Bokeo Nature Reserve lies in the Laos’ province of the same name. The nature reserve encompasses a land area of around 106,000 hectares, and was primarily established to protect the black-cheeked gibbon, who were almost extinct due to extensive poaching in the area. Thanks to the conservation organization, Animo, the poachers turned into guides and guardians of the nature reserve. These days, they earn their living by assisting guests in various eco-tourism activities including the popular Gibbon Experience.
The Gibbon Experience is the ultimate eco-tourism package offered to visitors of the Bokeo Nature Reserve. This experience combines wildlife viewing, jungle exploration and thrills. Through this trip, you get the chance to watch the gibbons in their natural wild environment. Unfortunately, seeing these monkeys is not a guarantee as they are naturally shy creatures. Some of the lucky visitors may get glimpses of them or even hear their calls.
Luckily, there’s more in the experience than just catching these fascinating creatures in action; as you will also get a glimpse of how they live in the thick forest. The Gibbon Experience also involves participants going through a series of ziplines that crisscross the canopy of the lush forest. Some of these ziplines can measure more than 500 meters! While doing this incredible adrenaline-pumping activity, you may even get to see other animals in the wild like clouded leopards, black bears and tigers! The guides will be there every step of the way. They will give you a safety orientation, and instructions on how to check the knots in your harness and how to use your brake.
This unforgettable excursion is scheduled to last for three days. The days are filled with forest adventures. At night, you get to stay at designated thatched tree-houses tucked within forested hills. These houses are nestled about 40 meters above the ground, which enables you to get spectacular views of the forest. They are spaced far from each other and some of them are able to accommodate up to 8 people. Meals cooked by locals in rustic kitchens are also provided for guests. Take note that there’s no electricity in these houses, so pre-charge your camera or any of your electronic gadgets before making the trip.
Keep in mind that the trip involves a great deal of trekking, so make sure to wear a good pair of hiking boots, long socks and hiking attire. Other essential things to bring on this trip includes flashlight, ziplining gloves, water bottle and earplugs and any necessary medications. If you would like to be more comfortable, you can opt for the gibbon spa package, which features better lodging, massages and gourmet food. Aside from the standard three-day trip, a two-day experience is also offered for those who have limited time to spend in the nature reserve.
Another variation of the Gibbon Experience is one that includes a three-hour trek along the Nam Nga River. This particular excursion is appropriately named the Waterfall Gibbon Experience. It takes you deep into the Bokeo Nature Reserve and eventually to two tree houses. One of the tree houses is close to a waterfall and refreshing swimming hole; while the other one features wonderful sunset and valley panoramas.