Immerse Yourself in Kamu Lodge

The best travel experiences are when you can truly immerse yourself in a new culture…and they are often the hardest to come by. So how can you gain access into fascinating far-flung communities without relying on chance encounters or an Abercrombie & Kent price tag? Well in Laos, the answer is Kamu Lodge. Thirty kilometers up stream from Luang Prabang, this 20-hut lodge was built in conjunction with the neighboring Kamu tribe as a way to preserve and honor their traditional way of life—farming the land, fishing the rivers, and crafting everything by hand—by inviting guest to be apart of it. By teaching their trades and sharing traditions with guests, villagers not only gain income by working at the lodge but a large portion of the proceeds goes directly back into the community in the form of schools, health care, and a micro-financing development fund. Of all the accommodations we stayed at during our honeymoon around the worldKamu Lodge was easily one of the most enriching.

Our boat went full steam up the Mekong river along the limestone cliffs and docked on the sandy beaches of Kamu Lodge. The location felt a world away from the city where we started.

3 Kamu Lodge

The local villagers escorted us to our villas made of thatch roofs, canvas walls, and traditional furniture.  Our beds were thoughtfully decorated with bougainvillea petals and the bathroom was beautifully done and fully equipped. Far from roughing it, we took a hot shower (heated with solar) and then met the masseuse for an incredible couples massage.

The entire camp is centered around a working rice paddy with the restaurant and bar weaved into the terraces. Sitting on the patio, watching the emerald blades blow in the wind, and smelling the fertile earth beneath us, as we savored our homegrown rice with buffalo curry, was a one-of-a-kind dining experience.


After lunch, we took our first visit to the adjacent village to learn about local life. A baby had just been born so the community was celebrating the birth of their newest member with music and dancing. The houses here are small thatch dwellings with a single room for cooking and sleeping. Not much more is needed since most people spend their days in nature or the center of the village with family and friends.


Rice is the most important staple of life in Southeast Asia and we were about to learn how to grow it. A farmer motioned me to take off my shoes and come into the paddy. I step into the water, the mud squishing between my toes, and he hands me a seedling to plant into the earth. The technique is to corkscrew it into the ground about eight inches apart from the previous plan and in just a few months it will fill into a field of mature rice, ready to harvest.

After we learned how to grow our food, we learned how to catch it. This stared with a lesson archery followed by net fishing. While most Kamu aren’t hunting with a crossbow anymore, fishing is still a daily practice. The technique is to hold the net at the edges, wind up your torso and throw it as far and flat as you can. This is a workout—especially when it can take dozens of tries to catch a fish!

We went to dinner and were surprised with a private table in the paddy! It was magical to dine in the field with the glow of the moon and candlelight. We finished our meal and were invited to a special performance by the village. Sitting around the fire we took in traditional song and dance for a nightcap to a very special day.

The next morning we took a relaxing morning stroll along the shore and village, before heading back to Luang Prabang. Kamu Lodge has 2-day or 3-day packaged that include meals, activities, hikes and ample time to soak up the local culture and environs. No matter how long you stay, you’ll return with a an experience you won’t soon forget.

Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog and Trip Coaches or those looking to extensively travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @HoneyTrek.

Top 10 Luxury Adventure Resorts In Europe, Asia, and Oceania

luxury adventure resorts

The top ten picks for luxury adventure resorts in Europe, Asia and Oceania each utilize their unique location, culture and activity to offer once-in-a-lifetime vacations:


Mountain resorts are prime spots for outdoor activity and breathtaking vistas. Arlberg slopes in Austria have become “the cradle of Alpine skiing” ever since Thurnhers Alpenhof came into the scene. Know for it’s unrivaled snow sports – 80 mountain railways/lifts, 260 km prepared slopes, 180 km virgin snow slopes – this winter destination provides service to match the splendor of panoramic alpine views. A free-of-charge instructor is on hand to give tips and the gourmet food is exactly what’s needed after a day of snow and spa.

Another winter-time resort that becomes equally impressive during warmer seasons is the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Graubhenden, Arson, Switzerland. Here guests can golf at the highest 18-hole course in Europe and take a hot air balloon tour afterwards. A complimentary Arosa card means free admission into many local spots while various land and air transportation options make getting around an ease.


Medieval towns set a unique backdrop for The Banyan Tree in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. Golf awaits between horseback, bike or foot excursions into Baoshan Stone Village. Natural sights like the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain add fascination to the already stunning medieval setting.

Immerse yourself in the bamboo jungles of Thailand by visiting Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. At Chiangmai Rai guests are at the intersection of three countries and many cultures. Among the things to do are all-terrain vehicle excursions, Hill tribe visits, jungle trekking, nature walks and river boat excursions. There are also opportunities to interact with some favorite local residents – the elephants.

Gayana Eco Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, has dedicated itself to preserving and re-generating marine ecosystems. This resort promotes non-motorized water sports and has a PADI certified dive center to accommodate divers of all skill levels. Guests can experience underwater marvels through snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing. Outside of the water there are mangroves to explore, jungles to trek through, and lots of sun to soak in.

In the mystic deserts of Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarters a luxury gem can be found – The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. The experience is rich and picturesc, from the Anantara Spa to sun-kissed camel rides across impressive dunes. Private villas are decorated with Middle Eastern fabrics and artifacts. Wind-down time is made exquisite with four gourmet dining venues, a kids club, business center, library and more.

On the edge of India’s Rathambore Tiger Preserve is luxury resort Oberoi Vanyaviles, where guests stay in sophisticated tents featuring finely embroidered canopies, luxury bathrooms and private outdoor decks for sunbathing. When relaxing at the spa you’ll take in the scent of nearby fruit groves. In the luxury dining hall local specialties are prepared and served among the hand-painted fresco ambience.

Few locations are as magnificent as the Himalayas in Shimla, India, where the Wildflower Hall forms a tranquil sanctuary. This appropriately named fairy tale resort is the former residence of colonial era Lord Kitchener. The original artwork has been kept while the property has been renewed to accomadate private spa suites and pavilions. Trails wind through fragrant pine forests and gourmet picnics envelope guests in old world charm. Among the virgin woods of Pine Cedar guests are invited to river raft, trek, mountain bike, ice skate, play billiards or try archery.


Adventure characterizes New Zealand, and Matakauri Lodge is situated at the heart of it all in Queenstown. On the banks of Lake Wakatipu this luxury resort offers 12 mountain view suites and villas as well as the four bedroom owner’s cottage. Horse riding, trout fishing, scenic flights and tours of wineries are made available through the spa resort where knowledgeable staff consult with guests on where to river raft, bungee jump, jet boat, hike, heli-ski and more.

The Royal Pines Resort, Australia, is a world renown destination for golf enthusiasts. The 21-hole golf course with state of the art driving range has earned host privileges for the Australian PGA championship through the next 5 years. Conference and event facilities cater to groups while the day spa and soon-to-be-completed gymnasium make the resort a Gold Coast relaxation leader.

[photo credit: Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre via photopin cc]

Jetwing Yala: Chasing Asia’s Leopards

As we drive off on board the safari jeeps, the dusty red, clay road ahead of us is only just a modest start to our prolific wildlife explorations for the day, at the Yala National Park – the Park is known to have one of the highest leopard concentrations in the world while it is also home to a number of Asian elephants, sloth bears, peacocks, crocodiles and a plethora of flora and fauna.


Our driver, a young, funny fellow, well trained in leopard spotting from any considerable distance otherwise unattainable to the human eye, is a refreshing burst of jokes, combating our fatigue from the subduing heat.

Nothing on the road yet, some complain, until we suddenly come to a shrieking halt: an unidentifiable creature leisurely crossing our path.

This is how daily life unfolds at Yala, Jetwing’s newest hotel in the midst of some of Asia’s paramount wildlife. Blissfully insulated twenty minutes away from the main road, what initially looks like army quarters from afar is soon revealed to be a zen hotel surrounded by lush greenery, set on a 38 acre land adjoining the Indian Ocean. The panoramic views are sure to make you gasp!


Jetwing Yala exudes simple elegance from every corner, while focusing on sustainability; it hosts the largest privately owned solar park in Sri Lanka. Whether it’s the surrounding wild habitat, or the interior’s colors and details, the property offers its guests a back to nature feeling. All guestrooms (with a choice of Superior and Deluxe accommodations) exhibit muted, earthy tones, with a splash of turquoise or red.

The King coconut I was zealously sipping out of as I walked into my room, perfectly matched the green tones of the canopy bed. The Superior room I would now call home was no ordinary space, but a spacious dwelling to rest, dine and lounge on my very own terrace.


The finest feature, however, is surely the bathroom. Larger than most hotel rooms in other parts of the world, this bathroom teased me from the very beginning, with its showerhead under the clear blue sky and liberating feeling, due to lack of unnecessary doors, bulky bathtubs and slippery floors.

One other extraordinary feature is the infinity swimming pool, with seemingly fresh water from the ocean. Don’t be surprised to see guests stay well into the night into their robes, having transitioned from the pool onto the beach where cocktails are served. Jetwing Yala is just the place to do so. From a blanket full of stars to a first glimpse of a burning sunrise, your stay here is full of rewards.


Dining is another. From lotus curries and the island’s spiciest dishes, to Western delicacies and Japanese delights, to a sinful palette of desserts, Jetwing Yala is a gastronomic journey in itself that is both diverse, as it is delicious.


So grab your Lion (the Sri Lankan beer, what else?!), and join the beach party for the night. This may be Jetwing Yala, but no lions, or leopards, for you tonight …