Saturday, February 11, 2006

Kouangsi Falls, Laos

Kouangsi falls, also known as Tat Kuang Si, approximately 32km West of Luang Prabang, are a series of very picturesque, tiered waterfalls over limestone formations.

Both Lao and foreign tourists visit the falls, mostly the lower pools. There are paths on both the right and left sides of the falls that lead to the top.

If you follow the left path, you can make your way to a large upper pool, though the way there isn't all that obvious. On my second visit I took some photos to provide more detailed instructions and better show the way.
Leaving the "main area," where the access road ends,
there are paths both to the right and left. The path to the right goes to the top of the falls along a dirt path and it has an interesting side path, partly on a non-industrial strength wooden walkway that overlooks the falls.

The path to the left, shown here looking down, veers away from the falls and goes through the adjoining forest.


After a 5+ minute walk and scramble up the dirt path, you come to a long wooden set of stair in amazingly good shape, at least, at the time of my visit.














Go up the stairs, past the middle platform, and continue up about 1/2 way from the middle platform. You'll see a flattened "path" on what appears to be a stream that leads to the right and somewhat up. Here's what it looks like looking down the stairs.

There's another path, just below, along a similar offshoot stream. The path just above is much easier to follow.


And here's what it looks like leaving the stairs onto the path. It's obviously slippery. River rafting sandals with good traction are helpful.







Follow the path, such as it is, along the stream.









Continue, heading generally up.
















Continue along. The walk along the stream is fairly brief, perhaps 5 minutes.











The path ends at the falls and the upper pools, which are also tiered.












The upper pools are fine for paddling around. There's no real place to change clothes like the facilities down below, though, but there are a few places to put things to be kept dry, away from the water and spray. It can be helpful to have some plastic bags.






Going back down looks worse than coming up.


























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