Savour a taste of Laotian country life, and some delicious coffee, as you criss-cross the rural heartland in an ex-army jeep. Your guide, and barista, is Mr Khamsone Suvannakhily, who is a passionate advocate for the local brew, the Bolaven Plateau itself, and the many communities who call it home.
Travelling is as much about the characters you’re lucky enough to meet along the way as the places you visit. Hop into a rugged looking jeep with Mr Khamsone Suvannakhily, or Kham as you’ll soon come to know him, and learn the fascinating and inspiring story of how he went from helping on coffee plantations as a child to becoming a qualified guide, to eventually opening his own business: Mystic Mountain Coffee.
Unlike many trips around the Bolaven Plateau which end up following one familiar route, a tour with Kham takes you further into the plateau’s less-visited interior. Here you’ll be welcomed into the villages of some of the many people who plough the soil, pick and dry the fruit, and sort the beans behind every cup of his company’s coffee.
Pass through lush plantations, stopping at waterfalls to take a few moments or swim at a secluded spot. Throughout your drive, Kham will weave in enlightening details about the natural environment and ecosystems, as well as the tragic history of the Indochina wars which are still evidenced by numerous visible bomb craters.
Bump along the red dirt roads to Mystic Mountain, where you’ll get to see the master at work! Expect a detailed explanation of the full coffee producing process, with tips on how to tell if coffee is roasted to perfection by smell and sound alone. It's fascinating, whether you’re a coffee afficado or never touch a drop. After your tour, stay overnight at the plantation in simple, farmhouse-style accommodation.
Ask Kham about his vision for the future, and he’s likely to tell you he wants to encourage more travellers to visit his plantation, and to show them the wider Bolaven Plateau with its beautiful surroundings and rural communities. We certainly think he’s succeeding. A visit here is a great insight into local life, a lesson in how tourism can bring income and opportunity to marginalised communities, and a reminder of the importance of truly fair trade.
16 days to see the very best of Laos.