19 January 2017
This unforgettable adventure takes you to all the hidden gems of Southern Laos. You'll visit ancient ruined temples, marvel at magnificent waterfalls, ride on an elephant and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the elusive Irrawaddy freshwater dolphin. Along the way you'll have a chance to learn more about the lifestyles of the people who make this untouched part of the world their home.
Your trip begins as you arrive in Pakse, to be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Here there'll be time to relax before this evening's welcome drinks and tour briefing with your fellow travellers and tour leader.
This morning you'll travel by road to the lush Bolaven Plateau, Laos' premier coffee-growing region. Along the way you'll stop at the impressive 100-metre Tad Fane falls, before continuing through the coffee and cardamom plantations and fruit groves. You'll take a guided tour of a small Fairtrade organic coffee farm, where you'll learn more about the cultivation process and sample both the arabica and robusta brews. Next you'll visit the nearby Tad Yuang falls, before continuing on to your bungalow-style accommodation to relax and get to know the resident elephants.
After breakfast this morning, you'll drive to Kiet Ngong village and set out for a short elephant trek to the top of Phu Asa hill, to see the ruins of a warrior-training headquarters and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding wetlands. Afterwards, you'll travel by road and a short boat trip to tranquil Khone Island in the far south of Laos. During the dry season, when the level of the Mekong recedes, thousands of sandbanks and small islands become visible here, hence the area's name: the 4,000 Islands. In the late afternoon you'll have time at leisure to explore Khone Island and soak up the laidback atmosphere and graceful hospitality for which the area is renowned.
After breakfast, you'll be driven to Ban Hang Done village for a boat trip in search of the Irrawaddy freshwater dolphin. The endangered dolphin lives in small numbers in deep-water pockets of the Mekong. You have a good chance of catching a glimpse of one this morning, but it's by no means guaranteed, so keep your eyes peeled! Afterwards, you'll return to the island to visit Li Phi falls, then walk the short distance back to your accommodation. On the way, you'll see the remains of the railway built by the French during their time as colonial occupiers of Laos, and the French-built bridge which connects Done Khone with Done Det Island. After lunch, you're at leisure and may like to hire a bicycle from your hotel or just take a stroll along the attractive waterfront area.
This morning you'll depart Done Khone after breakfast, returning to the mainland by boat. You'll then drive the short distance to Khonephapheng Falls, the largest falls in Southeast Asia in terms of water volume, before continuing to Ban Muang village, where you'll board the ferry to Champasak on the western side of the Mekong. This small village was the main town in southern Laos until the 1860s, and you can see its former glories reflected in the architecture, with many attractive old French mansions. After lunch, you'll visit the nearby Wat Phou World Heritage Site, the finest example of Khmer temple ruins outside Cambodia, before the drive to Champasak jetty for the boat transfer to idyllic Done Daeng Island, your base for the next two nights.
After a leisurely breakfast, you'll set out for a bike ride around the northern perimeter of Done Daeng Island, taking in the quiet shoreline villages, inland hamlets, rice fields and swaying coconut palms. You'll have the rest of the day at leisure to explore by bicycle or on foot or just relax by the hotel pool, perhaps with a cocktail or two. This evening there'll be a chance to reflect on your adventures with the rest of your group over a sumptuous farewell dinner.
This morning your trip comes to an end as you transfer back to Pakse airport.
Classic fr £836pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated