6. Landscape around Dong Hua Sao National Bio-Diversity Conservation Area (NBCA)
Dong Hua Sao is a vast mountainous area east of Pakse, including the Phou Phiang Bolaven mountain range. Maximum elevations go up to about 1,600 meters, in other words it is not the Alps, but an entirely different landscape than the "great plains" of Isaan, Thailand, 50 km west of here.
It is cold up here! This winter/or better: cold season is unusually long, everybody freezes in a country where the average summer temperatures are more around the 90s Fahrenheit to upper 90s. I am not entirely prepared for these low temperatures, especially at night!
The mountainous area was declared a protected bio-diversity protection zone in 1993.
The landscape is simply beautiful, the forests are majestic. The rainforest, at first sight "impenetrable", is somewhat decimated by illegal logging, clearing is done for the cultivation of coffee, and the teak wood creates an immense windfall for the logger. It is said the lady I presented in my previous blog entry, who currently builds herself the Chateau de Versailles on the Mekhong is largely behind the logging for coffee cultivation, since she owns, among many other businesses, also the Dao coffee company (http://www.daoheuanggroup.com/our-businesses-consumer/). I am too unfamiliar with Lao affairs to know more about all this.
The climate of the mountains is perfect for coffee; neighboring Vietnam mountain ranges, only about 80 km to the east from here, propelled this country now to become the biggest coffee exporter in the world, ahead of Brasil. Laos seems trying to follow suit.
The forests and steep valleys are dotted with numerous waterfalls, of which I experienced the E-Tu waterfall, near Highway 16 to Paksong, km35.
It is a steep climb down to the bottom, the cliffs are amazing, and where the cliffs turn into terrain less steep, banana trees grow in the wild. The water is ice-cold and clear. Trees show fascinating types of branches. It is very, very remote here, but spectacularly beautiful.