Irrawaddy dolphins

Bernard DUPONT

Irrawaddy dolphins

16km north of Kratie is the village of Kapmi, next to which the swirling waters of the Mekong are some of the best conditions in the world to see the highly endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. They have a distinctive very short beak, their head is round with a forehead extending beyond their facial features, and are one of the few dolphin species that can survive in both freshwater and salt water. They also have to come up for air every couple of minutes, meaning if they are around (highly likely), then you should at least see them breach the water for air. They are also inquisitive, so if you're lucky you will get to see them pop the heads above the surface to take a look around. There are believed to be around 70 dolphins in this stretch of the Mekong. Around sunrise and sunset are said to be the best times to see them, although you can see them any time of day. Hopefully, the revenue from tourism will encourage the locals to help protect these last few dolphins. It's around $10 for a tuk-tuk from Kratie (35 min), ask around in cafes if you would like to share with other travellers. You can hire a boat in Kampi for around $9 per person for 90 mins for one or two people, $7 each if more.

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