The Tree Top Explorer in the south of Laos simply blows one’s head off! Deep inside a national park and away from bustling city life, this parcours offers excellent trekking that culminates in flying through the jungle on zip-lines, the most extensive and longest in the region. Canopy walkways and a ‘via ferrata’ add to the challenges to be mastered. If that’s not enough, the night is spent in romantic tree houses which let you easily forget the bravery of the day by the tranquillizing sound of waterfalls surrounding the visitor.
Known for his keen sense of the outstanding and the hip, Inthy Deuansavan, the heart and soul behind Green Discovery Laos, “has done it again” by launching his new Tree Top Explorer and Jungle Hotel project in Champasak Province! His visions and strength of purpose giving all his pioneering projects over the span of 10 years a special touch as they all become remarkably well known trademarks in the Lao tourism landscape, such as Green Discovery, Khop Chai Deu, Inthira Boutique Hotels to name just some. Inthy is nowadays regarded as the outdoor expert par excellence in Laos.
The rugged mountain range to the west of the Dong Hua Sao Protected Are not far from Pakse, is characterized by very steep slopes where pristine forest remains. Here, almost secluded from the outside world, the core of activities and ‘après trek’ leisure takes place in the midst of a small, heavily forested basin valley. It’s a gem of another civilization without phone and internet, car nor urban noise pollution. Waterfalls, truly magnificent waterfalls, seem to be around everywhere. The zip-line experience in the face of these giant water walls gives the whole endeavor its special edge, while the tree houses offer vistas of serene jungle in a relaxed atmosphere.
Praised for its sincere and no-nonsense approach to corporate responsibility, the project received valuable support during its formation period from IUCN (The World Organization for the Conservation of Nature) for its pledge to include and help the local people to avoid any harmful impact on the environment, the combination of which are seen as a significant contribution the sustainability of the venture. 25 families are now directly or indirectly on the payroll. Small hydro-electric turbines generate power from flowing water nearby. The design of all physical structures and use of safety equipment strictly matches world-class criteria and corresponding training of staff follows international norms.
The three day jungle tour starts with a visit to Ban Nongluang (only about 60 km from Pakse), followed by a 5 km trek through small vegetable gardens and coffee plantations before jungle and wild rock formations gradually replace the cultivated land. It’s now steadily going down, not up! Ravines, rock plateaus, giggling creeks have to be passed until a canopy walkway pushes the adrenalin level up when crossing a steep valley with the small river deep down. It’s not far anymore to reach the highlight of the project: the small jungle hotel with its six simple but nevertheless spacious if not even luxurious, tree houses more than 20m above the ground!
Each of these “bungalows” is clinging like a bird’s nest to the trunk of a forest giant – and can only be entered via a zip-line. .. It’s definitely private here. And quiet – unless the vibrant sounds of the forest and falling water are considered to be noise pollutants. A toilet, attached to each house, adds to a hazard-free retreat, just in case. During night time, the extra-ordinary charm of the tree village turns into the fabulous when its lights put a stark contrast to the bizarre tree branches reaching out of the dark.
In an open but roofed platform – the restaurant – delicious meals are prepared for a great dining experience in the jungle. Local food, a mouthwatering barbeque, good cold or hot drinks are a great way to recharge the body for a day of outstanding activity. Green energy refrigerators provide for unspoiled food and cool liquids for the party ‘apres-zip’ in the evening.
The absolute thrill of it all, however, is the string of zip-lines (see video). Stunning, unmatched, sheer joy! 10 separate lines, the longest of them stretching over 450 m, are definite highlights: flying from platforms as high as 25 meter above the forest floor through the jungle’s top layers with great views of densely forest covered mountains slowly disappearing in the distant mist, and waterfalls as a spectacular backdrop. The even more adventurous, for whom this is not enough, may as an extra, try to go abseiling from a huge rock wall, maybe even inside the plunging water! The last challenge on the day of return is to master a ‘via ferrata’, after which the one hour trek back to Ban Nongluang appears to be nothing more than a family stroll.
For those with less time available this adventure can be done in two days by dropping the zips on day two from the itinerary. Whether opting for two days or three, zipping in the jungle on these extrordinary exercises does require a level of physical strength, though. Nevertheless, the tour is open for all ages as long as one feels strong enough. The youngest participant to date was seven and the oldest sixty-eight!
Conclusion: The Tree Top Explorer is an adventure everyone will enjoy without doubt. Moreover, it offers an ideal basis for special group tours, company incentives and team building activities. Fun is guaranteed – as are memories of an unparalleled experience of a lifetime and, for the one or the other, some inspiration for the future!