The big Indochina trip: Tree Top Explorer 

When I got my eye infection some days ago I missed my booking at The Gibbon Experience where you zipline through the jungle and stay overnight in a treehouse. Here in Pakse there is a similar thing called Tree Top Explorer and when I read about it in my guidebook I decided I should do it as compensation for the one I missed. I Just came back to the city after doing it and and I will say right away that it was great.

After picking up our group as well as a TV team from Thailand filming a travel show, we set off by minibus  to the Bolaven plateau, about an hour from Pakse. There we were given harnesses equipped with safety cords and zipline pulleys, hard hats and little hooked sticks to be used as brakes. We then had to trek for about two hours, first along a dirt road and then through the jungle on a steep, slippery path. After some lunch in a simple wooden pavilion overlooking a waterfall we reached the first zipline. Our guide gave us a lesson in how to hook up to the wire safely and how to use the brake, then off we went.

Waterfall at the lunch place

Crossing the river by two-wire bridge

Two of the girls coming in for landing on one of the first ziplines 

The view from the platform

Absailing down to the next platform

The first zipline was short and low over the ground but after that they got progressively longer and more exhilarating, the most exiting ones passing high over the valley, right in front of a big waterfall. Adrenaline fueled fun amidst beautiful scenery, what more can you ask for?

The big waterfall from one of the ziplines 

Great views along the way 

The guide coming for landing

One of the girls coming in on the zipline

The waterfall from the last zipline of the day

By mid afternoon we had done ten ziplines and came down to a couple of houses on platforms. We stayed there the rest of the afternoon and evening, relaxing, looking at the view and I even had a shower at the foot of the nearby waterfall. After dinner sat chatting by the fire until around nine. At that time we had to strap on our harnesses again for the final zipline to our treehouse. 

I thought it would be a big treehouse but instead our group was split up into several of them and I got my own. The pace was kind of spartan, with large gaps in the floor and a single naked lightbulb under the roof but there was a bathroom and a bed with a sleeping bag and mosquito net. I was a bit afraid it might be too hot but at the high altitude of the plateau it wasn’t a problem. What was worse was all the moths that were drawn to the light then stayed in the house, and when I went to the bathroom just before going to bed, they kept swarming around  and even landing on me. It wasn’t my most comfortable night ever but quite an experience.

Inside my treehouse 

Some of the treehouses 

The next day we started zip lining right after breakfast. Zooming through the sky high above a jungle clad valley is quite a way to start your morning. The sixth or seventh zipline (I lost count) was the longest at about 450 meters. The others were exciting but this one was really special because when you thought you were close to the end, you still had some distance to go. 

Beautiful views all the way 

Zipping through the jungle 

View from the lunch platform 

After doing a total of 13 ziplines we were rather low down and had to hike back up to the platforms for lunch. After lunch we continued hiking upwards along steep and rutted paths.It was hard going but eventually we were almost at the top. From there we had to climb a so called via ferrata to continue. Via ferrata is a kind of path made from metal brackets drilled into the rock face. It’s kind of like rock climbing except you have guaranteed hand and foot holds. Climbing up was a little bit scary but great fun.

Start of the via ferrata 

Some of the guys behind me on the way up

One of the guys coming over a ledge

The final bit to the top

After the climb we soon reached the top of the big waterfall and could look down over the valley and the ziplines below. Standing there felt like quite an achievement.

Water going over the edge

Standing at the top

From the top of the waterfall we had a little bit more hiking through the jungle before we reached the road. Then it was just the rather boring walk back to the village and the bus back to the city.

Group photo 

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