Tree Top Explorer and Jungle Hotel Paksong
An Unforgettable Adventure in an unparalleled
South-east Asian Mountain Forest Setting
The Tree Top Explorer, a new jungle adventure in the mountains of Champassak province is blending fun with real nature experience. Officially opened early 2011, it quickly has become a must-go destination, with an enthusiastic feed back from visitors exceeding even most optimistic expectations. The project delivers its promises of being something hilariously exciting – and strictly adhering to international safety standards, without any compromise!
Supported by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN, Netherlands) for its environment friendly approach and the involvement of local communities, the project also aims to give a boost to Laos' tourism diversification. The cooperation with the local communities and the protection of wildlife remains a foremost concern.
The venue can only be reached by foot on a trek through coffee plantations and lush forest. No cars, no noise, no fumes! Main attraction is a system of zip-lines traversing steep gorges in touching distance to the waterfalls. A 'via ferrata' teases out the adventurous spirits of the visitor in a challenge to the limits of some. All is safe, however, with no part not being manageable by almost everyone, even the most fearful. The canopy walkway gives the visitor the chance to see the forest from a completely different and usually elusive angle.
Take the chance having great fun in a simply stunning environment. Be invited to see and experience the difference!
The Jungle Hotel Paksong
Located inside a valley basin of the Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area, the JungleHotel Paksong is actually a tiny village in the midst of dense forest and surrounded by sky-reaching cliffs with thundering waterfalls. It comprises six tree houses, a restaurant and some service facilities.
The Tree Houses
The tree houses are simply romantic and privacy is guaranteed! These single-room huts, wholly made of indigenous materials high in the crowns of the trees, will give you the feel of being transferred into another world, completely unified with nature. Some of the houses are up to more than 20 m above the ground. Beds, mosquito nets, everything is there for a smooth night. No air-con or fridge, however, but your own toilet! Get up with a hot early morning tea shaker (from a thermos) before you zip – the only way to get in or out - to the restaurant to enjoy a hot or cold shower and usher the dawning day with a hearty breakfast in the jungle.
Since the construction materials used for the houses are natural but inflammable (wood, grass roofs), the use of candles is strictly prohibited.
Don't abdicate your every morning shaving! Thanks to our state-of-the-art power generating system which taps its energy from the waterfall, electricity in the camp is guaranteed - absolutely environment friendly and clean, without fumes and noise!
In case of technical failure, conventional generators temporarily back up the main system.
Construction and Safety
Safety and environment friendly construction is our foremost concern! The equipment is brand new and from renowned international suppliers (e.g. Petzl, Camp). The guides are especially trained in the use and supervision of this equipment. A Thai company (Italian Own) specialized on setting up adventure venues all over the region and an untainted safety record was/is in charge of design, the project realization, and regular maintenance checks thereafter. The construction does not harm the environment - no tree had to be felled, and fixing the facilities neither inflicts any major damage to the trees nor does it hinder their further growth.
Expect your own tree-top toilet with the sewerage safely and environment friendly collected and disposed of. The bathroom, however, is for all, down on earth and near the restaurant. Also here, the waste water is filtered and cleaned in special tanks before being released into the forest.
The Park ("Dong Hua Sao")
The Dong Hua Sao mountain range is a major one of the 20 National Protected Areas in Laos. Its area spans over 1,100 sqkm, half of it is truly mountainous with steep to very steep slopes rising to the edge of the Bolaven Plateau at an elevation of up to 1000m and with peaks near the plateau rim up to almost 1 300 m. The other half is lowland with rolling hills and elevations from 100 to 300 m. At the highest elevations occasionally sub-zero temperatures can be expected. Five major streams within the park feature significant stretches of little disturbed riverine habitat. Stunning waterfalls are a 'trademark' of Dong Hua Sao. The Bolaven is believed to be an extinct giant volcano and hard to distinguish as such after millions of year of withering. The fertile volcanic soils are considered to be the best in Laos and in combination with the cooler climate an ideal ground for coffee, tea and vegetables.
Semi-dry evergreen forest is the dominant vegetation of the Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area. However, most of the lowland forest is logged, while the slopes remain in pristine condition. The upland forest is considerably different in species composition, depending on rainfall and duration of dry season. The project supports all efforts to stop illegal logging.
Wildlife and Engagement for the Preservation of Nature
The yellow-cheeked gibbon (Hylobates gabriellae) is present in a globally significant population in the area. Other monkeys, mainly macaques, can frequently be seen near the site and birds are plentiful in the forests. Scientific research in the park has been as of now patchy and much of the flora and fauna waits to be explored and its composition thoroughly described.
Most pressing threats to wildlife in the Protected Area are the conversion of mature forest to coffee plantations associated with road construction and illegal hunting. In order to actively support the preservation of the natural heritage, contacts with organizations like IUCN Laos, WCS, WWF, and the University of Laos have been established to provide them more opportunities for studies on flora and fauna inside the Dong Hua Sao National Park and at the site in particular. The project is also actively involved in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
These gorges are just gorgeous! Fly high crosswise over the ravine, or in almost touching distance to the green roof of the treetops or the roaring water splashing down the falls. The views are stunning and the adrenaline level is reaching for the high - guaranteed.
The Zip-line System
Heart of the project is a system of zip-lines starting from platforms high in the trees. Whizz zig-zag in front of waterfalls cross deep gorges – just (but safely) attached to a cable not wider than a finger and hardly visible. There are short cables to get acquainted to the adventurous feel or into the tree houses. The longest cable is spanning more than 400 meters, with an even longer one envisioned! Gaining considerable speed after leaving the platform and breaking at the other end is nothing else than following the principle of gravity. It is definitely an unrivalled experience to fly along the mighty waterfall in almost touchable distance or over mighty trees.
If this all is not enough to give the visitor a kick, the 'via ferrata', which have to be passed when returning to the village, truly will! Optional 'canyoning' (or 'abseilung') in the waterfall can be offered for the daring and experienced, but is not part of the regular program.
The project gives lots of fun and thrill to everyone regardless of age and gender. Companies wishing to give their staff a well-deserved treat in a completely different environment will find in this project something that is hard to match. Measured on the multiple feedback we got so far, employees will come back to office with lots enjoyable and, more importantly, memorable stories to tell!
Any organization looking for an ideal venue for team building activities should reconsider its ideas of the past. Try the Tree Top Explorer! This project will certainly bring some people to their physical and psychological limits, but they are without any doubt manageable with the help of the friends, colleagues and experienced guides - and initial fears will quickly be overcome and replaced by delight and even pride. Our team can tailor a special program for you and your staff that will be unforgettable and bring your people closer to each other.
The Tree Top Explorer is happy to invite students and researchers from all over the country or even abroad who want to study the upper strata of the forest. The canopy walkway can serve as an ideal platform and entrance to a usually hard-to-reach and pristine ecosystem. The surrounding environs of the National Protected Area are in desperate need for thorough scientific exploration. Gaining deeper understanding of flora and fauna in the area is of mutual interest and benefit for all involved, gives it not only excellent new opportunities for researchers but also more in-depth information that can be passed on to interested visitors, and may ultimately add significant data to the national treasure of science.
Learning and Education
The project is also open for school trips and kids of all ages – not only for fun but also for learning. The Tree Top Explorer therefore encourages school teachers, particularly from the nearby districts and provinces, to make use of the opportunity to give their pupils an unforgettable outdoor classroom experience and raising their awareness of environmental issues in such an extraordinary location.
Protecting our Natural Heritage
With booking the Tree Top Explorer and having the benefit of outstanding enjoyment, the visitor is directly supporting the Dong Hua Sao park management in its overwhelming task to protect the natural resources of this beautiful mountain range from illegal exploitation and save endangered wildlife from indiscriminate hunting.
The active involvement of the villagers turns them into true stakeholders. By being part of the project, they are benefiting not only financially through it. With adequate training they get valuable insights in the importance of wildlife protection and the dangers of habitat encroachment and become protectors/ guardians of the forest.
Close cooperation with the local park authority is essential for a smooth and sustainable operation of the project. Tree Top Explorer supports the forest rangers in their difficult task to protect such a wide mountainous area efficiently through donations of equipment badly in need.
Ban Nongluang is a small farming village not far from 'coffee capital' Paksong and the major tourist spots in Champassak. This village never had a real chance to get its fair share from this tourism flow passing by only a few kilometers away with hardly any visitor arriving here before. With the new zip-line, this has changed dramatically, giving the villagers, women as men, some welcome extra jobs and additional income for their services as guide, guard, laborer, or food provider – and the opportunity to open their own small business such as making and selling handicraft or other local products.
Ban Nongluang is located only 12 km east of Paksong, the coffee capital. The place can easily be reached from Pakse in less than an hour. The road is almost excellent, only the last few kilometer from the main road to the village may be a bit bumpy before getting to the starting point at Ban Nongluang. Reaching the zip-line complex and campsite requires another few kilometer trek on a wonderful trail inside the Dong Hua Sao National Park.
Nam Lik Jungle Fly – a Sister Project
A similar though smaller venue is available in the forests of Nam Lik, just 80 km north of Vientiane.
Tour Packages (2 and 3 days)
Green Discovery offers this adventure in two packages, currently stretching over either 2 or 3 days, respectively. The tours start and end in Pakse.
A Three day tour
We arrive at Ban Nongluang after a 1 hour drive from Pakse, stroll for a while through the village and chat with the people. The village guides who will accompany us for the next three days give important first safety instructions. We then hike through coffee plantations and vegetable gardens until wild semi-evergreen forest gradually takes over. The trail winds down for a while, sometimes quite steeply, passing ravines, beautiful waterfalls and flower-studded plateaus. Along the way, the guides explain the plants traditionally used in the village kitchen or as herbal medicine.
A breath-taking canopy walkway high in the trees and crossing a steep river valley is a first challenge. We pass the huge 'Tiger' waterfall and reach the giant 'Kamet' fall (name of a monkey), where the water plunges more than 100 m down into a relatively narrow, densely forested valley basin with waterfalls apparently everywhere. Here is where the zip-lines start and the real thrill takes its course. Brace yourself for an adventure of a lifetime!
We take our lunch in the wilderness, explore the forest secrets of the area and may take a cooling swim before mastering the unbelievable zip-lines. The cables crisscross the valley in front of the majestic water wall, stunningly high and us perfectly cooled by the spray of the water. Enjoy the sensation of being weightless and truly one with nature. Let your adrenaline rush come to a maximum. It's joy, sheer joy!
After a day of great activity, we finally settle for the night in the wonderful camp with restaurant nearby. For dinner, local food and absolutely delicious barbecues are on the menu. Chatting and recollecting the gorgeous experiences of the day, or just relaxing and dreaming under the stars about the incredible wonders of life, we finally retire into our own tree house almost 10 m above ground. These houses designed in traditional style, made of wood, bamboo, and grass, can only be reached by -- a zip-line. Bathrooms near the restaurant offer hot and cold water. An instant cozy sleep shrouded by the fiddling sound of the forest crickets is guaranteed.
We wake up amidst the warbling, piping, chirping, twittering of the innumerable birds in the dense canopy around us. A simple European-style breakfast prepares us for an easy 30-minute trek through great forest before reaching the first cable. Be ready for extended flights through the jungle with the longest about 400 m as a real highlight. Its speed, its felt infinity, the proximity to the usually invisible upper stratum of the forest is an amazing and unforgettable experience.
A picnic lunch is served in the best of nature. We return to the camp in the later afternoon by passing the 'Red Rock' stream, where we will have time for some rest and swimming before falling asleep in our tree house for another night.
It's a day of more challenges, but also a day of saying 'goodbye'! After breakfast, we slowly trek uphill, passing a section of forest where gigantic trees dominate, obviously not yet spotted by illegal loggers…
Then it gets a bit tough and jaw-dropping when the trail suddenly "ends" at a steep rock wall, only passable on a 'via ferrata', where iron U-bolts are glued into the rock. There's no way of getting around but to overcome this obstacle in order to get to the other side. Don't worry, it's all safe and you are secured by state-of-the-art safety gear. It's not really long either, just thrilling.
Upon reaching the top of the mountain, one of the highest peaks in the area, an open plateau rewards everyone for all the 'hardship' – and for a last time – with stunning views of three waterfalls and vistas over the Mekong deep into neighboring Thailand. We'll take our lunch here before an easy 1½ hour hike back to Ban Nongluang, where a car is waiting to bring us to Pakse.
B Two day tour
The same program as above (3 day tour), but skip Day 2
Transport from Pakse to Ban Nongluang and back, expert guides (English speaking), local village guides, all equipment and gear like harness, helmets etc, food for the two or three days, respectively, incl. a wonderful barbeque gathering in the evening, drinking water.
Excluded are: Insurance and Liability (exclusion of …)
Each visitor is required to have contracted an own valid insurance suitable for this kind of adventure. Participation is solely on ones own risk. The Tree Top Explorer is applying highest international safety standards and using equipment accordingly, the project is not responsible for lack of proper insurance and accidents occurring due reckless behavior or not following the instructions of the project personnel (guides).