The rainforests of Chonburi may easily be one of the area’s best-kept secrets. A mere 1.5-hour drive from Bangkok, or one hour from Pattaya, these lush ancient forests teem with life. Giant squirrels, deer, macaques, hornbills, elusive gibbons and many other species reside in the area. And visitors can experience the beauty of this ecosystem with Flight of the Gibbon, Thailand’s leading eco-adventure tour operator.
“The bustle of Bangkok feels much more than an hour away out here,” explains Ian Leonard, Regional Manager, Flight of the Gibbon. “In Chonburi, we offer a great day trip that includes 2.5 hours of ziplining over the rainforest, part of a beautiful wildlife sanctuary; a tour of the nearby Khao Kheow Open Zoo; and lunch at a restaurant overlooking a lake.”
Anyone over one metre in height with reasonably good health can participate, making this unique activity ideal for families. At Flight of the Gibbon, safety is paramount. Courses were designed and engineered by international experts. The equipment includes triple-bolted construction that keeps each line functioning independently, the structurally safest method. At the same time, the design is undisruptive for the trees.
Every participant also receives a safety briefing and is personally outfitted in the proper gear by highly trained Sky Rangers. Behind the scenes, safety managers follow strict protocols for safety and maintenance. “Since we began in 2007, we’ve flown hundreds of thousands of people on our ziplines, and we always strive for 100% safety.”
For those not keen on ziplines and/or accompanied by younger children, the company offers an alternative adventure called Go Gibbon, a jungle obstacle course comprised of 19 action-packed stations with Tarzan jumps, flying swings, spider nets, bridges and more. “Again, we take safety very seriously, with top-of-the-line equipment, strict standards and professional guides on hand to ensure safe play for all ages and abilities,” says Ian.
In addition, environment and education are of high importance, reflecting the company’s belief in making positive ecological change in the world. The idea for Flight of the Gibbon was originally sparked by its founders’ efforts to rescue and rehabilitate a pair of gibbons that were abandoned in a cage near a roadside in Chiang Mai.
Today, the firm invests 10 percent of their profits in primate rehabilitation, reforestation and ecological education programs at all three of their locations: Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The gibbons that inspired the business, Tong Lorde and Tong Dee, were rehabilitated alongside the ziplines in Chiang Mai, a site that resembles their natural habitat. Two offspring born in the wild have since joined the family. In 2013, Flight of the Gibbon also helped provide some funding to Wildlife Alliance in order to reintroduce gibbons to Angkor Archaeological Park, the first program of its kind in Cambodia. Happily, a new and healthy baby was born in late 2014.
Other initiatives include annual reforestation or forest restoration projects in Chiang Mai and Siem Reap. More recently, a project to reintroduce both the Great Hornbill and Oriental Pied Hornbill, extinct from Northern Thailand for over 30 years, is underway. “Learn more about our conservation efforts to preserve and grow local ecological systems,” says Ian. “For Bangkok residents, Chonburi is just a short drive away. And come get a exhilarating rainforest experience, immersing yourself in nature’s unique sights and sounds as you safely soar among the tree tops.”
For more information, please visit www.TreeTopAsia.com.