Saturday, June 26, 2010


Many of the volunteers who have come to Luang Prabang go kayaking on the Nam Khan river. You can go for half a day or if you are feeling more energetic you can spend the whole day on the river. I went back in the middle of February and am going to go again before I leave. The trip starts with a scenic drive out along the river. When you reach the starting point you get kitted out with life jackets and helmets get some basic instructions and a safety briefing. Then you're off. There's a gentle start to the trip downstream giving everyone chance to practice paddling and steering the kayaks. Before long you encounter the first of the rapids. At the moment the water levels in the river are fairly low and the 2 or 3 rapids you encounter are fairly easy to negotiate. Even so a few people don't make the turn and get tipped out of their kayak. After about 2 hours on the river and a couple more rapids later there is a stop for lunch. The kayaks are pulled up on to a beach below a small village and you get to watch some of the local children swimming and playing in the river. Lunch is served 'Lao style' with various banana leaf packages being unwrapped to reveal a good selection of traditional Lao food for everyone to share. There is always more than enough food to go round and after everyone has finished the children from the village help themselves to what's left. After a quick dip in the river to cool off its back into the kayaks for the final stretch. It's a much quieter section of the river with only one small section of white water to negotiate. This gives you chance to really take in the scenery. The river passes through a valley between the hills with small villages set back on the banks. The trip ends at another small village. After the kayaks are loaded onto the truck you walk up through the village before jumping on and heading back to town. It's a great way to spend a day, get some gentle exercise and see more of the Lao countryside.