs inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history a nd hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

Imagine waking up fully refreshed nestled among soft sheets and comfortable pillows in a bedroom every bit as charming as might be found in a top hotel in a big city.
Pulling back the curtain reveals that you are not ensconced in the concrete jungle, yet instead amidst a glorious natural deep green and dappled sunlight of a mighty forest.
Open the door. You are suddenly aware of the fresh, crisp air’s gentle caress.
Take a full breath as your senses acclimatise to river water flowing and birds chattering.  
These sensations and more are among those you can expect when surrounded by nature at Nam Kat Yorla Pa in a Khmu village in Xay district, Oudomxay province in northeastern Laos

Dining out with breakfast by the stream.

Developed by Forestry Area Conservation Ecological Tourism (FACET), Nam Kat Yorla Pa is a relatively new eco-tourism site but one that has quickly become popular with domestic and international tourists alike.
It has become the dream destination for many visitors.
The name Nam Kat Yorla Pa comes from the Khmu language in wide use in the local area.
FACET president Mr Somphet Maopaseuth spoke to Vientiane Times about the popular spot.
“Yorla in Khmu language means to travel. Pa means forest. So Nam Kat Yorla Pa means travel to (the) Nam Kat forest.”
 “My intention  was to develop Nam Kat Yorla Pa project as a conservation initative.
“When I first saw the richness of Nam Kat, I wanted to protect it in our generation before it is damaged.
“I studied and visited ecotourism projects in many countries before starting the project.”
“The master plan was created by an international expert. Our priority is conservation and local people’s participation while providing a travel service product that is responding to the market.
“We focus on the local community participation, train local people and hire them in the project.”  
“Now, about 200 local people, mainly ethnic Khmu, are working with us on the project.”
Nam Kat Yorla Pa opened to the public early last year.
It boasts an outstanding and stunning location with abundant natural beauty and timeless irreplaceable ecological values of the Nam Kat forest in Oudomxay province.
Nestled into a prime location along a natural stream, the resort promises a comfortable stay while immersed in environmental wonder.    
About 60 bungalows are set up along the Nam Kat stream.
Ample space and foliage between each provide quiet surroundings intended to let visitors share nature yet enjoy both shared and private spaces.
Accommodation options include eco-room, superior room, deluxe, pool villa, tent safari, tent camping and tree-house. 
Wake up in the early morning and take time to explore the site.
At the other side of the resort, there is a garden with passion fruit and grape vines where a variety of additional fruits and vegetables are grown.
Here, you can enjoy the foggy mountain views and highland flowers in bloom.     
Walking around the area, you will always hear the sound of the water flow as several small streams run through the site.
From the room, walk along a wooden bridge amid the chorus of birds singing.
Eventually, you reach the delightful restaurant with attractive indoor and outdoor settings.
In the morning it is best to sit in the outdoor area along the banks of the brook as you have breakfast while enjoying the mountain views and experience incredible natural land soundscapes.
It might prove your most memorable breakfast ever!
The cuisine is also served using a variety of ingredients for local and international dishes put together by a master chief.      
Just next to the restaurant, there is a medium-sized swimming pool.
The pool is clean and crisp and reflects the mountain view.
Using the swimming pool on a warm day is wisest. Otherwise, it might prove too fresh for you to relish fully!
For those keeping up (or re-engaging with) their daily regimen, there is an outdoor fitness centre not far from the pool.
It has a roof but is wall-less to let you enjoy the surrounding natural atmosphere while doing exercises.
After exercise, you can enjoy a sauna and spa or massage. You even just sit quietly reading a book or just enjoy the moment in this atmosphere.
In the evening after dinner at the resort’s restaurant, don’t miss the local show at the Khmu village.
A short walk or drive from the resort and located in the centre of the village, there is the intimate venue where the locals perform their music and relish chance to dance with visitors.
Every night, performance programs with up to five acts can be enjoyed including local music, dance and singing.
Bamboo helps create the unique sound.
It is not too hard for visitors to observe and learn and enjoy.
Any time of the year is fine, yet during the Khmu festival in January, there are additional experiences to enjoy.
Nam Kat Yorla Pa provides ample opportunities for adventure activities, jungle tours and rainforest treks.
There are 48 official tour activities over 600 hectares in the project area.
Activities awaiting exploration include zip-lining, tree house stays, hiking, rock climbing, waterfalls, hiking, cycling, visiting giant trees, elephant trekking, riding ATV, nightly star gazing, target shooting, water parks, activities for children, tent camping, picnic, Khmu village visits, cultural performances and costume experiences.
Visitors can welcome the fact that environmental conservation is well managed.
In this part of the Nam Kat catchment, there are plenty of natural fish swimming and no litter in sight.
The resort enforces fines if anyone catches fish or throws rubbish.
While on the way to visit the waterfall, a passenger truck driver stopped the car.
He went out to pick up an empty drinking bottle on the side of the road and returned to the car.
All are obliged to observe the stringent regulations on environmental and waste management and share a passion for protecting the environment
The resort is no overnight venture. Surveys commenced in 2011 and began construction, and in early 2016, it opened for the first time. 
“Our development plan is divided into three phases; 2011-2016, 2016 -2021 and 2021 – 2025,” Mr Somphet explained.
“We can say that so far we have managed results succeeding our plans.
“We are getting well known internationally and clients increasing every day, and we’ve received awards of excellence including from Trip Advisor.” 
Mr Khamoui, a Lao-American visitor from California, was charmed.
“Yorla Pa’s natural and cultural environment is impressive, and they have sound environmental management. I highly recommend Yorla Pa as a must-go-to place while visiting Oudomxay,” Mr Khamoui said.
Ms Kate Louise, from Brisbane, Australia, agreed.
“It’s wonderful as the room is set up along the stream. So every night and every morning you can hear the sound of the flowing river and experience being so close to nature. 
“I think the price extraordinarily low. Even though I chose the lowest priced room, it’s very nice space with a river view. I love it and plan to bring my parents here.”    
 “I heard about this place last year, and wanted to come,” Mrs Vilavanh Chanthalansy, a visitor from Vientiane, said.
“When I arrived here, it’s so beautiful more than I expected; I didn’t know that our own country was such a gorgeous place. The attractive nature helped me relax and feel healthy.” 

 

By Keoxomphou Sakdavong
(Latest Update December 9, 2017)


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