According to you, what is essential for a great motorbike tour ? A flawless organization, necessarily. Motorcycles in great condition, that’s for sure. But there is also another essential aspect that we care about: our presence on the field. When it’s time for an off-road motorcycle expedition, we don’t think twice, we go for it! Only few agencies make the effort to go on site. And yes, it's easy to set an itinerary with Google Map and it’s cheap ... But Laos is a developing country that evolves very fast. So, only an exploration can secure the fact that tracks really exist and are rideable.
At Off Road Laos Adventures, we regularly go on survey to make sure that our tours are always real adventures. Our team of bikers just comes back from 9 days to the confines of North Laos, this is the opportunity to tell you a little more about it.
Why do we go scouting around ?
The first goal of a motorbike survey is to find new tracks. Obviously, these small farmers' roads are not marked on a map. And there is no way we go scouting around for new tracks with no organization. So, how do you get prepared for a motorcycle exploration? It's simple, we listen to the gossip and the “someone said”. Our network of local friends and guides across the country, reports regularly pieces of info such as: "It seems that a track connects this village to this one." Throughout the year, we compile these rumors. And when the time comes, we go on site to see if it’s true.
The second goal is to ensure that our existing tours are still top quality. Laos is a country in quick development thus trails are getting paved quite fast. We promise you off-road adventures off the beaten tracks, therefore we must constantly check that our tracks have not turned into beautiful paved roads but also look for alternatives if needed. So even if there is a big part of adventure and unknown, it still requires careful preparation. We set an itinerary and define an approximate duration, considering all possible difficulties.
Our last exploration had two distinct goals. First, check that our 7-day golden triangle tour was still amazing, and – spoile alert – it is :) Second aim, create a new tour in the area of the plain jars. This region is beautiful, and we found great trails that will delight all our bikers. On the basis of these two missions, a first route is established. On the menu, 8 to 10 days of riding, for about 2000 kilometers. The scene is set ... it’s going to be intense !
Who are the members of the riding team Off-Road Laos Adventures ?
These explorations are in small committee, 4 bikers with each a well-defined role.
Phasouk, Laotian director at Off-Road Laos Adventures, is the masterpiece of this adventure. Throughout the year, he is warned by phone when there is a potential track to explore. He is the one who defines the itinerary before departure. Then once on site, he calls back all his informants, to verify the veracity of their pieces of info.
Yay, our motorcycle guide. He will be leading you while you ride with us. Thus, he has to be extremely attentive to remember the way perfectly. There is no sign in the countryside of Laos ... He takes advantage of this exploration to gather phone numbers of the villages and garages nearby. He is also the mechanic guy during this two-wheeled adventure.
Charly, the biker vision. With his experience in off-road practice, he knows which sections are doable and by which type of bikers. We adapt all our tours according to the experience of our bikers, and it is thanks to him that the routes meet the expectations of beginners as well as experienced riders.
Jeremy, the link with customers aspect. He is the one who will be your interlocutor during the organization of your tour. It is therefore essential for him to be involved in the exploration and the making of tours. Thanks to his experience on the field, he will answer you precisely on what to expect during a tour with Off-road Laos Adventures.
Itinerary, issues, and highlights
We had planned 8 to 10 days exploring. It was ambitious. For organizational reasons, we do our scouting during the low tourist season and just after the rainy season. And this year, it has been particularly intense, we must expect that the slopes become muddy, slippery and risky ...
Here are few anecdotes and details about our motorcycle trip :
We started our adventure towards the Golden Triangle. The first day to join Hongsa goes smoothly. The tracks are not technical and we enjoy incredible views above the Laotian countryside, mountain landscapes covered with preserved forests, and dotted with rice fields of intense green cultivated on the slopes. In the evening, we celebrate Jeremy’s 30th birthday with local friends. Even deep in Laos, we can find a birthday cake! After a few beers, go to bed, because a long day awaits us the day after.
Things get complicated on the second day. In the middle of the afternoon, we are blocked by a landslide. A local guy tells us that there is a shortcut. We listen to him and try our luck. Bad move ... The landslides succeed one another and the track quickly becomes impracticable.
We end up turning back, to finally arrive at Houasay at the Thai border, around 8:00pm, completely exhausted.
Beginning of day 3, we arrive in a temple with a magnificent golden stupa. On the other side of the river is Burma.
This day is a real treat with rice paddies and single-tracks through the jungle. Pure pleasure ! After 3 days, we are all super comfortable with the CRFs. The exits of turns are negotiated with gas, and the feeling of having the back wheel drifting is exhilarating. We spend a good part of the day without seeing anyone, we are really in the middle of nowhere, incredible.
Day 4 is rainy. Result ? 89 km of trails in 6 hours. And yes, we too fall down ... especially on the technical forest tracks with extremely muddy and slippery sections. But we have been handsomely rewarded with breathtaking sceneries throughout this short but difficult day.
Day 5 is probably the most memorable because of its difficulty. The soggy clay tracks become more slippery than ice. During a climb, the first guy leading fell down, and as a consequence, the other three did as well.
After long minutes dealing with precarious balance, we face a landslide leaving only limited space to handle the motorcycles. The slightest mistake or slip and we go down the mountain. And then, the rain falls down, two motorcycles go on the side, and a chain breaks ... A memorable mechanical workshop begins !
The sixth day runs smoothly... The tracks are already known, so no surprise. We end the day facing a river in flood. As a result, we build with a local friend, a homemade trimaran by assembling three tiny wooden boats. The result is quite stable and the crossing by night will remain engraved in our memories.
One could qualify the seventh day as an endurance test. A track we had to verify was extremely technical, with ruts of amazing depth. We do not count the number of falls ... The day ends at 9:00pm, blocked by a river. We then call on villagers living on the other side of the stream. They propose us to pass the motorcycles in a local boat with precarious stability. After a first attempt during which a bike nearly overturns, we postpone the operation to the next day. We pay someone to watch the bikes during the night. The locals warmly welcome us with the little things that they have. And it consisted in a 3-kilos mole for the breakfast. And yes, we are in Laos After this intense day, we make the decision to slow down. Thus, we stall the remaining route over two days instead of one.
At 6 o'clock in the morning, we assemble two canoes, and here is an unsinkable catamaran. The bikes are safe and we are all happy to have been wise the day before.
Day 8 is the opportunity to visit the plain of jars. The surrounding landscapes are amazing, nothing to compare with the rest of the country.
Pine forests are frequent and landscapes are composed of vast plains. We spend the night within a local house, after a night with Lao-Lao to recover from our emotions of the day before. Day 9 is only on-road, we arrive at 12:00 in Luang Prabang. Exhausted, tired, but proud to have finished.
You'll understand that it was an adventure with a big A! The one that pushes us in our entrenchments with its moments of tiredness, but which is also at the origin of unforgettable encounters, of thinking when facing extraordinary landscapes or totally isolated places. At the end, we fulfilled, and even exceeded our expectations. Our 7-day golden triangle tour is still exceptional. And we even found new ways to improve it. It's now clear why it has become the favorite program of our bikers. Our new motorcycle tour, Destination plain jars 7 days, also promises to be unique, authentic, off-road, breathtaking ... To sum up, we took the best of what we went through to create an extraordinary itinerary. It will be very soon available on our site !! We wish you all a safe trip.
Discover our motorcycle tours : offroadlaosadventures.com
Pour nos amis français, suisses, belges.... nous sommes francophones :) , voici notre site internet dédié aux français : motolaos.fr
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