In early 2003, I visited for the first time Ban Nammat Gao and Ban Nammat Mai, two Akha villages in the protected NamHa Biodiversity area, high in the hills above Luang Namtha town. These villages had been selected by the Unesco sponsored eco-tourism development project as destination for tourism treks. It took six hours on foot to reach Ban Nammat Gao, following steep jungle trails.
The Project had built a small guest lodge which could house the maximum eight visitors allowed per group, plus their two guides.
The following day, a nearly seven hour trek to Ban Nammat Mai, and the third day six hours to get back to Luang Namtha.
My first visit to these two villages was an eyeopener, and I visited them twice again in the next few months, and again in december 2003. Each time on my repeat visits, I took back many of the photographs taken on my earlier visits, which were very much appreciated by the recipients. They also enabled me to take more photographs inside the houses, and build up a good general picture of life in these hillvillages.
Unfortunately for the eco-tourism project, both villages have since moved from the protected area to sites closer to the road and to town.
Recently, a visitor called cat, has added some very informative comments to my comments, on photo #5,#6,#15,#51,#58,#72.
I strongly encourage further comments from those who have more information then I have.
Technical note for photographers:
In 2002/2003, I used Sony Cybershot 717, later 828. Some of the colour isn't as refined as my later portfolios shot on Canon 20 and 5D. Those shots in the Akha village portfolio that do not have exif data were shot on 35 mm Contax rangefinder, and scanned. The interior shots were sometimes done on high speed colour print film, which results in grainy images.
© Kees Sprengers - Ethnic Diversity in Luang Namtha - Laos