Bill Robison, International Expeditions’ Director of Product Development, spent the first part of 2009 in Laos and Vietnam researching locations for our new 15-day itinerary. Follow Bill’s series of updates on these fascinating countries, as well as how he’s put together a Laos and Vietnam tour that covers the spectacular natural beauty and culture of Southeast Asia.

Laos is absolutely full of opportunities to visit and overnight in villages; eat at restaurants that help at risk kids; buy products direct from the workers; help educate the children of Laos; hike the wilds of the 20 National Protected Areas (NPA) that cover 14% of the country's mass (Laos is the most heavily forested and country and has the lowest population density in southeast Asia); and spend your adventure dollar contributing to the betterment of the people and places you visit.

kingfisher-bungalow1I found an excellent example of this at Kingfisher Ecolodge just outside the village of Khiet Ngong near Xe Pian NPA. You might be different, but when I think of "ecolodges," I usually think of simple accommodations. Maybe hot water (maybe not!), simple food, lots of bugs, electricity if you're lucky, and generally a "oneness" with nature that offers an eco-friendly, but possibly somewhat uncomfortable experience.

kingfisher-deck1Kingfisher Ecolodge has achieved a level of comfort, taste and true eco-friendliness that I have found nowhere else! Upon arrival, I prepared myself to accept some inconveniences in order to fully experience the nature of Xe Pian NPA. Bug spray and hand sanitizer at the ready, I set out for my bungalow.  Surprise! I walked into a large room, with separate shower and toilet, two sinks, full solar-powered electricity and hot water, as well as a ceiling fan and plenty of room for luggage. Best of all was the verandah — complete with a big hammock and enough room to have guests and a cocktail as I looked out over the sprawling wetlands of Xe Pian NPA. No comfort, other than TV (could still watch movies on my laptop), was denied.

Learn more about the food (ITALIAN!) at Kingfisher in my next blog!