One of the main stops at Huay Xai is ‘The Gibbon Experience’ which is an eco-based jungle tour experience in Laos. The project helps protect gibbons in the national park and has reduced the number of hunters out for their blood.
We set off at about 9.30am, with 9 of us in a make shift bus heading to the jungle. When we arrived we met Ken and Man our guides for the next 2 days. Their English was good and you could tell they had picked up the skill of sarcasm from tourists, which has been pretty rare for locals in SE Asia, so they kept us all in good spirits. We strapped up and put on our Laura Croft type harnesses and walked to the first point which turned out to be a less than 5 minute walk to a little river with a cable going from one side to the next. Ziiiiiiip, boom first one down, such good fun, but on the grand scheme of things was tiny -20ft long.
We then had to hike for about 1-1.5hrs up hill with a few breaks in between to cool down and catch you breath, but to most of our group’s pleasure, we had made it to the first ‘proper’ zip line. We chose the Express experience, less time (2 days 1 night), less hiking, less Gibbons and less money but more zip lines. Even still the hiking was pretty tough and you can feel all the pints of cheap Laos beer seeping out of your pores. At one point we even passed the national Laos army who get paid to transport cables around the jungle.
The first zip line was very different from the initial zip line over the river as you couldn’t see the landing spot. Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiip! Wow with the first ‘proper’ zip line done any apprehension or nervousness in the group was replaced by excitement and highs. We climbed further up hill through the jungle reaching up to 800ft high and the rest of the day was a mixture of short hikes and zip lining. The longest one on day one was about 540ft.
We made it to the treehouse where all of us were going to sleep for the night. The only way to get out of the treehouse is, you guessed it a … zip line.
We had a rest and drank some local home made spirit (LaoLao) with the guides and then went back out for some more zip lining and to see Laos biggest tree.
When the day was over the guides and the catering crew zip lined our food to us. We ate a good mixture of rice, veggies and some chicken.
Over dinner we all chatted. One thing you will notice when travelling is that you’ll know someone’s travel itinerary before you even know their name. We all got along well, and as we had a early start in the morning we all got a relatively early night. The soundtrack of the night was bugs, birds and general jungle noise background. In the early hours of the morning it was raining but had cleared up by 8am and left a pretty nice morning view.
We woke up with the sound of the zip lines- it was our guides supplying breakfast and coffee. After breakfast it was more of the same, hiking and zip lining to a pick up point the other side of the jungle.
By the time we made it to the pick up point we were all pretty much exhausted. I think, even though we didn’t see any gibbons we were all glad we chose the express. I think another day of hiking would have killed us and also even the zip lining may have lost its appeal … Nah who am I kidding … Zip lining through the jungle was one of the most fun things we have done and it was worth the money. We would definitely reccomend it.
We spoke to another group when we got back who did see some Gibbons but that tour is about 100$ more expensive so really depends on how much you want to see a Gibbon.
Next stop Chiang Mai…
Some more photos