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Product Development

Excellent opportunities for forest trekking, home-stays in ethnic minority villages, rafting and kayaking, cave exploration, mountain bike tours and visits to a number of archaeological sites have been developed by local tour operators and the Nam Ha Ecoguide Service using the community-based ecotourism (CBE) development approach created by the Nam Ha Project Team. All (CBE) programmes in and around Luang Namtha’s Nam Ha NPA were set up in close consultation with local communities based on the project’s objectives, and place high emphasis on local ownership of tourism-related services, local retention of financial benefits and a strong natural and cultural heritage conservation component. For more information on how to participate in locally-guided CBT programmes developed with assistance from the Nam Ha Project, visit the Wildside-Green Discovery or Boatlanding website.

 

 

Field Surveys

Beginning in December 1999, the NHEP began survey work to identify potential trekking routes and river trips in and around the Nam Ha NBCA. Surveys were carried out in cooperation with the NBCA Management Unit, Provincial Police, Tourism Office and Office of Information and Culture. With cartographic data provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the team identified two promising activities: an overnight trek and a 1-2 day boat trip on the Namtha River. The selection of these two activities was based on:

  • Villagers interest in developing the activity, and their willingness to host international tourists
  • The aesthetic and cultural attractiveness of the routes
  • The logistic feasibility of developing these activities
    Existing trail conditions and safety

Testing the Trekking Route

The trekking route was tested by 32 international tourists from February - July 2000. The trial treks were guided by NHEP staff and employees of the NBCA Management Unit. Overall, trial trekkers and villagers were highly satisfied with the pilot trips, and both parties had useful suggestions regarding the development of the route. Since these initial trial trips, over 200 people have now participated in the trek. Based on feedback from villagers and tourists, the treks have been continuously improved.

 

 

Boat Trip on the Namtha River

Transporting goods and people on the Namtha River from Luang Namtha to the Mekong has been a traditional mode of transportation for generations. This route offers spectacular views of the Nam Ha NBCA and exciting rapids. Survey data collected from international tourists by NHEP staff indicate that 82% are interested in river trips to the confluence of the Nam Ha and Nam Tha Rivers. Project staff approached the boatmen’s association with this data, and worked with the boatmen to increase their understanding of international tourists, as well as how to market the trip. Since organizing and promoting the activity, the boatmen report that at least 20 trips have been undertaken.

 

Gaeng Ngua Picnic Area

After careful participatory planning with Sopsim Village, the project team began the development and promotion of Gaeng Ngua Picnic Area in February 2000. Approximately 20 km south of Luang Namtha on the east bank of the Namtha River, Gaeng Ngua Picnic Area is accessible by boat, bicycle or tuk–tuk. Village ownership and management of the site ensures local people share in the benefits from the growing number of travelers visiting Luang Namtha.