There is something to be said for eco-tourism. I am all for any scheme that allows you to trek into the jungle, sleep in tree houses, travel by zip wire while looking for monkeys.
It is an amazing scheme, massively painful to get to (probably a good thing) but amazing all the same. Seven tree houses built in the middle of the northwestern Laos jungle joined together by a network of zip-wire cables, some up to a kilometre long.
At 160 Euros a head for the three-day waterfall tour it is uber expensive when compared to day-to-day travel in Laos but it was definitely worth every cent. The jungle is beautiful and the zip wires are mind-blowing fun. It also ticks a lot of boxes for the contentious traveler. Established by a foreigner, the management of the project has since been handed back to the locals who are also employed as guides, cooks, drivers, builders and for maintenance. The scheme is located in an area nominally designated as a National park but as the government does not provide protectionist resources illegal logging and poaching are rife. The Gibbon Experience now funds the employment of local rangers to patrol 25% of the park.
I would love to meet the dude who had the imagination to visualize such a scheme let alone the ability to bring it to fruition.
Unfortunately no Gibbons for us. Apparently you have to be quite lucky to see them at this time of year. We heard them, saw where they slept and where they ate. It was just like going to an open for inspection of a rental property that still has tenants living in it. Nonetheless, the trekking and zipping was more than enough to entertain us. Flying across a gorge suspended hundreds of metres in the air on a kilometer long cable is an amazing experience. Zip wire is well and truly the highest form of travel.