Prior to this trip, the only thing S and I had booked in was The Gibbon Experience, and this is the reason we’re in Houay Xai.
Animal ‘experiences’ is always something I’m conflicted about. While you want to support causes that try to help with animal conservation, there is sometimes a fine line between conservation and exploitation – particularly in this part of the world. The Gibbon Experience seemed like a good establishment because there isn’t any interaction with the animals. Rather, you are going into the jungle and if you are lucky enough to be able to observe them then that’s all you can do.
The organisation also re-trains former poachers and teaches them to become guides instead. Poachers are realising they can earn a living from being a guide so they can abandon their poaching ways. A cause worth supporting by any standard.
For the next three days, we’ll be sleeping in the world’s highest treehouse and ziplining above the jungle canopy. All while having the opportunity to see gibbons and other wildlife in the jungle. Sounds pretty cool eh?
After an instructional video, we drive to the jungle. It takes about an hour and a half and then we are fitted with our harnesses and begin trekking to our treehouse.
For the record, Treehouse #1 is easily the best treehouse! Just look at it!
The only way to access the treehouse is by ziplining to it. Trekking in the jungle is hard work, but ziplining above the canopy is so much fun. Our treehouse crew is full of varied, interesting and cool people and we’ll get to know each other over the next few days.
Our guides are Billy and Doumor and they make sure we’re safe on the zipline and tell us what animals we are hearing. That afternoon, we even manage to spot a family of langurs.
Dinner is cooked in a nearby village and then ziplined over to us. I can’t believe how well we are eating in the middle of the jungle!
As night sets in, the jungle noises grow louder and a downpour of rain descends upon us. We spend the night chatting to our new friends, playing cards and drinking terrible Lao whisky. Perfect.