One important thing at the beginning: This trip was awesome! Coasting plenty of, up to 700m long, zip-lines in a height up to 200m above ground through the jungle is a frightening and incredible feeling. Full adrenaline and fun at its best for every adventurist.
Hence, if you want to do something completely crazy then this is the right thing for you. If you're not scared and fully aware of the risks you want to take: DO IT!!! For us this was the best and also most adventurous southeast Asia trip so far.
But you should consider the following issues before you spend a lot of money and sign the we-really-don't-care-about-taking-responsibility contract:
- Totally overpriced!!! I just gave an 'average' rating because you get poor service for such a high price. Honestly, I didn't expect western-style service at all for this area. If the trip had been 50% cheaper, I wouldn't have complained at all. But the overall average service quality doesn't justify the 190$ for a 2 day/1 night trip.
- The guides speak only basic English!
- YOU are responsible for YOUR own safety. Because of the guide's poor English knowledge you can't expect professional safety instructions from them. In our opinion they should check every time when you hook your carabiner into the zip-line if everything is OK. At some situations they didn't really care. One guide was saying OK while not looking at all what you're doing. He mentioned that he's very tired. No wonder, he's 19 years old, has a two month old baby at home and works often 7 days a week and this for a bad salary. In my opinion it is the company's respectively the guide's responsibility to be in good shape and to follow the neccesary precautions. On the second day we were zip-lining without the guide's supervision. It was lot of fun, we hadn't any problems nor fears, but for safety's sake those conditions are a definite NO GO. As I said, you're responsible for your own safety. The harnesses were in a good condition which let me feel safe. In addition to the cable roll the harness was equipped with a second cord which should be always hooked into the zip-line as an emergency backup. One thing: The brakes didn't work on all harnesses efficiently because on some of them the rubber was already worn out (maybe this led to the first accident, see below). In overall, besides the brakes issue, I was satisfied with the gear's condition.
- In case of emergency: Help yourself and don't expect too much support from the guides! Thanks to other helpful tripadvisor reviews we learned that the guides don't carry a 1st aid kit. Therefore we packed a kit into our small backpack, and we needed it already after 2 hours. Someone of our group couldn't brake just in time and crashed almost with full speed into a tree at the end of the second zip-line. There was no test beforehand to check if everybody knows how to use the gear (braking, hooking, carabiners etc.). No surprise that this accident happened. I was standing next to the poor lad and thought he fractured both of his legs. Fortunately he was very muscular and also much into sports so that he was able to react quickly and correctly to reduce any major damage to his legs with his strong muscles. Unfortunately he hit a metal bolt at the zipline, which was not enveloped with rubber or any other soft material. He had a deep cut on his ring finger down to the bone and was bleeding. Our guide asked us if someone of us had a 1st aid kit. Absolute NO GO. They should be prepared for such accidents. Otherwise the company should inform the customers beforehand that everybody should carry its own aid kit.
- The advertisement of the Gibbon Experience (website, brochures) gives a misleading picture: The chance to spot any Gibbons is lower because even the guides are singing or listening to music from their mobile phone's loudspeakers. This definitely scares every animal away.
- You will not learn a lot about the jungle or wildlife. Due to their basic English knowledge they don't provide you with a satisfying amount of information. If you ask them something, they usually give basic answers or don't understand the question at all. I had to watch an Youtube movie afterwards to learn how a Gibbon actually sounds.
- Guide's don't wear a simple watch. They ask you several times for the time. Their verbal time schedules are wide off the mark from the unwritten LPDR (Lao, please don't rush) rule. For example: They promised us to come back at 5am for some guided wildlife watching. They arrived at 7am, two hours late.
But besides all the criticism there are also many good points:
- The treehouse was amazing. Big in its size, very comfy matraces (I don't know hot they carried them). Very good and effective mosquito nets (actually permeable to air sheets). Clean bathroom (the best view ever provided by doing nr.1 or 2), shower (MUST DO after the trek, sooooo refreshing), small kitchen with sink (with drinkable water), nice ambiente, solid structure.
- Delicious food (pork and a big variety of vegetables), tasty sandwiches during the trek.
- Lots of fun zip-lining through the jungle with breathtaking views and an overdose af adrenaline.
- Good transportation to the trek and back. The 4WD had a mechanical problem during our way back home. It was replaced as soon as possible with a new truck.
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