Gibbon Experience- hear its good but is it really worth 160 euros?
3rd June, 2009
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Hi I'm looking at doing the gibbon experience on the 20th or 21st of June! I was originally looking at doing the classic experience but have been quoted 160 euros (170 if bought in huay xai close to the time) for the classic or the waterfall! To me, this seems like an awful lot of money, especially given I'm british, and our exchange rate with the euro has in recent years gone from £1: 1.6 euros to £1:1 euro! I was wondering if it would be sensible to give the gibbon experience a miss and save time and disappointment for this price (we only have a limited time in SE asia anyway), or whether it was still worth doing? I appreciate that zip wires and trees houses are fun, but i gather the likelihood of seeing a gibbon is quite small, and though I support the guides and conservation work this is a lot of money to give them!
Thanks in advance for any help! Alex
#1 Posted: 3/6/2009 - 21:56
19th October, 2008
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Two of my good friends did the Gibbon experience and loved it. This was despite the fact that they were really looking forward to seeing a Gibbon (and did it to see a gibbon) but didn't end up seeing one. The zip wires and tree houses were a highlight (the videos looked damn cool) but they also took a lot out of it through the overnight stay and experience... I was pre occupied with the zip lines so tuned out about what else they were raving about.
Hope this helps. From your post, if I were you i'd probably save the time and money and do something else. I too would like to support the guides and their conservation but agree it is quite a bit of money to spend.
#2 Posted: 4/6/2009 - 20:10
If money is the most important attribute on your holiday (ie. it's in short supply and expensive options might otherwise make you saddened), then don't.
If rain, slippery muddy tracks, leeches, etc., aren't your thing, then don't.
As for Gibbon, if you are going to go merely for the Gibbon, then don't go.
But, if you are into having one of the best memorable journey's of your life, then yes, do it.
I wrote to a post on the Gibbon Experience [GE] in the wet season:
Please take note of the comments about access. Ordinarily, the 4WD takes you to a H!Mong village, from whence you trek for about an hour. If there has been huge amounts of rain, and the 4WD can't cross the river, you'll be trekking for about 4 hours.
Even if you trek for 4 hours, you'll still enjoy the experience (unless you hate trekking for a long time).
- - - - -
As for cost, there are times when experiences are so absolutely cheap, but the enjoyment so great that one wonders why there is a tourism industry (ie. a surf beach on a perfect day).
There are other times, when the pleasure is so worthwhile but the cost is inordinately high. At these times, one might look for alternatives, only to find none.
For me, Halong Bay on a quality tour into the remote areas and the GE are two examples where I found I had to pay dearly for the experiences. And, I enjoyed myself immensely on both.
As for 'cost', take pity on my situation: I'm Australian and the Euro is worth A$1.8, so E160 = A$290.
- - - -
Most visitors to the GE don't see a Gibbon.
So, why go?
Well, knowing that some of my money was being used to help protect Gibbon habitat was in itself satisfying. Know that at the moment, the guy responsible for the GE is in the courts trying to stop the Provincial Chief from logging the area. If the Provincial Chief gets his way, he gets a luxurious lifestyle, the locals lose their habitat (which provides them with food) and a good income source (from the GE), and the Gibbon lose their lives.
I was also considering doing a trek through the Nam Tha National Protected Area. After the GE - which in part traverses good rainforest - I realised I'd had perhaps a better trek experience than I'd have with a trekking company. So, the trekking aspect of the GE is worth the money (you'll pay half the GE money to go on a 2 day trek with GreenDiscovery).
The GE guides were local H!Mong. Their English was good. They talked with us about their life, their culture, their fears, and their aspirations. I doubt I would have received such an insight into the local H!Mong culture in northern Laos by undertaking other options.
There were 7 of us in the group, and we slept in treehouses. We ate communally, and the challenges became group challenges, the enjoyments became group enjoyments. I'm sure that will not happen for every GE group, but I felt it was an added bonus.
I made a 'blog' of my experiences:
The beginning section has a few vids of the ziplining.
- - - -
In the end, the decision to spend the money is yours. But, if you choose to go, I doubt you'll regret any aspect.
#3 Posted: 5/6/2009 - 05:19
I am quite intrigued by the Gibbon Experience. I've read a bit about it and it looks like good fun. I'm sure we would enjoy being out in the jungle and am sure we could cope with the basic facilities, the bugs and the leeches. However, I confess that I'm not so keen on heights and am unsure whether zipping around on a wire at some height is what I want to do. I can't decide whether I would find the experience exhilarating (as so many clearly do) or just downright terrifying.
Any thoughts on this ? Is this a trip that most adventurous travellers would enjoy, or is it more something for the bungee jumper type traveller ? (I would NOT do a bungee jump, by the way. I am 50, my wife 46, pretty fit, reasonably well travelled and not fazed by too much. But heights .....hmmmm).
#4 Posted: 8/6/2009 - 21:09
I personally can't stand heights. But, my acrophobia is exacerbated when I am able to focus on the drop below. In KL recently, I went up skytower and couldn't look down as it made me wobbly at the knees.
I didn't have a problem with the ziplines. I think it is because one begins at ground level, and really doesn't spend much (any?) time focussing on the ground.
You wrote: "Any thoughts on this ? Is this a trip that most adventurous travellers would enjoy, or is it more something for the bungee jumper type traveller ? (I would NOT do a bungee jump, by the way. I am 50, my wife 46, pretty fit, reasonably well travelled and not fazed by too much. But heights .....hmmmm)".
My wife & I would NEVER bungee jump!! If you go look at the vid part of our blog (noted above), you'll see we're a decade older than you guys (and maybe a less fit). We had a ball.
#5 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 06:17
Hi, Brucemoon and thanks for your response.
I have tried to look at your blog, but can't get it to work. I've looked at other vids, though and I must say that apart from whooping, people don't tend to look too scared.
I'm still a bit confused by one or two aspects of the zips. Are you strapped in ? ie is it impossible to fall out ? Also, how do you get up to the treehouse in the first place ? Are there ladders ? I assume ziplines can't go uphill.
My wife is also a little concerned about what happens when you fall a bit short of the platform you're aiming at and have to pull yourself in ? Is that tough ?
I have found the GE website a bit thin on information and have found it a little difficult to get a full perspective as to just how tough (and indeed safe) the whole trip is.
#6 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 16:30
Pity those vids can't be opened by you. You'd see the 'gear'.
The GE gear is no different to that used in other places in the world. I think its French - if not, European - made.
- - - -
Is one strapped in? Yes, I'll try and explain.
One has a harness that is a webbing belt that goes around one's waist. So imagine a big round belt going around your waist. As well, there are two leg straps. So, with the imagined big belt, imagine two further loops (or half loops precisely) attached to the belt loop, through which one puts each leg through (ie. one leg through one loop, the other through the other loop). Thus, one is supported around the waist, and at the top of the thighs. For a pic, go to:
Attached to the front of the belt loop is a strap holding a stainless steel arrangement that has two roller wheels. The rider places the two wheels (locked into the device) onto the steel zipline (about 16mm) so that one can roll forward. The roller wheel arrangement has a lockable cover so that once one takes their hands off, it cannot come undone. For a pic, go to:
Even so, at GE, they are not satisfied with this alone. As well, there is a rope with a stainless steel carabiner that is also attached to the steel zipline as a back-up safety mechanism. For a pic of an aluminium one, go see:
- - - - -
The steel zipline has its own weight. So, the middle of the zipline is much lower than the points at which it is attached to the valley sides.
Ideally, one allows one to travel at full speed to traverse the valley. But, yes, there are times when one stops short. For these occasions, one has already purchased some rubber coated cotton gloves to wear ($1 / pair at Huay Xai) and so turns around on the swing buckle (attaching the pulley to the waist loop) and hand over hand pulls oneself to the 'end'.
Both my wife & I experienced this on occasions. It wasn't any big deal.
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The treehouse is reached by a zipline. The zipline goes from the valley side to the tree holding the treehouse (and out with another zipline from the other side). So, one zips to the treehouse. Then 'unattaches' from the zipline and does their 'thing'. Then 'rehooks' to the zipline and zips out to do whatever is next on the list.
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I found a vid elsewhere that shows ziplining. Please don't take into account the web walk as that's not at GE. The vid shows the harness gear, the hooking of the running gear on the steel zipline, and travelling on the zipline. Go see:
Also, a pic shows a couple with the gear on.
Another in Sth america shows the 'feeling' of a zipline. In this, there are 2 on the line. GE will only allow one on the line. At the end of the vid, you can see the 1st person 'pulling in'.
- - -
Hope this helps.
#7 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 18:23
Here are more vids.
When you watch, remember that the vid is being taken by the person on the zipline. (as I did). The noise on most is amplified as that is a function of the camera. It doesn't sound that loud. Anyway, if one can zipline AND take a vid, it's a demonstration that its easy to master.
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This pic shows the ziplines to - from a treehouse..
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This one shows a person having to hand-over-hand to 'come in'...
another showing the zipfun..
These tow show more of going to atreehouse. The first shows the zipling gear. The rubber on top is a brake if you need it. I only needed it once.
#8 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 19:09
Wow, thanks for all the info.
I have found there is a company in the UK called Go Ape, who do ziplining. They appear to have quite a few centres, including one quite close to where we live. I think we may have a look at that before deciding for sure. I think I'd like to do it, but would prefer to have at least some experience of what we're letting ourselves in for before heading into the jungle.
#9 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 20:53
The Go Ape website vid (at the top) shows an almost identical 'gear' arrangement to that used in GE.
The vid shows a 'jump off' that appears a little more rugged than the ones at GE.
#10 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 05:03
6th June, 2009
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OK, I hate Laos, I'm not into trekking, but I might go for this. This sounds like a great experience, and I love anything else that smells of adrenaline! Thanks for the info guys.
#11 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 13:17
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