World Travel has led me to some interesting places. Just about an hour auto ride out of Luang Prabang, in central Laos through the back lands and rice paddy fields, up the winding hills and mountains is an elegant multiple levels waterfall with turquoise blue waters and infinity ledge pools. What is the name of this magical place? Kuang Si Falls.
I would rank Kuang Si Falls in one of South East Asia’s must see natural wonders if you are making it out this way. The beautiful lush habitat will make you feel like you are alive, and give you deep perspective.
You can get there from the main city by Tuk Tuk, songthaew, motorbike, or any other form of transport. Earlier I had flagged down a songthaew truck and I had hitched a ride with a few other back packers, a couple from South Africa, a young gent from Switzerland and two french guys.
After the bumpy ride, we all jumped out of the back and started up the hill to see the waterfall. Apparently If you make it this far into Laos or your south east Asian back packing experience then you should see this cascading natural wonder.
Once into the jungle I felt I was trekking through a movie. All the sights and sounds added to the falling water of the Kuang Si Falls was unreal from the sounds to my ears to the giant insects flying around. The exotic insects that whizzed by my ears, danced in the leaves above my head. They were indeed enormous leaves interwoven with Tarzan swinging rope vines and of course the colorful wild flowers growing from greens and massive trunks of trees sprawled out of the earth were absolutely breathtaking. Was this real?
Then there was the water, and oh was it beautiful. There were a few options to enjoy these pools, one was to just relax at the base and soak up the sun in one of the many overflowing infinity pools collecting water from the massive multiple level waterfalls up stream. The second option would be to trek a bit up the mountain to the central pools, and of course the third would be to make the hike to the top of the falls where you can stand at the top and overlook the mountainous valley and all the turquoise pools below.
I opted for the the third and most difficult.
Before I left this morning I hadn’t planned on trekking, and I just wanted to shoot a few photos and lay in one of the many pools all day. However by the time I arrived and saw this massive tiered beast of falls, I instantly said “I’m climbing that”. So knowing full well that I was in for a hike I partnered up with the two guys from France just to be safe and we set out for the hike up the right flank.
There was a trail but it was hard to keep in plain sight at times as we started to rise in elevation. We scaled up roots and traversed over deep foliage, at some points the trail or lack there of was so slick it was better off to climb parallel to it pulling your self up by big roots and boulders. It seems that raining season has started so the would be trail up has been washed over by mud and foliage.
Remembering the wise words of my uncle Jim back when I was a boy scout to always have at least two limbs of your four limbs positioned on the terrain in case one slipped. It was pretty slippery, it took lots of work reaching and pulling onto roots and branches, sliding a bit stopping to sip on some water and wiping the sweet away from my brow. The two French guys didn’t talk much, but I did look out for each of them gong up, I figured it was best to be polite and a team player in case something happened or i needed help.
realizing that my lack of hiking equipment was taking a toll on me i slowed my pace. My Vibram Soles finally ripped after 2 years of traveling around the world. The sole had split open. They have been all over and now are warn down beyond belief. I wish those guys would hook me up with a new pair. I must admit it was a difficult climb up and even down. But once I arrived at the top, it was breath taking.
At the top the falls there were several pools that overlapped the edge, at this time I was particularly careful with my camera. After getting pretty wet and slipping a few different times, I decided best bet for now was in sliding it away in a waterproof pouch I had brought. Then I walked through to the other side holding onto some branches and migrating slowly to the other side.
I sat for a bit enjoyed the Laotian jungle views and the freshness of water flowing below me, every particle, every drop migrating together in sync with one another. The power of nature is breathtaking.
I saw a second tier below of falls landing into three bays of pools that all fed into one drop off. That was going to be where I went for the rest of the afternoon. Just how would I get there. By the time I looked up my new found French guys were ducking away in the tracks, they wanted to head back down on a mission to go swim. I wanted to explore and figure out a way down into what seemed like the best view.
After about 20 minutes I figured out a way down, it was just that I had to walk through some water and up a staircase of mini falls. Dodging some close calls and a few slips off the edge but I was able to get to the pools. Alone and enjoying the rest of the day until later a few people from New Zealand yelled to me on directions up to these pools. I gave them the way.
I soaked up the day in reflection of life and all that I was right there, in the moment. The falls are spectacular and my photos do not give the justice they deserve. I hope you enjoy the falls.