Saturday, 24 October 2009

This has to be Suratthani's top destination...after Samui

While I knew of Khao Sok National Park in mainland Suratthani I didn't know anything about the park until I started to search for a website that I could link for Suratthani attractions in the previous post.

I didn't know it has an area of 740 km.sq, nor did I imagine it to be the oldest virgin rainforest on the planet, older and more diverse even than the Amazon rainforest.

The richness of the tropical forest flora, the abundance of fresh water and the shelter of the mountains combine to provide an excellent habitat for many species of wildlife. Mammals that call the place home include, the Malayan Tapir, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Sambar and Barking Deer, Sun Bear, Guar, Banteng, Serow, Wild Boar, Pig Tailed Macaque, Langur, Sumatra Rhino, White Handed Gibbon, Squirrel, Munjak and Mouse Deer.

The forest is dense and dominated by tall emergent trees; the middle layer is a tangle of figs and woody climbers, whilst the understorey contains evergreens such as bamboo, rattan, ferns and palms, all fighting for light. It is also home to many varieties of orchid and for flora-spotting botonistas, the park is one of only a handful of locations in Thailand and Malaysia where grows the world's largest flower, the parasitic and stinky Rafflesia kerrii, with it's rotten-meat stench (to attract pollinating flies) and giant 50-90cm diameter red flowers.

Twitchers are well served with over 180 species of birds. Khao Sok is just about the only place in Thailand to see both Lesser and Grey-headed Fish Eagle. The Banded Pitta is a fabulously beautiful species which appears far more common in the park than anywhere else. Hornbills can be found with Great, Helmeted and White-crowned the most frequently seen.

Divers (tech), kayakers/canoeists, fishermen, climbers and cavers all seem to be well catered for.

It appears that Khao Sok National Park is one of the easiest national parks to get to in Thailand. It's frequently visited by tourists from the southern beach resorts and many places from Khao Lak, Krabi and Phuket run minibuses to the accommodation just outside the park. Samui based trippers must first take the ferry and bus to mainland Surattani. If you choose to drive, simply follow highway route number 401, which is also known as the Suratthani-Takuapa road. Turn right at the 109 kilometer stone and drive for another 2 km. or until you see the park’s headquarters.

From Suratthani take a minibus to Khao Sok or any bus to Takua Pa can also be taken; the buses will stop at Km 109 where people from various bungalow resorts at Khao Sok wait to collect visitors. From the main road to the accommodation is a few kilometres so it is best to take a ride with one of the bungalow operators. A visit here, from where I copied some photos, looks to be a worthy choice.

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