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“Know what to expect and it'll be amazing” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Gibbon Experience

The Gibbon Experience
Bokeo Nature Reserve, Huay Xai, Laos
084 21 20 21
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Ranked #1 of 3 Attractions in Huay Xai
Type: Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Zoos & Aquariums
Attraction details
New York
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Know what to expect and it'll be amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

After reading several negative reviews online, I was worried that The Gibbon Experience would disappoint. I think it was good to know the negative feedback in order to fully enjoy the experience. Keeping complaints in mind, I thought the 3 day 2 night waterfall experience was excellent and would definitely recommend it.

Some people have said that general organization is poor, the guides have little to no interest in interacting with participants, and the wildlife was difficult to deal with. I will address these issues and then give my personal feedback.

I did have some problems with initial email communication before reserving my spot, but a little persistence on my part led to prompt replies and answers to all my questions. Upon arriving, I found the women at the desk to be more professional than expected. The guides were young men and were obviously shy with us. They didn't provide much information about the jungle, wildlife, etc., but I think that was mostly due to limited English rather than an absence of knowledge. After some gentle prodding and encouragement, I found them to be kind, accommodating, interesting, and fun. They gave all kinds of information about Lao culture and their own backgrounds and answered questions regarding our surroundings as best as they could. I got the impression they've been put down by many people on past treks regarding their English ability, and I think it's important to remember that they are often self-taught with little experience in formal English learning. They are locals who are very familiar with the jungle and trekking, and I never felt unsafe, lost, or disappointed while they were guiding us around the jungle. That being said, I think it's best to keep in mind that English will be limited and it will take some effort to get them to open up and feel comfortable around you. As for the wildlife, I did not do the trek during the wet season and had no issues with bugs, etc. Remember that this is the jungle, not a zoo or an exhibit, and you should expect to encounter things like leeches. I had one leech bite and several leeches attached to my shoes and socks, but they don't hurt and I didn't find them difficult to remove. The guides were quick to point out if someone had a leech and were helpful in getting them off.

I can't say how difficult the trekking was because everyone is at a different level of physical fitness. I felt that some short bursts were exhausting and difficult but recovery times were frequent and restful. Again, I didn't go during the wet season, and expect that would be much more difficult. We all wore good shoes for hiking and high socks, but our guides wore flip-flops and had no issues getting around. Footwear is up to you. We saw no gibbons but I heard some singing on the first morning, which was beautiful. The zip lines were great- varying distances and views, no matter which experience you decide to do. The second day and third morning my group and I went out on our own a few times to go on extra zip lining circuits without guides and had no problems with safety or with finding our way around. Some complained that the food was repetitive or tasteless, but I found it simple, filling, and delicious. There was a lot of rice- welcome to Asia. Not a lot of meat was provided but there were plenty of vegetables. To each their own when it comes to food, but I have no complaints. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and even local wine were provided and prepared by the guides, as well as fresh fruit and snacks. The tree houses were very comfortable and allowed everyone in the group to get to know each other. The guides brought us an extra bed the second night as there were 9 of us and only 8 futons at first. The bathrooms are quite nice considering they're up several dozen meters above the forest floor, but expect cold showers (I found it refreshing after hours of trekking). You can drink the tap water and refill your water bottles with it. Towels, bedding, mosquito nets, cutlery, etc. were all provided. Make sure to bring a flashlight, a small bar of soap, one set of clean clothes for when you want to relax in the tree house and not feel filthy, sunscreen, and bug spray.

Don't expect this to be a fully guided tour of the jungle, and don't expect the guides and other workers to cater to your every want and desire. I agree with other recent reviewers in that you will get whatever you put into this trip in regards to interacting with guides, experiencing the jungle, and meeting the other trekkers. I had a fantastic time the whole way through and am very very happy I made the decision to fork over the money. There might be other tours similar to this, perhaps with more thorough and detailed information about the jungle, but I have no complaints about the Gibbon Experience and highly recommend it to anyone who's interested (and who has an adventurous and accepting personality).

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Ottawa, Canada
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“breathtaking surreal experience.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2012

the gibbon experience is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. i look back at my pictures and can barely believe i actually was there! it is shocking to me to read the reviews where people were dissatisfied or unhappy with the trip. do NOT do this trip if you are expecting anything remotely fancy or if you are scared of heights or if you do not have a laid-back sense of adventure. i would also recommend that you do not do this trip at the height of the rainy season, as it seems to be an extreme contrast to the trip that we had.

my friend and i did the two night waterfall trip at the end of october with a great group of wonderful people. by the end we felt like a little family. we had no rain except for on the ride back to town.

what you need to know:

the hiking is tough at times. and sometimes very muddy. there are leeches, but if you wear high socks you avoid most of them. the guides are locals who have learned english and communicate in basic ways. they are sometimes tricky to understand, and they do not have the extensive vocabulary to educate us about the jungle or offer us an explicit timeline of the day. every time we asked, "how long until...?" the answer was always two hours! go with the flow, enjoy the view, bring snacks and it won't matter. the complaints about the food are ridiculous - there isn't a ton but we were always satisfied. if you need more food, bring energy bars and almonds along with you. i always felt safe, but safety in laos is of a different standard. wear gloves to zipline as i had a minor mishap and hurt a finger. you will get lots of sleep - it gets dark early - one night we were asleep by 7:30 PM! the zips are gorgeous and exhilarating. we even got up early and hiked to a gorgeous view where we heard the gibbons. the best sunrise of my life. the showers/bathrooms in the treehouses are quite the experience with incredible jungle views!

what you need to bring:

not much. the bedding provided is fine. a few changes of clothes and socks. definitely a headlamp for reading at night or hiking in the early morning. definitely worth it to bring your good camera. your shoes will get wet and muddy, so i recommend something you don't have to take on or off (i wore my keens). snacks. bug spray. bring a BIG empty water bottle as you can refill it at the various tree houses. oh, and a small first-aid kit. we had two doctors on the trip with us, but not everyone would be so lucky!

this trip is slightly expensive and may give people the wrong impression - do not expect a 4 star tour. however, it was worth every penny to us and the absolute highlight of our travels in laos.

Visited October 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chaiyaphum, Thailand
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“A once in a lifetime experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

Once you can get passed the initial awkward experience of signing a 'waiver of indemnity' and limited conversation with the staff, you arrive in the pristine jungle, like nothing you have seen before.

Trekking through the jungle to your first stop: Zipline #1 of about 40, safe and secure...as I am sure that is a worry! One of the most exhilarating feelings, flying 100m above the jungle below. Any fear of heights fall away. At the end of the day you zipline into your treehouse to settle in for the night. You have never had such a beautiful view from a toilet in your life ;-)

So all in all, not the cheapest experience, but one you shall never forget!!! Guide was friendly an helpful.

Enjoy!

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Ulverstone, Australia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“The Peter Pan Gibbon; One of the best in south east Asia”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2012

I feel overwhelmingly compelled to leave a review after I had read some before I went and it appears they were written by stale old folk who do not know how to get the best out of any experience.

The Gibbon was an incredible experience in which you feel child like again in your sense of play and adventure. The meals were amazing and plentiful, even rivaled the restaurants in town. My fellow travelers were brilliant and so were our guides.

In fact it doesn't take much, you merely have to ask your guides some questions about themselves their language or the jungle and they'll be happy to appease you.

For the people that complained about trekking; Don't go on a trek.

For the people that complained about the meals; Don't come to south east asia if you can't stomach rice.

For the people that complained about the guides; I think they do their best and if you were to give them the time of day they would reciprocate .

This is all about what you put in. If you give it your best you'll have one of the most incredible experiences in south east asia!!

Visited October 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Blood, sweat, and tears (of joy)”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2012

This is not an adventure for the physically weak.

To be honest, the trekking part was a lot more physically demanding that I had anticipated, but it was well worth it. We were there during the rainy season, and therefore the trails were muddy and slippery. Embrace getting muddy and you'll have a blast! Long socks are helpful to prevent leaches from attaching to you, apparently insect repellent helps with this as well.

We stayed in Tree House 1, and it was FANTASTIC. Running drinking water, beautiful scenery, I was literally brought to tears from joy (not kidding). The zip lining was hilarious, and we really had an awesome time.

Such an awesome time, an experience I will never forget. We did the two night excursion and definitely thought that was worth it. It is such a hike to even get to the tree houses, that you want to make the whole trip worthwhile.

MUST BRING: lots of insect repellent, after bite, full medical kit*. We all had cuts and scrapes, so it was really handy having all the necessary supplies. Soap is not provided with the shower, so bring a bar and expect to use it. Flashlights. Pack lightly, the trek is seriously long and strenuous, and it doesnt seem like it would be fun if you had a heavy bag. Also note that during the day you zipline to the different treehouses. This means there are random people coming in and out of your treehouse all day - hide your important belongings, and don't bring anything too valuable.

Bring lots of extra flashlights because the power in the treehouse goes off early. Headlamps seemed to be ideal. Cards were helpful as well, and was a fun way to pass the time after an exhausting day trekking and ziplining through the jungle.

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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