FEATURE: Experience one of the longest ziplines at Somphamit Waterfall Park
CHAMPASSAK, Laos (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Si Phan Don or four thousand islands is a location in Laos that is well known among travellers around the world, and its attractions include Somphamit Waterfall Park, which has one of the longest and biggest waterfalls in Southeast Asia.
For those who love adventure activities, the region also has the longest zipline in southern Laos, and this is a new activity that is drawing many tourists there.
I visited the park in January with other media personnel as part of an activity organised by the Tourism Marketing Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. Though the place is my father’s hometown, I had never been there before.
So, it was very exciting when I first caught a glimpse of the Jewel of the Mekong, a laidback, sleepy, charmingly little gem of a place nestled in a part of Laos located along the Cambodian border, and as the name suggests, consisting of a lot of tiny islands scattered in the vast Mekong Delta.
We travelled there by boat after our van stopped at the jetty at Nakasang village, which is not very far from Pakxe city. It has a car park for visitors and the village authority monitors the vehicles.
The area is serviced by more than 130 boats, including small ones that can ferry 10 passengers, medium sized ones that can carry more than 15 people, and large boats capable of accommodating more than 50 people. The fares are quite cheap and the boats are safe as they are equipped with life jackets for everyone.
During the boat ride, we saw many big trees in the middle of the river and a lot of islands. We also saw herds of buffaloes swimming happily in the water and people living on both banks of the river.
One thing that I enjoyed was travellers waving and greeting people on other boats that passed by, and the smiles of the other travellers added to the festive atmosphere of the boat ride.
There are many reasonably priced guesthouses and people who want to save money can also opt for local homestays because they are cheaper.
We arrived at our destination at around 4 pm and decided to stay at a guesthouse on the river front for one night. The next morning, we took a minibus for the short drive to Somphamit Waterfall Park.
The highlight of our visit was experiencing the longest zipline in the region, which is more than 2,000 metres long. There are seven lines with a rest stop on the highest tree at the centre of the waterfall, and people can stop to drink coffee or tea and take in the wonderful view.
Before you get on the zipline, the staff will instruct you how to control things and closely monitor you. You can also make a video clip of this activity.
After you finish the activity, it is great to try the wonderful fruit juice at the nearby restaurant and watch the area surrounding the park. A lot of visitors like taking photos, swimming and eat the delicious food in the laidback atmosphere.
Travellers can waits until the sunset and watch the beautiful scenery around the waterfall, and this time is especially suitable for those who love nature, because the sunlight is reflected by the cascading water. The park has a lot of bamboo trees and beautiful flowers, and you can hear the birds chirping in the trees.
The General Manager of Sompamit Waterfall Park, Mr Aongart Phosalath, said: “In the near future, we plan to build tree-top houses for travellers who want to stay at the park, and we will set up an organic farm to promote agricultural tourism and to contribute to the local community.
“We will put in place more security systems for visitors. We have already put up some posters to remind travellers to be careful and not to go near dangerous zones.”
The new zipline was opened to travellers at the end of last year. Sompamit Waterfall Park has a lot of activities other than the zipline, such as watching dolphins in the Mekong River, watching the sunrise at Hua Khon zone, taking bicycle rides through the village and sampling the local food.