The Akha Experience is a 3 day trek through the hills near Muang Sing, Luang Namtha province, which allows visitors to the district an opportunity to experience aspects of the Akha way of life. The trek was set up in 2005 through an initiative of GTZ (a German development organization) in cooperation with Exotissimo, a travel company operating in Laos. Linkto Exotissimo webpage
The trek sets off near a temple on the top of a hill overlooking Muang Sing Valley, and winds its way over the hills and through the jungle. The first day, lunch is prepared by the Akha Guides from products grown in the village or collected from the jungle. The lunch is eaten next to a waterfall in the forest. On arrival in the first village, the visitors are housed in a specially built lodge. This is built in traditional style, but furnished withsome un-traditional luxury such as a solar heated hot shower, very welcome after a long, sometimes muddy trek.
More traditional Akha food is cooked, the visitors are offered a drink of rice whiskey, and sometimes a dance or music performance. The next day, a walk around the village, and the trek continues, sometimes through jungle, sometimes through ricefields. An effort is made to give the visitors an opportunity ofexperiencing some of the things the village people do in the course of their daily life, riding a buffalo, cutting (or planting) rice, harvesting cotton,carrying firewood, spinning cotton etc.
I was asked by GTZ to photograph the experience for their initial publicity campaign. Due to my busy schedule, I had to leave on arrival in the second overnight village, but it was a great trek, and maybe one day I’ll do the whole three day trip.
The primary purpose of the project is to enable thevillagers to earn some money, to improve their living condition.