Monday, December 28, 2015

Laos: Treetop Explorer and Jungle Hotel in Paksong

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

As the pack went further through the thick forest of Paksong, me and my buddy were struggling. With harness and our dry bags in tow, we’re trekking into the wild and learned how to abseil, zip-line, rock climbing, aerial walk through canopies inside the thick forest and more. It wasn’t our typical kinda thing to do and we almost gave up but the feeling afterwards was very rewarding. Our Treetop Explorer at Jungle Hotel in Paksong adventure was truly one of the remarkable experiences in the entire trip. And oh, did I tell you that we slept on a tree house that you needed to zip-line in?

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

There’s this couple from South Africa, a mom and daughter tandem from England, two French guys, Laotian friends, a guy from the States, and there’s us; trekking into the wild with harness and stuff clinging to our bodies. Everyone seemed so excited with the guys from the Green Discovery team sweeping for us (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Luang Prabang).

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Strapped harness, helmet and dry bag all throughout the trek...
It was during our one-week jaunt in Pakse, Southern Laos when we signed up for this two-day adventure challenge at Treetop Explorer at Jungle Hotel Paksong by Green Discovery. We heard that they are the best for all-out adventure on this side of Laos and we impulsively booked for it, realizing afterwards that we’re not really fit and ready to do so, uh-oh.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
I dunno how I did it but yeah, I survived.
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

It was the perfect day as we prepped up for the exploration. Me and my buddy dropped our huge backpacks on Green Discovery’s lockers at their Pakse office and brought just the right amount of stuff for our two-day jaunt. Trainers, dry bags, water container and trek pants are definitely must-haves.


Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Our very innovative zip-line stopper
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Let's do this!
We traveled from Pakse to Ban Nongluang in Paksong and arrived at the headquarters after about an hour or so. We were then handed some bottled water and equipment for the activities; we have to trek wearing those. After a quick briefing on safety precautions and what to expect, we went ahead on a hot summer morning and started the exploration.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

With the cool breeze of Paksong, it was an easy hike at first. But when I felt the dragging pull of the harness and our stuff after walking for an hour, it all felt like a punishment. I had no inclination on mountain stuff and all so I was kinda frustrated when I noticed how fast and easy they comb the woods while I suffer even on the easy hikes. Asian legs, I kept on telling my guide.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Amazing view during the zip
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Not for the faint-hearted
After another hour, we settled somewhere for a quick break and noticed that the guides were preparing our lunch. They searched for banana leaves and spread it out along the trail. After which, they arranged our feast for that afternoon; my first Laotian feast during the Laos leg of our two-month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Legit Laotian feast right in the middle of the forest.
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
One of our very helpful guides
We had steamed rice with grilled pork, boiled eggs, and other Laotian dishes that were mostly veggies. After the sumptuous feast we’re back on track again.

The arduous trek winds down into steep slopes and boulders. We reached our first zip-line afterwards where we were taught how to hook ourselves and use the innovative stopper they gave us. Our first ever zip-line was refreshing and very satisfying. And then we went abseiling below and more cable criss-crossing across the lush and thick forest of Paksong.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Briefing
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Zip
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Abseil
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Tandem zip
We got the hype after doing a dozen or so zip-lines. We ended up on the Jungle Hotel which will be our home for the night. Bottles of Beer Lao (yes, they’re selling it here) were guzzled after exchanging stories from the challenging trek.

The hotel, I must say, is a very unique one. It is settled in the middle of the forest with log cabins surrounding it. We had the perfect view of the great Kamet waterfalls. Bathrooms were available with hot and cold showers (such a luxury in this side of the wordl). We had a great night chatting with our newfound friends and didn’t notice that it was almost dinnertime.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Even this feline was amazed with the view from the camp
It was waiting for us; steamed rice, chicken curry with vegetables and more were served. Mineral water fresh from the mountains was also available. We capped off the night with another bull session over cups of strong Paksong coffee that was freshly brewed in the camp. And then Boun, the head guide, gave us our treehouse assignments for the night. This is one of my favorite parts.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Freshly brewed Paksong coffee
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Chicken curry for dinner
Me and my buddy were assigned on a lone treehouse somewhere. There were six treehouses and all the while I thought that we’ll be joining other groups on a house, but we owned one for the night.

We strapped our harnesses again and without help from the guide, we zipped our way into the darkness through our house. That was thrilling and scary at the same time.

Our treehouse had three bunk beds with sleeping bags and pillows, mosquito nets, lounge chairs and its own toilet with running water, plenty of tissue papers and a bidet, yes, those comforts in the middle of the forest.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos Jungle Hotel
We had our own toilet on our treehouse, with bidet!
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos Jungle Hotel

It was eerie at first, hearing the fiddling sound of crickets. But we got used to it after a little while. I wanted to just stay there for like a day more and do nothing but just sit and read a good book; the perfect place for those solitude moments.

I was awoken by the sound of pouring rain after an hour or so of comfortably sleeping inside my sleeping bag. It was the perfect jungle experience; hearing the hissing sound from the birds or crickets or bugs and the endless patter of rain.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos Jungle Hotel
We had to zip to go to our treehouse
I woke up just in time for the sunrise that seemed to be lost in the thick foggy morning. I sat on the chair and was amazed on the view we had from the treehouse. There were birds freely hovering around their vast playground and the dewdrops on the trees from last night’s rain. It was comparable to nothing, totally amazing.

I brushed my teeth, woke my buddy up and strapped my harness back. We zipped our way back to camp where breakfast was waiting for us. The rest of the guys were happily chatting about their experiences on the treehouse. It seemed like we all had the same fun experiences.


Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Breakfast
After having a quick breakfast, we went on and continued with the adventures. We had to trek some more for another round of challenging zip-lines, aerial walk and the highlight of the cables, the 400-meter zip-line across the stunning view of nature at its best. One of my favorites!

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Hook, climb, unhook, climb...
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
This is easy. Haha.
The trek was made harder by the muddy slopes from the last night’s rain. The occasional drizzle was also an obstacle. But with the help of our lovely guides, we knew that we’re all safe and secure in spite and despite everything.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Should. Wear. Shoes.
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Legit aerial walk
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
400-meter long baby!
We were out of breath as we arrived back at camp. Lunch was already served and we’re prepping up for our retreat. It was such a short time but it was packed with adventures all throughout.

I thought it would an easy trek back, but no.


Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

We slowly trekked uphill where we had to pass a canopy walk across a waterfall and ending on a steep river valley and trekked some more up to the most challenging part; my favorite challenge ever!

A steep rock wall was our dead end with via ferrata (iron road) as our only way out. We were shown on how to fasten our harness and how to cross it. We’re all stunned as Boun effortlessly passed through it.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Via Ferrata on a vertical rock wall
Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

I asked to be the last one to go so as to get the nerves out of me. And as I strapped on to the first bolt and pushed myself up to the next one, I felt the excitement inside me. It was exhilarating as you get to enjoy the great view while figuring out on how to clip your way to the next iron bolt. It was awesome.

The rewarding part after the steep rock wall climb was an open plateau on top of the highest peaks in the area overlooking three waterfalls and just the perfect panoramic view of Mekong and into Thailand. This was the view anyone would die for.

I wish we could just stay here, pitch tents and have barbecue and beer party but no, we had to move on to the last part of the trek.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
The lovely reward after the arduous trek...
Again, the muddy trail welcomed us and pumped up the game to a much higher level. And then my buddy complained of a sprained ankle. Uh-oh

Boun and the other guides assisted my buddy as he struggled with his injury. I had to take off his harness and the guides took his stuff as they helped him climb and trek the very muddy and slippery trail. We also ran out of water so they searched for a safe drinking water from a natural spring and gave it to my buddy.

Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Fresh spring water
We, of course, were the last team to arrive (we will be eliminated if this is an Amazing Race-ish kinda thing) and everyone cheered as we emerged from the route. High fives and hugs were exchanged and off we went back to Pakse, all in one piece.

I may not be as adventurous as the others on the group but I do love the Treetop Explorer and the Jungle Hotel by Green Discovery in Laos. This experience set the bar high for my next treetop adventures, if there will be more. Haha.


Green Discovery Treetop Explorer Paksong Laos
Thank you so much Boun and to the rest of the Green Discovery team!

Check out some of our video clips from the Treetop Explorer! You gotta tilt your head though. Haha




oopssss... sorry...

Well, as we climbed up to our shuttle van, I noticed that there's something icky on my foot. I checked it out and noticed some bloated leeches feasting on my precious blood. I was bleeding for an hour after I squished them. Ugh!


Leeches Paksong Laos
Blame leeches. It didn't hurt. But they sucked loads.

Treetop Explorer at Jungle Hotel Paksong
Operated by Green Discovery Laos
Contact Number: (+856) 212.646.80
Email Address: treetop@greendiscoverylaos.com






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