Months before we had left to start our trip, we both knew that we had to go to the Gibbon Experience in Huay Xai, Laos. From what we had researched it was a three day, two night ziplining adventure in the jungle with the chance of spotting gibbons and nights spent sleeping in treehouses. We were totally up for it and as soon as we arrived in Laos we had booked it for the next day!
The first day started by meeting at the Gibbon Experience office for a safety briefing before all boarding the Songthaew buses to drive us the 1.5 hour journey. They have space to store luggage so all you need to bring is a small backpack big enough to take a few spare t-shirts and any essential toiletries. Our head torches came in super handy too! The first hour of the journey was pretty smooth, although we were constantly steering around massive pot holes. However the rest of the journey was very bumpy as the truck was trying to drive on a muddy track to the village. We ended up waiting an hour and a half at the village for the other half of our group, whose truck had broken down. Annoyingly the other truck also had all of our lunches, so we had to hangrily wait to be fed.
After lunch we started off on the trek up to the ziplines. Before this I hadn’t really thought about what kind of trekking would be involved, they advise on the website that you should be in reasonably good physical condition and to wear good hiking shoes. I assumed even though I don’t do any exercise whatsoever and sit on my bum all day that I would be alright. After a one hour trek up hundreds of really steep steps in the mud, I was the last person to arrive. I am ashamed to say that I struggled so much, no one found it easy, but I definitely came out the worst! I was actually dreading the next day at this point because of the walking! But after a well needed rest we got into our harnesses and started ziplining, the guides helped us attach ourselves the first few times and after that it was our own responsibility to check our ropes. I am really glad it was done this way as even though I was double checking them every time, you don’t feel reliant on the guides to do it for you. We were lucky enough on one of our first ziplines to spot some gibbons! We all glided past them as they were chilling in the trees, we felt so lucky as they don’t guarantee that you will see them.
Eventually we reached our treehouse, which was only reachable by zipline! We stayed in treehouse 1 with six other people, after visiting the other treehouses on the second day ours was definitely the nicest. It had many levels and wherever you looked was the jungle. The guides set up our beds for the night, which consisted of thick duvets over some pretty hard mattresses covered by a mosquito net, which was more like a massive sheet. Once our guides had prepared our dinner they had started to get ready to leave and told us that if there was a storm and the treehouse started to move we had to evacuate immediately by zipline into the jungle! We didn’t feel ready for that responsibility, I mean what would we do once we had ziplined out, wander round the bear and tiger infested jungle?! Luckily we didn’t find out, although I didn’t get much sleep due to the symphony of strange noises around us. At one point I was paranoid that I heard a snake drop down behind our bed and was going to slither in. Again didn’t happen.
We had an early rise the next day for breakfast, which consisted of sticky rice with an array of odd vegetable dishes. And luckily we could leave our bags at the treehouse that day, that made a whole lot of difference. Not that the trekking was easy, but it was broken up by so many amazing ziplines. The longest one was about 500m, it was fun to see who made it to the end without having to pull themselves the last few metres. I’m afraid Jack didn’t make it to the end of any of them, not enough skill! Me being me, I ended up with a massive hole in the back of my shorts! I sat down too soon at the start of a zipline and a stick ripped through them, I didn’t realise that my bum was on show until I made it to the other end! It was a long morning trekking and ziplining to all of the different treehouses, we didn’t make it back for lunch until 3pm! By that point we were all a bit hangry, hot and sweaty. You need to be a bit sweaty to enjoy the freezing cold shower! We could have ventured out and ziplined some more after lunch, but we were all a bit knackered. We sat around playing cards until we made a horrible discovery, we spotted two massive spiders in our treehouse. One being a huntsman, not venemous but horrible to look at. And then when we went to go to bed Jack found a disgustingly big centipede. We had to strip the bed and take it all apart, we weren’t going to sleep knowing that could crawl over us. We didn’t end up finding it, but despite all those horrible creepy crawlies I had such a good sleep!
Our last day consisted of a few more ziplines, even though we hadn’t found the heights scary we were a bit done with it by that point. I think all of the walking had taken it out of us and our legs were feeling a bit like jelly. Not only did I rip my shorts, but Jack had a loss too. The hat that we replaced after the monkey had stolen it, flew off of on one of our last ziplines never to be seen again. Amazingly, on our trek back down to the village, we spotted some more gibbons. This time jumping through the trees!
The Gibbon Experience has been the highlight of our trip so far, even with all of the hard work! I was pretty proud of myself for not moaning as much on the second day, and I now know that I can do something like that again. It was a bit of a surreal experience, and I think I appreciate it more now looking back. We were always surrounded by beautiful scenery and wildlife. Our two guides that were with us throughout those few days made it what it was, always making jokes and helping us with the ziplines. If you ever get the chance please go, even though it was quite expensive I would do it all over again!