THE COOLEST THING EVER!!!
Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
182Trip End Jan 14, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Tree House Three
We just came out of Laos having completed The Gibbon Experience and it is BY FAR one of the top 5 best things we've both ever done. A little bit of background...When we were back in Bangkok while Laura was shopping, I got a bite to eat and spent my time eves dropping on a couple Americans who were forming an eco-tour company. After dinner, I interrupted them and asked for suggestions for Laos. They both looked up and said "Do the Gibbon Experience." Neither of them had ever done it before but their description was intriguing enough to start the booking process.
We checked out their website and "The Gibbon Experience" www.gibbonx.org takes place in the Bokeo Reserve in Northern Laos
Our experience was as follows: We were picked up in the village of Baan Donchai Sunday morning in an older model, faded, white Toyota Land Cruiser. We piled in with the other nine guests, our jungle guides on the rooftop rack, and crossed through the river and rode up a hill deep into the jungle. After an hour long 4-wheel drive trip (even the drive was fun!), we arrived in a small village where we were all handed climbing harnesses and led further into the jungle for an hour trek to the "school." We were informed along the way that a camera crew was present to film a documentary on the project so periodically we'd hike by a camera filming the group (don't look at the camera!)
Tree House One is not your average tree house! Sitting 150 feet up in the tree's canopy and carefully constructed to not damage the tree, the tree house had three levels, a small kitchen, toilet (long drop toilet...think about that for a moment) and sleeping quarters for six. One by one, the group zipped across the valley and we gathered for some food and questions by the film crew. After some brief discussion, volunteers were requested for the hike to Tree House Three (Tree House Two was a two-person and reserved by an Australian couple celebrating their anniversary). We had been told by other travelers that number three was the most remote and offered the best chance for gibbon sightings, and Tree House Three only sleeps four so we jumped at the chance to go there
We relaxed in our tree house and enjoyed the view for the remaining two hours of the day. At approximately five-thirty, we felt a jolt and heard the familiar whine of an incoming zip line pulley. We'd heard that dinner would be delivered, but being in the jungle, we expected minimalist rations. Things could get better!! From the hatch in our tree house emerged a guide with a five course Laotian dinner! We enjoyed our meal being serenaded by the jungle birds as the sun set over the misty hills. Felix, our tree house mate, was a German percussionist who seemed "at one" with nature. Often quiet and speaking with only interesting topics, he made the perfect house mate.
The following morning at about six o'clock, we awoke sharply to an unfamiliar sound
After lunch we went down to the school to visit the monkey and the bear. The bear, a black Asiatic cub, was rescued from poachers after they'd killed its' mother. The staff at Gibbon Experience will raise the cub until it's about a year old at which point they said it would leave on its' own. The bear behaves exactly how you'd expect a bear cub to behave. Motivated by food, it took interest in you only as long as it took to confirm you weren't holding any
We spent the afternoon gliding around and repeated our morning hike in hopes of catching the gibbons out for the evening. Still no sightings though.
We awoke the second morning to the gibbon song and had resigned ourselves to just relaxing when our guide arrived. He had other plans, taking us back into the far valley and trail blazing a new trail straight through the jungle. We stopped just outside a small valley from which the gibbon songs emerged
Even though we didn't actually see any gibbons, the overall experience is beyond description. This is truly an amazing place and the fact that the efforts go to such a noble cause makes you feel even better about having such an amazing time. In two days we probably hiked and zip lined through twenty miles of jungle. This is definitely an experience we will never forget!