KERRY - So we had signed up to the Gibbon Experience in the wet season! A 3 day Trek into the Bokeo National Park. They do warn you what will be involved in the 3 days and that you do need to trek for 6 hrs to get there and 8 hrs to get back, and you do listen to this and take it on board and then completely disregard it and think it can not be that bad! Or that is what happened to us! i must just say at this point if Andrei was writing this then he may not be as negative about the experience as i am, but if i gave any advice to people it would be DO NOT DO THIS TRIP IN THE WET SEASON!!
We were a group of 7 people, Andrei and I and a guy called Dan from the UK, as well as 2 dutch girls - Durske and Eiffee who were sisters, and 2 Italian guys - Luca and Christian.
We set off at aboout 8.45 am on Wednesday and the van took us about an hrs drive before the walking began! It had started to pour down already so i was really happy as we got out of the van and donned our fetching green ponchos and started to walk. What happened over the next 6 hrs is a bit of a blur, but it invovled walking through/across rivers for the first 30 mins - then a long walk on a dirt road for about 5 hrs up and down so v v steep hills (which i thought was the worst part....but little did i know) and then 1.5 hrs of walking across more rivers and thick thick mud, up some really really steep steps to get to the first zipline to reach our treehouse! I swear by the time we got to the stop to get our harnesses , we still had 10 mins to go and i was already panicking about how i was going to make it back on day 3! i was absolutley exhausted.
But the zip lining was brilliant! and as i was so knackered i think a lot of my fear dissapeared as i was too tired to worry about how high up we were. The first zip into our treehouse number 1 was excellent and we had a lot more time to zip line the 2nd day! We got to the treehouse, which was really cool and had an amazing view over the rest of the forest! We slept in the 'bed' up on the 2nd floor of the house (i say bed, it was a matress on the floor with a mossie net covering us). The view from the shower was also awesome! you did not get any luxuries here, but we were all so tired that a cold shower to wash off our mud and sweat from the day was great, as was the feeling of getting into clean clothes!. Our dinner was rice and veg, which we found was to be our staple diet over the next few days.
The Gibbon Experience (Day 1):
We ate our dinner as the sun went down and our torches and candles came out and we started to get a little bit scared about the noises we were hearing all around us in the jungle!
Day 2 - we were all up around 5.45 am as our guide had said that we may be going for a trek to see some Gibbons, but as it was raining we did not get to do this, so instead we went out on some of the zip lines. We were all feeling pretty knackered as we had not slept that well as we listened to the sounds of the jungle and waited for the pet rats to eat our bags!! It was raining and we were stinking from our wet and smelly clothes from the day before, but we did not care once we were zipping accross the canopy. It was a brilliant experience. The views were fabulous as the mist rose over the jungle.
The Gibbon Experience (Day 1): Kerry - on top of her game already!
After our breakfast we had a 2 hr trek ahead of us to get to our 2nd treehouse- treehouse 5. I was really tired after this small amount of walking, but the zip into the treehouse was excellent and the view again stunnnig. It had stopped raining and the sun was out and the treehouse seemed to be much more isolated from other trees than our house the night before. It was not as clean as the last house though, but that was probably becuase of the zip line in and out of the house that people had been using to have fun on! And we had fun as well, but by the time it got to 5pm i was so exhausted again that it was time for another spectacular shower view and dinner. (although i culd not bring my self to each that much as the food was really not that nice!) After a few rounds of cards we all retired to bed, after dealing with a huge spider and rat - which decided to piss in our bed !! A great start to the evening!
Day 3 - the dreaded day of the journey back had arrived and none of us were in a rush to get up and out of bed as we knew what horrors lay ahead for us!! We ended up leaving the house around 7.
The Gibbon Experience (Day 1): A bloody noising insect!
45 am and start our walk back. We had a 2 hr hike to the point where we could hand back our harneses and then another 45 mins till we got to the village where the dirt track started and we could walk on dry terrain! By this point i had given up trying to keep my boots clean and dry (and i was so upset as they had been cleaned so nicely in Chiang Mai!) The first 2 hrs were hell for me as we went up hill for about an hour! it was so tiriing and i had no energy at all and the guide was not waiting for Andrei or I so i got upset that we were going to be lost in the jungle. Once out of the jungle i did feel much better as we were over the worst of the mud (i have never been so dirty in my life!!) but then the sun came out and it was a killer walking up the hills in that! After 4 hrs we made it to the little bridge that we had started at on day 1 and I nearlly cried from relief.
The Gibbon Experience (Day 1): Rice?
I felt so emotional as we walked down the main road to meet our van, i really didn't beleive i was going to make it back!! This trek was the hardest thing i have ever done and i thought the Inca trail was hard!!!
If you are going to do the Gibbon Experience, and i would recommend it (despite all my moans above) then PLEASE only do it in dry season as i am sure it woiud be a much more pleasent experience and you would not be as knackered. Remember though that:
you will get dirty, even in dry season!
you will meet rats and creepy crawlies,
you will get sick of the food so take lots of snacks
despite the marketing material, there are not proper beds in the houses
you will LOVE the zipping as it is amazing!
It is a lot of money to pay to do this @ over 200 US dollars each ( and the price does not change in the wet season, which we think is wrong really!) so make sure you are aware of what is involved!