The mountainous center of Luang Namtha Province has been designated as the Nam Ha National Protected Area (NPA) in 1993. It was first established by a Prime Minister's Decree and stretches from the Chinese border through the middle of the province, spanning five districts and covering over 222,400 hectares. The Nam Ha NPA's landscape is very diverse, characterized by and ever changing mosaic of swidden fields and regenerating forests.
The very old forest remains in a few remote areas due to inaccessibility and local custom. Within the NPA boundaries there are two peaks that exceed 2,000 meters, as well as an abundance of rivers and streams. The NPA's main purpose is to protect biodiversity and habitat for wildlife found in northern Laos.
Species such as Tiger, Leopard and the enormous Gaur (a type of wild cow) still roam the forest throughout the reserve, although large mammals are very hard to see because of low population densities and fear of people. Residents that are easier to encounter are the some 300 species of birds, which include Silver Pheasants, jewel-like Blue and Eared pittas as well as a diversity of bulbuls, and at least 38 species of mammals. On the highest peaks there are species more closely associated with the Himalayas and are found in only a few other parts of Laos.
The Nam Ha National Biodiversity Conservation Area is one of the country's largest protected areas and provides refuge for a wide range of wildlife therefore the treeking to the Nam Ha NBCA support natural resource conservation and traditional livelihoods.
The other fantastic way to travel through the Nam Ha NBCA is by raft or long-tail boat down the Nam Ha River, where it is common to see many bird and reptile species in the surrounding forest. A longer journey on the larger Namtha, a traditional trading route and tributary of the Mekong , links Luang Namtha to both Houei Xai and Luang Prabang. Boat trips up and down the entire Namtha require an overnight stay in the traditional boatmen's village of Ban Khone Kham (Nale District).