Text by VIVEKAN JEYANGARAN
Photos by SWISSCONTACT & BART VERWEIJ
First published on Champa Meuanglao
The Bolaven Plateau, an ancient volcanic landscape, is home to an abundance of waterfalls, coffee plantations, villages, and deep layers of forest. The plateau, in Southern Laos, is also home to Tad Tayicseua, one of the most beautiful falls in the area, which feels like one of the few places on earth that has yet to be exposed to the modern world.
Trekking in this unexplored landscape is an experience I will never forget.
Clambering through the pristine forests, I was amazed by the natural diversity. Exotic trees, fruits, leaves, and chirping birds. With the waterfalls hidden deep in the dense undergrowth, my party and I trekked on in anticipation. As we got closer, the first thing that hit us was the terrific noise of the rushing water. Eventually the canopy would give way to sunrays as the imposing falls revealed themselves, leaving us captivated. An incredible sheer wall of water.
Tad Tayicseua Waterfalls Trek
You can trek through the forests and explore as many of the 7 waterfalls in the area as you please. The full trail takes at least 3 hours, depending on your fitness level. Be sure to bring good footwear that can endure the altering terrain.
Ja Rou Kiet Oak can be found at the viewpoint right on the campground and can be explored at either end of the trekking loop. It isn’t until you complete your descent that you truly understand the daunting presence of Kiet Oak. The rocks and boulders, exposed roots, and massive trees are the perfect canvas for the waterfalls crashing down aggressively on the massive boulders below. The rage of the falls is countered by the calming presence of the outgoing stream which you can follow for a more intimate experience with the falls.
Alternatively, follow the sign near the restaurant to begin the official trek. As you begin, you will hear Ja Rou Ha Lang, perhaps the most magnificent waterfall of the Bolaven Plateau, calling out to you. You can go so close to the falls that you can cool off in the refreshing mist. The journey takes you through vividly coloured flora and banana trees, which in the breeze seem to dance to the tune of the falling water.
Continue the trek and you can explore more elusive waterfalls nestled deeper in the forest like Ja Rou Man Druen! Further on, the canopy of the forest will open completely and lead you out into open valleys with great swimming options – such as Ja Rou Tha La Leui. Immersing yourself in the cool water truly enhances the experience.
Tad Tayicseua Homestay
For a more personal touch, consider staying the night. The Tad Tayicseua Homestay offers a shared dormitory, tents, and private bungalows for guests. Dine at the open-air restaurant looking out into the forest, enjoying the cool night breeze and a night sky dotted with stars. The manager, Mr. Jaluna Keodakham, and his staff are effortlessly charming and welcoming. Despite my poor Lao, they managed to tailor the meals for us (and accommodate my South Asian dietary requirements) just as we wanted, regardless of the menu.
The hospitality continued as our guide, Mr.Joy, took us through our adventures in the forest. He seamlessly weaved through the various natural obstacles and helped us navigate the pathways. Our guide has lived here since he was a boy, and is truly proud of the area. “I love welcoming visitors to Tad Tayicseua as I can share the memories of my childhood’ he told us. The staff were the epitome of Southern Laos” hospitality.
Retreating to the homestay after that exhausting day to share a meal and drinks with Mr. Jaluna and his staff, who always seemed to be smiling, was fabulous. You can unwind off the grid and reflect on your encounters with nature, but also meet the charming people of Laos, like those I had the privilege of spending the two days with.
The path from Pakse to Paksong is home to the gorgeous Tad Etu, Champi, Fane, and Yeuang falls. Tad Etu(KM35) is home to the Falls View Resort and a powerful waterfall that will keep you on your toes. Tad Champi, just three km past Tad Etu, provides a serene picnic spot right by the calming falls. Take a dip in the calm waters or enjoy their raft. Across Tad Champi is a road that will lead you to the Tad Fane Resort and its huge twin waterfalls dropping dramatically into a massive gorge. Two km down the road, you will come across Tad Yeuangwhere you will be spoiled by the picnicking areas, and a beautiful waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation.
Tad Tayicseua can be found 46km on the road leading due east of Paksong
or 96 km from Pakse. There will be a sign from the paved road leading you
down 5km of dirt road. Staying at the homestay is inexpensive and a great
way to get in touch with Lao culture. Learn more at tayicseua.com.