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“The Gibbon Experience or Ziplining Experience?”

The Gibbon Experience
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Huay Xai
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed March 13, 2014

Did the Waterfall Trek from Feb.22-24th and absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anyone. I became a real zip lining junkie, even though I had never done it before! There were 7 in our group, 4 of us including me, had booked 2 days before. As a group we all got on really well and the treehouses were awesome....the best bathrooms ever and nothing like having a shower overlooking the canopy of the jungle. The food was also very good, rice and veggies but all very delicious. My main complaint as is the case with most of the reviews were the guides. Velao and Gua did not speak good English (even though in the office they said that there were always 2 guides and one spoke very good English), this meant that there was no forthcoming info. on the jungle, it's animals, it's Eco system, the local people etc. At the centre, they showed us a Video on safety and the dos and donts of zip lining which was useful, and the guides backed this up on the first few zip lines until we had all got the hang of it. At the centre, the video, did a very brief explanation on the same video on the project and the gibbons, but the info. Was in the form of writing on the photos, which was up for all of 4 seconds, so for non English speakers, it was very difficult to read in time! There was a pie chart which gave information on where our money goes, but again, it was up for 4 seconds so you couldn't really absorb all the information. When you pay this amount of money, I personally wanted to come out of the experience more knowledgeable than when I started and unfortunately this was not the case.
There is more chance of hearing and seeing gibbons if you do the Classic Trek as the gibbons hang around treehouse 1,3 and 7. With the waterfall trek, you stay at tree houses 5 and 6. We didn't hear or see gibbons, and in fact saw no wildlife at all, which isn't surprising seeing as 16 people are using the same tracks everyday so the wildlife avoids these areas. So don't go on this if you are expecting to see wild life! On the waterfall trek, there is more chance of hearing or seeing the gibbons if you stay at treehouse 6 first, then do the second night at 5, as on the third day you get up at 5 am and trek to treehouse 3 and stand a chance of hearing the gibbons. If you stay at treehouse 5 the first night, then do the second night at 6, then you will not hear or see gibbons which was our case. However, the 3 days of trekking (more like 4/5 hours a day) was lovely and I was glad we stayed the extra night in the tree houses. Again tho, it kind of doesn't make sense to go deeper in the jungle, pay more money, and stand less of a chance of hearing or seeing gibbons! Fabulous experience tho, and the fact the guides left us in the afternoons to do all the loops around the treehouse ourselves, was awesome!

1  Thank Alex B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 13, 2014

Amazing Experience. Great and adventurous trip. Amazing guides. Amazing people. Healthy food. A bit cold sometimes but fun. Did the waterfall route. Hoping to go back and do the classic. Saw some monkeys for about 45. Had a great time with the volunteers Felipe & Damon. Great photography.

Thank Gerald R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2014

First and foremost, the Gibbon experience is an absolutely amazing experience, don't miss it if you're passing through North Laos!

We went in the dry season (early March) for the 3-day waterfall experience. Early March was very pleasant: not too hot during daytime nor very cold at night, there were no leeches at all and the slightly hazy skies did not spoil the amazing jungle views. The jungle remained very green (in contrast to some other parts of Laos that became a bit dusty and yellow). Do go for the 3-day experience, mainly for the opportunity to stay in another treehouse and to zipline around yourself. The waterfall itself should be considered a small sidetrip, and a pleasant spot for some washing and swimming in nature.

The use of the ziplines as a "mode of transport" is fascinating and loads of fun. It's highly addictive and after "zipping" a few lines you become more and more confident and start enjoying the endless views of the jungled mountains and rivers. In the morning of day three, we went ziplining ourselves from our treehouse during the misty sunrise, which was simply magical.

Our group ranged from 23 to 60 years old and various levels of fitness, and although the trekking was sometimes a bit of a challenge for some, no-one really struggled. I would say anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it, just remember that to zipline down, you'll need to climb up... Our guides kept a fast pace, but just take your time and pick your own so you can recover at each zipline.

The treehouses are straight from a Tolkien novel, built in huge trees. Especially the bathrooms are stunners, with open views into the forest. It's thrilling to see your shower-water fall dozens of meters down to the forest floor through the spacings in the floorboards...

In the "big treehouse" there were many bees around, though they are not aggressive at all. They're attracted to water, so the shower was full of them. One of us got stung by stepping on one in the shower. If you're afraid of the bees, try the 2nd floor (which seemed "bee-less") or hide under the mosquito net. Hide your food and scraps well, as in the night the forest rats may make an appearance. We heard them a lot in the big tree house, but did not hear any in the "waterfall tree house", nor did we encounter many bees there. We heard the Gibbons in the morning but did not see any.

The main drawback during our trip were our guides - seemingly indifferent and uninterested, doing the bare minimum of tasks. Some examples: they left the first treehouse without saying or explaining anything, without mentioning who (and how/where) to contact in case of an emergency. Despite repeated requests for more drinking water, we ran out of water on day two and only after we met the (very friendly and helpful!) guide of the other group (doing the reverse program) we learnt we could safely drink the tap-water (!). A request to have some tea after arrival on day two (since we were understandably thirsty, not having enough water) was met with a sigh and a -how shall I phrase this- "considerable lack of enthusiasm".

We decided to hand over our group's evaluation forms personally upon return in Huayxay and requested to see the management. We were received within five minutes at their office and met with three of the office staff. They were genuinely interested in our experiences and our concerns, asked many questions, made many notes, identified the guides and thanked us for the report. We hope that that future participants will benefit from our feedback as we feel the Gibbon experience was one of our most memorable travel experiences ever!

1  Thank Polds83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2014

Truly one of a kind, amazing experience!
Middle of nowhere, jungle trekking, zip lining over rivers, sleeping in treehouses.
I had high expectations, it just sounded so cool. My expectations were met, and then some.
Sure there is probably plenty that wont be to everyones taste.
The hiking. Way harder than we thought. We do a bit of walking, but my lord there was a lot of it, and all uphill.
We took the Waterfall experience, which involves more walking than the other tours.
On the plus side, you are trekking through Laos jungle, and not walking in whatever concrete jungle many of us live in.
Im not awesome with heights personally, and went ahead and did this to push my boundaries.
After my first couple of zip lines, i was cured of that, although the adrenalin was still there every time I strapped on and zoomed off across a valley. 200 feet in the air mind you. :)
Zip lining into your treehouse is an experience like no other. And then watching your guide zoom in later on with a kettle full of hot water, to make us tea and coffee, just added to the surreal.
You'll not find a better bathroom view anyhwere.
The food. Theres plenty of it, and whilst its mostly veggies and rice Laos style, given the logistics, its a miracle we were fed that well.
The houses themselves are magnificent. 60 metres above the forest floor, yes, of course its rustic and basic, but what does one expect?
Having a good crew helps, which we did. Bring cards and/or a book, as once darkness hits, theres little else to do. Treehouse 6 was great for the 2nd night as its in the middle of 4 ziplines, and we were left to our own devices, so we spent a coupla hours just ziplining back and forth across the river. So much fun!!
Our guide MJ is the man, very helpful, will tell you stories, and easy to communicate with.
Even if his musical tastes left a bit to be desired. ;)
We would love to do this every year if we had the chance!!!

3  Thank Richard W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2014 via mobile

Last week we booked the 2 day Gibbon experience by phone. I asked them by email and later in the day by phone for a email confirmation - which we didn't get. The day after we got an email that they canceled the trip because they needed to rebuild (unclear what they needed to rebuild). They could not offer one of the other Gibbon experiences that would leave on the same day or could offer another reasonable alternative.

We don't know what happened with the Gibbon organization for this trek. Maybe the person from Gibbon on the phone that made our reservation was not informed about the cancellation (which would not be good)? Maybe something broke down and would have needed an immediate fix (unsafe - it would be really bad if that is the case). Anyway not sure what happened but their communication was very poor. Keep that in mind if you consider this trip!

7  Thank Buma2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jef r, Manager at The Gibbon Experience, responded to this reviewResponded February 14, 2014

Bad communication indeed !

Hi folks, just discovered this comment on returning from travel. Apparently, our office team freaked out when the water system went down at Gibbon Express: with no water for guests and staff, everything would have been difficult. Within 24 hours some of you might have received controversial e-mails stating that the tree house needed maintenance... then that it was repaired.
In the tree house, no one noticed the problem as reserves were sufficient. Still, this last minute customer just booked in and was disappointed by our poor communication. Sorry about that !

Anyway, I was wondering wether a comment from someone who never joined is worth mixing with our real customer experiences... Hmmm ?

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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