Tree Top Explorer

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Despite Amanda feeling terrible, she decided that she wanted to go ahead and go on the Treetop Explorer jungle zipline trek.  She loaded up on medicine and we went back to the Green Discovery office in Pakse where we met up with the Israelis and two more fellow travelers: Damien from Austalia and Sarah from Ireland.  The 9 of us took a 90 minute van ride to Bolavan Plateau (famous for growing Laotian Coffee) to a small village. We were given our harnesses, helmets and brakes (aka hooked wooden sticks) and started to hike into jungle.  On the first day we, covered about 10 zip lines.  A few of them even criss crossed right in front of a giant waterfall!  We ate lunch in the jungle on banana leaves, which Boun (our guide) and our three local villager guides were carrying.  The meals were really good and consisted of sticky rice and Lao salsa (always) along with several plates of assorted veggies and meats.  After lunch, Amanda was feeling too sick to carry her bag so the guide helped out, but even so, she was still having so much fun on the zip lines!! In the early evening we arrived at the tree houses and our main camp. It was a gorgeous set up overlooking a huge waterfall. The main camp area had a fire pit, kitchen and tables for eating. Amanda went to sleep right away (after zipping to our tree house!) while the rest of us ate dinner and indulged in our boxed wine!

One cool thing about the camp was that it was powered by a small hydroelectric generator from the waterfall.  This meant that in the morning we could take hot showers!  Some people actually just showered right in the waterfall though because it was so refreshing.  On the second day, Amanda was feeling much better but unfortunately our new friend Sarah had started to feel really sick.  We spent the day trecking up and around the waterfall and did several more really long zips.  The longest was 450 meters and was absolutely amazing!  The feeling of flying through and over the jungle for that long of a distance is indescribable.  We had lunch near a river and some small waterfalls which we were able to swim in and cool off.  Then we hiked to another enormous waterfall that you could actually walk behind along a cliff to get some amazing views of the waterfall spray.  That night we were all a bit wet from the waterfalls and rain, so we warmed ourselves by the fire and drank some lao lao (locally made Laotian Whiskey), which was served in a plastic water bottle and tastes a bit like moonshine.  The Israelis taught us a hilarious card game called Coo Coo Riku (I think?)  that has a million rules and involves making certain animal noises at certain times depending on which card and color were played.  When we finally zipped back to the treehouse, Mandy was a bit distressed to see that an animal (rat?) had eaten through the mesh pocket of her day pack to eat some raisins that she had stashed there and then pooped in her bed.

On the third day, we only did a couple of zips but there were a few other unbelievable experiences.  In the morning we hiked up the giant waterfall by our camp.  If you’ve ever seen Multnomah falls in Oregon, it’s about the same size.  Enormous.   From the top of the waterfall, the guides strung up a huge rope that led back down near the camp.  Then we took turns tying the rope to our harnesses and absailing down, which basically means that you’re not zipping but slowly being lowered down by the rope.  But in order to do this, you first have to step off of the lip of the waterfall..backwards.  It was incredibly scary but so beautiful and fun.  But it turns out that that wasn’t even the scariest part of the day.  Finally, we had to scale out of the area with the camp by climbing a sheer cliff wall that had several posts (similar in shape to ladder rungs) inserted into it.  There was a cable running alongside the posts, and basically we would climb up a few steps, then hook our harness onto the cable for safety.  The cliff was several hundred feet high, in the spray of the waterfall and the climb included blind sharp turns, steps hanging from the roof and in general was ridiculously crazy and scary.   A few people said if they knew about it from the beginning they might not have signed up.  But after we all got safely to the top, the rush of euphoria and the beautiful view made it all worthwhile.

Overall, the trek was one of the highlights of our entire trip.  We had both been ziplining before but never like this.  The zips, the tree houses, the trekking, the unbelievable views, the food, the company, and the guides all combined to make an incredible experience.  It is also really nice to see that this eco friendly business is providing training and jobs for the extremely poor villagers in the area.  We were sad to have to say goodbye to our new friends, but were excited to head up to Luang Prabang in the north of Laos and slow things down a little bit.

+Gallery
  • Whole Group From Treetop Explorer
  • Jungle Lunch
  • Mandy is Sick During Lunch
  • Part 1: Cross a Log Bridge
  • The Whole Crew
  • Tree Top Team Up
  • Oy!
  • Just the Very Beginning
  • Climbing a Cliff in the Rain
  • Higher than it looks
  • Waiting at the Base of the Waterfall
  • So Happy to Be Alive
  • So Happy to Be Alive
  • TreeTopExplorer1440_-39
  • Long Way Down
  • TreeTopExplorer1440_-37
  • Amanda Getting Ready to Absail Down
  • The Hardest Part is Over
  • So Scary
  • Absailing down the waterfall
  • About a 500ft drop
  • The Moment of Truth
  • Getting Ready to Absail off the top of the waterfall
  • Relaxing at Camp after a long day of hiking
  • Zipping Away from the Treehouse
  • Our Treehouse camp in the jungle
  • Our Tree House Entrance
  • Our Treehouse Bathroom
  • Rare Monkeys Climbing the Cliff Face
  • Jungle River Lunch
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • Hiking Behind the Waterfall
  • TreeTopExplorer1440_-15
  • Cooking Dinner at Camp
  • The View from our Camp
  • The View from our Camp
  • We made it!
  • Taking a Nap on the Platform
  • HIke through the wet waterfall base
  • Hiking by a Huge Waterfall
  • Zipping with Amazing View
  • One of the First Zips
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Posted: June 26, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Asia, Blog, Continents, Laos

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