Slicing through the turgid, slow-moving swirl of the Mekong River is nothing short of a quintessential Southeast Asian travel experience. And being guided through these waters by longtail, ferry, tin boat or otherwise is a privilege I have enjoyed more than a few times. One of my most memorable journeys on this life-giving artillery was the trip to and from Kamu Lodge, an eco-retreat sequestered in the hills of Laos’ Oudomxay Province, upstream from Luang Prabang. It’s been more than two years since I visited Oudomxay, but a short trip to Kamu Lodge is still something I recommend to fellow travellers whenever I get the chance.
Located along the Mekong’s northern reaches, Kamu Lodge is a low-impact retreat that aims to protect the area’s ecology and sustain the integrity of the local community’s cultural and ethnic heritage. The lodge is quite unique in that it sits a mere stone’s throw from the nearest village – and purportedly supports a number of its residents, too. Kamu Lodge also plays a role in facilitating micro credit opportunities and healthcare for village residents, and encourages guests to donate school supplies to the local classrooms.
The lodge’s twenty freestanding tent/thatch hybrids can be rented by the night. Connected by a combination of winding dirt paths and boardwalks, a restaurant sits at the heart of the lodge complex, surrounded on all sides by rice paddies and a roving water buffalo. Without phone reception or WIFI, Kamu Lodge also provides a set program of activities for guests that is designed to provide an insight into village life – think lessons in rice planting, fishing net throwing and crossbow firing.
Part of the organised itinerary also takes guests on a guided walk to the nearby Khok Pou Model Village, a modest settlement overlooked by a massive Buddhist monastery.
While there, my guides and I spent some time with this man, who was terribly generous in explaining the process of bamboo weaving, and allowed me to take some photos of his handiwork.
I travelled to Kamu Lodge in December 2013 through an organised trip with Tiger Trail, Luang Prabang. Have you visited Kamu Lodge or elsewhere in Oudomxay Province? What were your impressions of the region?