Living like a Gibbon: The Gibbon experience in Huai Xai
The main and only reason why people stop by Huai Xai is to go on the Gibbon Experience. Gibbon experience is an eco-friendly adventure in the wilderness of Bokeo Nature Reserve. The experience basically consists of flying through a series of ziplines from canopy to canopy. The experience includes an overnight stay in an AWESOME treehouse, way up high in a tree. Depending on a which package you pick, you stay in the treehouse for 1 or 2 nights. Before I go on, I do have to tell you that this unique experience doesn’t come cheap. For 1 night it’s 130 euro (180 USD), for 2 nights it’s 220 euro (290 USD). All meals and transport included from and to the project grounds. That said, I only paid for 1 night, I figured 1 day should be enough to enjoy the ziplining and to get the “feel” of it and … since 1 night is cheaper.Onwards to the adventure itself then, the day started early in the morning with a 2 hour hike with some ziplines included to get to our treehouse. It’s been a while since I’ve gone hiking but seems like I haven’t lost my touch just yet, then again, I do have to mention that the hot tropical like temperature and weather made it a bit more difficult and since we were with a group, the guides decided it was wise to stop every 30 minutes while I would rather just keep hiking through the “tiredness”. The first zipline was pretty crazy, not knowing what to expect, we all just zipped along the line to the other side of the forest in matters of seconds. The view was simply amazing and the experience itself: mindblowing. I was stupid to expect some simple zipline across 2 trees, but this was different. It’s hard to describe it really, so just watch the videos I took while on the zipline itself.
The treehouse itself was quite genius I must say. I have no idea how they managed to build a treehouse this high up the tree and with 3 stories, a fully working sink with drinkable water, toilet and shower. We strategically located next to another tall tree which was FILLED with huge beehives. We were about 200m away from them and you could still hear the buzzing from where we were staying at.We spent the night just chatting with one and another, playing some card games and just enjoying the view from our nice little treehouse. At night they warned us about a storm coming though, they told us to keep our gear near our beds in case the wind would blow too hard and they had to come get us in the middle of the night. They didn’t come get us, but in the middle of the night, the mosquito net kept blowing up and me and Abby had to struggle a bit to keep it tucked under our mattrass. On top of it, the stupid house cat thought we were playing around so it started scratching us. Pitch black with just our little flash lights we were trying to calm ourselves down, trying to hold the net down and trying to avoid that damned cat from scratching us. It all sounds more dramatic than it perhaps was since we did manage to survive to talk about it, but in the heat of the moment, it was pretty scary…. Anyway, in the morning, it seemed like nothing has happened and the sun was shining ever so brightly. We did a small hike with some extra ziplining after breakfast and returned to the treehouse to pack our stuff ready to head back to Huai Xai. By the time we got back and have used the toilet and such, some of the bees have already found their way to our nice smelling urine. So I’m glad to say that we weren’t staying another night in the treehouse.
Eventhough the price was quite a lot, I still feel it was worth the money. That and who knows when I’ll every get back to the north of Laos to experience this. At least it was an adventurous cost. If you remember, back when I was in Venezuela, I skipped the Angel Falls trip because it was too costly. I’m glad I did this one though.After we came back I had to say goodbye to Abby, one of my longest travel partners , which is hard to come by sometimes. Don’t worry after I said goodbye to her, I tagged along with Victoria and Phil, a power couple from Canada (aye) for a couple of days to visit some of the smaller villages along the river in the north of Laos (Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi).