There are plenty of companies worldwide that offer a similar adventure, but the general consensus is that The Gibbon Experience does it best. The office is located in Huayxai on the Laos-Thai border; a town that has very little to offer. Just outside of town there is a vast expanse of lush green jungle where the company has designed a course of zip lines.
The Gibbon Experience offers three options; 3 day waterfall (only available during the dry season), 3 day classic and 2 day express. I opted for the express which cost £160 per person. The longer your trip the higher your chances are of seeing some gibbons. However, I didn’t meet anyone who was lucky enough, and I would presume that the sound of travellers whizzing through the trees and shrieking is enough to put them into hiding. Don’t let the lack of wildlife sightings deter you though as the whole experience was amazing.
The express begins at 9.30am with an hour drive out to the start of the trail. From here it’s a quick zip line across the river, and an hour and a half hike up to the start of the lines. During the trek you will stop a couple of times, including once for lunch. Then the fun begins with a succession of zip lines over the rich jungle. The longest line is nearly 600m, and it’s possible to reach 60km/h. Many of the lines require a bit of walking to get from one to the other, but it’s not too strenuous.
At around 4pm you will reach the treehouse – the tallest of which are 40m high. It’s open air and offers spectacular views, and sunset is particularly breathtaking. The bathroom is not for the faint hearted as the slatted floor exhibits a vertigo-inducing glimpse into the forest below. A delicious dinner is provided, and mattresses are set up to sleep on with thick mosquito nets. Do bring lots of mosquito repellent and clothes that cover you as much as possible because there’s an abundance of them. Also, the accommodation was very basic; even though I enjoyed the experience, I was grateful of a hot shower and some AC afterwards.
After a night of listening to the sounds of the jungle, everyone is up at sunrise to do five zip lines and visit the biggest tree in Laos before breakfast. Day two follows a similar schedule, and after lunch a van will bring everybody back to town for about 3pm (weather depending).
Huayxai has two bus stations about 5km outside of town, and from here you can take a 24 hour bus to Vientiane or 12 hours to Luang Prabang. Alternatively, tour operators in town can arrange tickets to most places in Laos and Thailand.
Things to bring:
- Waterproof jacket
- Clothes that cover you for the evening
- Mosquito repellent
- Toilet roll
- 1l water
- Long socks
- Good shoes for walking