Khao Yai National Park – This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a large variety of mammals, birds and reptiles. It’s a huge mountainous park and difficult to access without a car so we joined a tour, and were glad we did. We were able to see a lot more with a guide than if we went ourselves. We saw many beautiful, colourful birds including kingfishers and hornbills. They have 3 types of deer, one as small as a house cat, but we only saw the larger two. We saw the largest squirrel in the world, which is also the size of a house cat. They also have squirrels that change colour with the seasons. We were here in the winter, so we saw a few white squirrels.
There are many spiders in the park, and some are very strange looking. There were small cicadas that we had to see through a telescope even though it was close. The guide pointed out a water monitor lizard that blended into the rock so well we wouldn’t have noticed it.
We went for a 3-hour hike and saw a crocodile on the other side of the river. Our guide assured us that no one has been attacked by a crocodile in at least 3 years. We saw many elephant foot prints, and mud on the trees that they left as they brushed past, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any elephants. They have 2 types of gibbons in the park. We heard them calling to each other, but they are very shy and stayed away.
There are many waterfalls in the park. The Haew Narok, is the highest waterfall in Thailand with a height of 80m. The walk to see the waterfall takes you to the top of the falls. There are huge pillars blocking the path to stop elephants from entering the area. Unfortunately, there have been a few cases where elephants got through and fell down the waterfall. At the end of the path is a long steep stairway leading to a nice view of the falls.
The Haew Suwat Waterfall is famous for a scene in the movie ‘The Beach’. Leonardo DeCaprio ‘jumps off’ the top of the waterfall in the movie.
There are a few caves outside of the park. One cave is often used as a meditation spot for the local monks. It’s a deep cave with very few openings so is very dark. The guide had us turn off our flashlights to see how dark it is for the monks when meditating. Without flashlights we were in complete darkness. There was no difference between our eyes being open or closed.
Each night at dusk 2 million Wrinkled Bats fly out of Khao Luk Chang Cave. They come out in a long stream and swirl around to avoid the bat hawks. A few times the swarm came right over our heads and we could hear their wings flapping. It was really impressive. You can see the video on the side bar of this blog or click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb43ocgjQ2A .
Nam Pha Pa Yai – Since we weren’t able to climb in Chiang Mai due to the rain, we were keen to climb at Nam Pha Pa Yai. We stayed at a camp run by local climber Joy. The main climbing area is a steep limestone wall on the Pasak river. The setting is beautiful. The climbs had really solid, well defined holds, but were quite polished and slippery. To access the climbs, you have to zip-line across the river, which was really fun. The zip-lining video is on the side bar of this blog or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NLepxWgurM
The second climbing area is at a small bat cave, a 5-minute walk from the camp. The climbs here have sharp edges with many different runnels and pockets. It was great to be climbing again.
You can also kayak on the Pasak river, we went for have a day. It’s a lazy river with trees and bushes coming right to its banks. It’s quite remote, with little traffic, but plenty of beautifully coloured birds. It’s a great way to spend a morning.
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