We set out early from Huay Xai to start our trek into the Nam Kan National Park.
The Gibbon Experience is a conservation project where visitors get a chance to navigate a series of zip-lines and stay overnight in the highest treehouse built in the world. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to hear and even see the gibbons who inhabit the surroundings. Our express trip (two days and one night) was in a section of the forest where sightings were not as common.
It was only a little into the hour trek up the mountainside to the first zip-line and we were already feeling the burn. It definitely wasn’t an easy hike. But a few scrapes and bruises (and a lot of gasping for air) later, we reached a rest stop to enjoy some jungle sandwiches and good old Beer Laos. Because who needs hydration in the middle of a trek anyway?
The Biggest Tree in All the Land
The series of zip-lines (totaling seven for the first day) leading to our home for the night were both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s like riding a rollercoaster through treelined mountaintops and canopies of bamboo. Before reaching our treehouse, we had a chance pose super naturally in front of the biggest tree in Laos.
Our awesome guides, Sawadee and Sitong, did an incredible job of not only encouraging us along the way, but more importaintly maintaining proper safety standards. They took the time to point out interesting plants and had some hilarious jokes along the way. The Gibbon Experience has provided hundreds of jobs within the community to many locals like our guides in the surrounding area.
Home Away from Home
Our self-sustaining treehouse featured solar powered lights, bathroom complete with toilet and shower, and even drinkable water. Being the four Americans that we are, we raced to the top of the treehouse to scope out the best spot to bed down and claimed the comfortable and more private third level deck as our own.
Some Rest for the Weary
Pictures really don’t do this sunset justice. Everyone clamored to the edge of the westward facing balcony to snap photos, take hyperlapses and capture video of an uncapturable, beautiful moment. Dinner was later served after which we retreated beneath our mosquito nets to play a round of gin rummy while finishing up some Thai whiskey.
The Best Part of Waking Up
Three of us opted out of the following early morning zip-lining session due to sheer laziness and general lack of motivation. It wasn’t until after our hearty jungle breakfast of scrambled eggs, rice, greens and rolls were we ready to say goodbye to our temporary nest and zip-line back to civilization.
10/10 Would Do Again
This was definitely an experience of a lifetime and I’m happy to share it with halfway decent people. Just kidding! Zip-lining was a blast and spending a night in a treehouse was like being a kid at a friend’s sleepover all over again. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend adding this adventure to your itinerary.