The Gibbon Experience was one of the most surreal adventures of my life. If you have already read the blog post, you know why. If not, be sure to do so by clicking here.
I find it incredible that the idea for a tourist attraction of this scale was even conceived, let alone built into reality. The Northern Bokeo Jungle is one of the most remote places you can travel to in Laos, and I am sure it was no small task to build giant tree houses with western amenities and connect them with zip lines.
That’s why I find the history of The Gibbon Experience a very interesting topic. What inspired this massive undertaking and where did the idea come from in the first place?
The History of the Gibbon Experience
In order to understand the motive for creating the gibbon experience, I must talk about the magnificent animal behind it all.
Gibbons are an incredibly fast, agile and acrobatic primate. They are very small for an ape, but their arms are the longest in proportion to their body of any primate, measuring at about twice the length. Their fingers are two times longer than ours, which allows them to fly from tree to tree almost faster than the eye can follow and with a grace and fluidity that puts a Thai ballet dancer to shame.
At their top speed, they can move through the canopy at 60 kilometers per hour!
We got to see one in Borneo up close and can confirm this all to be true. Unfortunately, these amazing animals have almost been hunted to extinction with only 1500 to 2000 left in the world.
Starting in 2005, The Gibbon Experience, (GE) set out to stop poaching in their region in North Western Laos by paying the best Gibbon hunters more to become the protectors of the animals that they formerly hunted.
The GE needed a creative way to support all their new employees, (they now have more than a hundred Gibbon guards from seven villages and many more employees) while protecting the natural environment for the gibbons. They figured that if people were living in tree houses it would be impossible to cut down the trees.
With heights of more than 45 meters, climbing a ladder to reach them would not be possible. Thus, the zip lining network was born!
The Gibbon Experience now consists of 8 tree houses and more than 25 Zip lines! If you scan carefully while you are flying through the air, you can see even more tree houses under construction. (See if you can locate the picture with the hidden treehouse under construction in my story about the gibbon Experience!)
What other programs have turned to tourism in order to create an environmentally positive impact?