Flying with the Gibbons

Trip Start Mar 04, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
Oudomophone II Guest House

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Bokèo,
Thursday, March 25, 2010

So, here is our next installment...

Well, in our last entry we had arrived in Laos.  The nest day we were up early and arrived at the Gibbon Experience office at 8:30 am.  Now, for those who do not know, the Gibbon Experience is a environmental program run by a French man in the Bokeo Nature Preserve in Laos.  The problem is that a lot of the hill tribe peoples live by slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting.  As there are no forest rangers in these nature preserves, the hill tribe people just burn down the forest and burn it to live.  So this French man came along and started this program where you hike into the forest reserve and stay in tree houses about 100-150ft in the air and spend your days looking for animals, hiking and of course zip-lining on the extensive network of zip lines (they have about 30 or so).  They are quite long, many are around 300m in length and they go over these HUGE valleys, about 150m down!  What an adrenaline rush.

Anyways, the French man, while protecting the forest by building up this program also has helped to protect the animals inside it.  These are bears, tigers, tons of birds and of course the black-crested gibbon, which is really the draw of the program.  He also enploys the hill tribe people, showing them that they can actually make more money from ecotourism.

So, intro finished, we all climjbed into the back of a truck.  Our mates were a Dutch man named Camille, Jon (a Brit), Mel and Stacey (our first Canadaians), Daniel (an American) and we met up with two German couples later. So, we drove around this crazy bumpy road.  It kind of reminded me of driving the Dempster Hwy in the Northern Yukon.  The roads are partially paved and quite pot-holed.  The other excitement is that no one really follows the traffic laws, including staying to your own side of the road.  It is not uncommon for a car to attempt passing another on a blind turn.  It sometimes makes your life flash before your eyes!

At the forest reserve we had a 40min huke up a hill, or so and there were given our harnesses.  From there on in, we hiked up hill for about 5-10 min at a time and then would zip across these zip-lines that I described above.  The other Canadaian couple (stacey and Mel) were in the same treehouse as Brent and I.  Our treehouse was the newest one in the fleet (at 5 months old), however it was the farthest one and there was a crazy steep hill (like the one to the lake at the cottage, fast path- but like 15x longer!) that we always had to go up and down.

So that is how we spent our next couple of days.  Hiking around, zip lining.  We saw lots of birds, parakets and hornbills and of course we saw gibbons!  Our guide Tja Lee (pronounced Charlie) was excellent and could find gibbons in about 2 minutes!  We had a wonderful time and I would highly recomend the trip to anyone else.  I took lots of vidoes so you will be able to see what we did.  Just an incredible experience!

Another wonderful part is the friends that we made.  While some went off to Thailand, Lena & Sebastian (from Germany), Jon and Camille travelled down to Luang Probang with us.  So it's been nice to travel with some others.  My next blog with be about the slow-boat to Luang Probang.
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