Advice please!

28 Oct 2013 09:13 - 28 Oct 2013 20:59 #1446 by john floth
john floth created the topic: Advice please!
Dear all

I am travelling to Bangkok in early November I have around 2 days to visit a National park in the area. I was wondering… as Kui Bui and Keag KrachaN are closed until November I do Not think I want to risk going there and it Being closed longer than expected, therefore Khao Yai is my best option ? My realistic aim is to see at least wild Asian elephants and gibbons (of any kind) before I leave Thailand. I would like to rent a car to drive around in the national park, on day and night drives if possible. Could anybody recommend me a place where this is best possible?
Ay help is much appreciated!

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28 Oct 2013 15:26 - 28 Oct 2013 17:02 #1447 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: advice please!
Open in Nov - All 3 (KY, KB, KK)
Accessible by car - KY is most accessible by car. Having been in KK this closed season already, I can share that the road is now quite rough and there have been a lot of landslides, esp during rain of last few of weeks. Getting to Panontheung was NOT possible unless you have a pick-up at least. Indeed just a couple of weeks ago you needed a 4x4 style car (i.e. high clearance) just to get through one of the streams before km 18. The concrete ford over the stream in Bang Krang Camp had also disappeared one night in a storm.
Want to see Gibbons and Elephants - KY and KB
Night drive - KY

I would think KY suits your needs best but there are others on the forum who have a much better knowledge of KY than me and I sure they can help you more.

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29 Oct 2013 02:33 #1452 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
I would guess that Khao Yai is your best bet. My homebase, ;).
I haven't been to Kui Buri, and hear that's the best place to see wild elephants, people say it's pretty much guaranteed. Khao Yai you need more luck, but still if you keep trying...

Gibbons are not too difficult, though I guess if you don't know the area it can be hard. Depending on how much they're calling.
From the first viewpoint till the visitor centre (Pak Chong side, which is the better side for gibbons) your chances are good. Behind the parking of the first viewpoint you might be lucky to spot a mixed family of both White-handed and Pileated gibbon, but they don't show up too often, you might hear them. When you continue you notice better quality forest around the road and around the cobra crossing sign you need to start looking up. Another good area where they often are close to the road is around the first parking area, which they call Dong Krating (no sign though; few hundred meters past the elephant croosing sign). There is an unofficial trail starting on the side of the car park usually a gibbon family hangs around there.
Next good spot is the km33 trail. You could follow the official trail, or even better explore the many trails around there but very easily you'll loose orientation. Certainly don't try without compass and preferably GPS. Most guided day tours spend there time here, for a good reason. Several family groups live around there, and there are some beautiful large fig trees. There are more good trails.
Pileated Gibbon, try the road to the Pha Dieow Die viewpoint, both before, around, and just after the grassland; listen for the bubble/ trilling calls which are Pileated Gibbons. After 15:00 it will be hard to find gibbons, but that's when you can switch to elephant searching.

The late afternoons tend to be best, though I've seen them appearing at any time of day, even the 'hottest' hours. Seeing an elephant while hiking is rare. So drive the road that leads to Haew Narok. You'll see the tour companies do the same after 16:00, and again for a good reason. Especially the area around the two salt licks is interesting.
Basically you can be lucky all around the park. The last 3 or 4 days a herd of 9 has been hangin around the two saltlicks near the road close to the Nong Pak Chi watchtower parking area.
At the watchtower itself I haven't been too lucky, I've seen them there but I think the Southern road is best. Anyway they could come out anywhere anytime. You could try to chat a bit with some rangers if they have seen any recently or even that day. And if you're interested you can ask them if there have been any sambar kills by Dholes recently. It's worth checking.

If you go with a local guide you're pretty much guaranteed to find gibbon and increase chances to see elephant as they are in touch with other guides and park rangers and usually hear from each other as soon as an elephant has come out to any accessible area. However finding it on your own, is more fun, at least that's my opinion.

The nightsafari can be great, even though you're rarely the only one on the road. Take the 500baht private option. Don't get tempted by the 50 baht large trucks.
Good chance to see Small Indian Civet, Asian Palm Civet, Malayan Porcupine, lots of deer, and possibly more like Slow Loris, Buffy Fish Owl, Small-toothed Palm Civet, Dholes, Elephants, Pythons. You need luck to get a driver that is willing to take the time, and hopefully the person operating the spotlight is not too lazy and knows where to look. Though, in general if you ask, they are happy to let you operate the spotlight yourself.
Even though it's not perfect I think it's still fun to do. Some people believe you bother the animals too much with spotlighting, but I've seen the same specimens return day after day to the same areas, no matter how many night safari trucks have passed, and I don't believe it does much harm, certainly not more than you do by entering the forest during daytime.

Enjoy your stay, no matter which park you choose. Don't expect too much, it's not easy to spot large mammals. Even harder when you don't have much experience/ don't know the area.

If you have more questions, just ask...

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29 Oct 2013 23:27 #1455 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!
Thank you so much for your help and advice, I cant wait to get out there! I just have a couple more questions. Is it worth getting up very early e.g 6am and driving around, or is the main animal activity throughout the day? Where would be the best place to travel to ( I am travelling By Bus from BK) SaraBuri? And where would be the most ideal tow to stay if I where to go for 2 days, from where I could get to the park headquarters or guides?
Thank you for taking the time to help me I appreciate it a lot!

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30 Oct 2013 08:12 #1456 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
Starting at 6:00AM can be great especially because there will be little other traffic.
It's definitely good for birding, but for most mammals (certainly for gibbons & elephants) it seems like chances are good throughout the day.
The forest cover and elevation in Khao Yai prevents it from getting hot during the day, so unlike the open savannas in e.g. Africa, animals are less restricted to very early and or late afternoon.

I'm never good at waking up early, even though the mornings are beautiful in these parks. I should learn to get to bed earlier and wake up with the sun... ;)

It's best to travel to Pak Chong if you travel by public transport. At Rimtarninn hotel in Pak Chong town is a car rental branche. From Rimtarninn you need to follow the road a little back in the direction of Bangkok and then follow the sign Khao Yai to turn onto Thanarad road (2090).Just keep following this road and you'll get to the park gate (30min drive).

I would recommend to look for a hotel near the park, or camp (the park rens out all neccessary gear expect a total of 350 - 400 baht for tent, sleeping bag, mat, and pillow + camping fee)/ take a cabin (if available) inside the park. It's hard to find decent budget options near the park. The cheaper guesthouses are a bit closer to Pak Chong town and therefore further away from the park.

The visitor/ information centre is 14km from the park entrance. There you can ask for a park ranger though most don't speak English; they know the trails and some might do their best to spot wildlife. In my opinion most local guides of local tour businesses are better at spotting animals and most speak good English, but that would require booking a tour with any of the companies in the area easily found on google or in guide books.
If I travel to a new area I prefer to go on my own, even though I'm well aware that I would see more with a good local guide. Spotting the animals yourself is more fun in my opinion, but it depends a bit if you have good eyes to actually discover something.

Good luck!

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30 Oct 2013 18:10 #1459 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!
Thanks for the tips man, you really made my life easier!, I like getting surprised too that’s why im going to rent a car for a day see what I can find. if im unsuccessful il try and get a guide the second day hehe. You are so right! that Going into a place you have never ventured to before ad seeing the unexpected is always awesome, Its funny you should say that because I went for a little hike along the river at doi pha hom pok National park today, an area ive ever Been to and saw 3 different species of snake in under 2 hours, was expecting to see maybe 1 with some luck!

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01 Nov 2013 17:54 #1460 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: advice please!
Don't forget to tell us what you see John. Good luck!

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06 Nov 2013 14:09 #1463 by Bagheera
Bagheera replied the topic: advice please!
Good Luck with your visit, some friends of mine based near KK have reported seeing Yellow throated martens regularly at Panern Tung summit. These have to be some of the cutest animals around and I for one would love to get some decent photos of them!!

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11 Nov 2013 13:13 #1475 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!
Hello all

had a great time in the park , took me a whie to find somewhere to rent a bike but i got there in the end. stayed at the greenleaf guest house which i STRONGLY recommend.. there tours are really great and guides very enthusiastic. Managed to see 2 million bats leaving a cave with them which was one of the most incredable experiances ive ever had.I did some hiking on my own for the other days managed to see atleest one snake every day there! saw 2 oriental whip snakes ( with a freshly caught lizard) a white lipped pit viper, a red bellied kheelback, a tarantula, many awsome insects )giant millipedes and centipedes), a gliding gecko (really amazing looking), muntjacs, macaques, big monitor lizards and many sambar. Was lucky to see 3 white handed gibbons right by the visitor center. many of the animals seem extremly unshy of people especially on the car parks but i guess thats a good sighn nobody is poaching.I did some early morning drives and some night drives on my own, saw 2 civets.. too quick to fotograph not sure wat kind. 3 porcupines and atleest 80 sambar on the night drives, the early morning drives produced absolutly nothing. In all my hikes and drives I didnt see any elephants or gaur and as my aim was to see atleest elephants and gibbons i was bent on finding one, so at last light at like 6.00 pm i went to the nong pak chi tower as I saw some dung there on a hike and I was sure something would come out... i just had that feeling. so I walked down the trail there and saw two hornbills flying right over my head which was a really good start to my evening of desperatly finding an elephant. I got to the tower and there where soe rangers there saying they hadnt seen anything but id walked all the way there so decided to wait until dark, I was totally alone in the tower and after 5 minutes i saw movement on the hill oposite the lake about 800 meters from the tower, as a lone bull elephant walked across the field and into the forest, i could only see it through binoculars and manage to get one foto of it before it disappeared. I was so happy to see one though i was cheering in the tower alone in the dark but i didnt care.
I really liked khao yai especially because of the peoples positive attitude towards it all, something i wasnt used to from thai people id met before.
Im a happy guy!

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11 Nov 2013 18:18 #1476 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: advice please!
Fantastic!

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11 Nov 2013 21:31 #1477 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
Great to hear you succeeded in your 'mission'!

The bats' daily feeding-migration is indeed amazing and something everybody should witness. Were you lucky that they came out early enough to enjoy it for a while? They've been coming out quite late, lately and it gets dark early so can't enjoy it too long. An hour or longer of a non-stop flowing river of bats is simply crazy, not to mention the tons of insects they must eat every day.

Indeed many animals in the park are not shy at all, they see lots of people and have learned these people don't harm them. Most gibbon families that have their territories near the roads/ main trails are not too skittish.
It's quite different as soon as you get on trails where no tourists go. Not sure if that's because of hunting, or just because they have 'never' seen people before.
It's funny that many people always want to go as far from the tourist trails, but it makes wildlife watching often only harder.
Poaching is still a problem in the park, but at least the hunting is not taking place near the tourist areas; though, the signs of poaching for valuable wood can be found anywhere, sometimes just a couple of metres off the paved main road.

About the civets, did you see them on the ground or in trees? If they were rather small, bit like a house cat, perhaps a bit longer, slightly shorter legs, with a ringed tail it's the Small Indian Civet (commonly seen in the short grass areas throughout the park). These are terrestial. If they were more like a fox-size, quite high on the legs, and with a ringed tail it's most likely Large Indian Civet (which is quite uncommon to see; I can't recall seeing one this year).
If the tail was not ringed, a greyish body, and with a black mask (raccoon-like) it's most likely Asian Palm Civet.
The Masked Palm Civet I have rarely seen in Khao Yai. If they were brownish with a dark tail it's Small-toothed Palm Civet.
Asian Palm Civets and Small Indian Civets are definitely the most common and easily seen species in Khao Yai.

Gaur is hard. Though in the right time of year (March - May) they occasionally show up even seen from the Nong Pak Chi tower in the grass behind the reservoir, mostly to the far left. This time of year it's hard to see them. Not sure if the guard stations at the Northern - Northeastern border of the park are good this time of year, I rarely go there.

It's indeed good to see Thais enjoying the nature. It's not always exactly like foreigners would experience nature, but still way better than that they would not care at all. Only if the Thais love and enjoy it, it will be preserved. These parks can't survive on the relatively low foreign tourist numbers.
It can get really crowded, but if you look at the map of the whole park you'll see that the main tourist area is quite small and there is lots of nature left where rarely anybody goes (well, the poachers might...).

And good to hear you found some cool snakes! Which color morphs were the whip snakes? Gold-orange, silver-grey, or brownish? I love those snakes. And lucky you got to see it with prey!
They love the roadsides with rather dense bushes. Especially in the mornings and late afternoons they tend to be a bit more visible to bask.
Do you have pictures of the pit viper? It's more common to see Vogel's Pit Viper in the park.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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25 Nov 2013 19:04 - 26 Nov 2013 05:59 #1502 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!
Hello Hello!

If you think the illegal activities at khao yai are significant, my advice is.... do not go to the north of Thailand’s national parks, I go hiking I doi pha hom phok national park or chiang dao almost every week amd I have never foumd a single wild mammal there, just squirrels at chiang dao amd muntjac tracks. Even In the last 4 months I have worked here I have seen deforestation happening within the national park and random guys walking around with hunting rifles on an almost daily basis. There are hilltribes everywhere up here and they seem to do what they want with the land. I cant help think “what will this park look like 20 years from now”, at the moment it seems pretty lawless. It is not only the hill tribes that do the poaching round here, I know plenty of Thais that go hunting around here and they get hares birds and squirrels regularly, one told me he used to hunt bears at the park but he has not seen one In years (what a surprise...).
Here are my favourite pics I took while I was at khao yai , according to my guide it was a white lipped pit viper. And yes I got to see the bats leaving the cave for at least 40 minutes! Thank you for the help with the civet ID, my sightings where so short, I really couldnt tell you!
Im still unsure of what type of kheelback it was in the photo, help much appreciated!
Hope you like them!

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02 Dec 2013 21:32 #1510 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
Hi John,

Maybe something went wrong with uploading your images, I couldn't find them. Interested to see the Keelback, hopefully I can help.

Agree with you the North is definitely worse than Khao Yai in terms of poaching. At least from what I've seen, or actually more from what I did not see ;).
In Khao Yai most signs I've seen are the valuable wood poaching, I've found several old camps, and once spooked two guys while I approached them from their backs without them expecting me; I was not expecting them either...
But there are lots of parks that have bigger problems. I guess Huai Kha Khaang has serious trouble at the moment, having the healthiest tiger population of the country comes at a cost...
But the rangers there don't seem to give up the fight!

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09 Dec 2013 09:17 #1526 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!













Sorry “on flipflops” my Wi-Fi is terrible at the moment and it must have sent the messages before loading the pictures, hopefully they are attached to this message. Like I mentioned these are I my opinion the best images from my trip and the kheelBack is just there as I need some ID help. I have a few days free again at the end of this month and was wondering where I could go do some more nature watching. As I have already see khao Yai I would like to maybe try KeaNg KrachaN or Pang sida national park. Could anybody help me as to which park is easier to access from Bangkok with public transport? I will probably look for a tour into the park as a guide did help me find most of the snakes I saw at khao yai and I really enjoy finding new snakes I have not seen before. I will only have a day there at most so any advice onto which park is more worth seeing and has easy access to booking tours please let me know! Thank you

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09 Dec 2013 12:31 #1527 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
Hi John,

Thanks for sharing the pictures! Cool to see the vine snake eating the dragon.

That same Keelback species has always kept me busy.
I think it is the Speckle-bellied Keelback (juvenile), however I'm not 100% sure. I've never found information about the white eyebrows in any book. Just sent a question to an enthusiastic Thai herper that might be able to confirm it.

If you do a google images search you will see some pictures that are the same, but in some pictures they look different, maybe adults or different subspecies or just individual differences.

About your other questions.
Both Kaeng Krachan and Pangsida are a bit difficult to get to by public transport, and when you get there you definitely need a vehicle.
And from what I know unlike Khao Yai it's hard to find a guided tour, other than perhaps birding tours in Kaeng Krachan.
In Pangsida I'm quite sure you won't find any tour.
But also in Kaeng Krachan I have yet to find an operator focussing on wildlife or reptiles instead of birds. We're thinking of changing that ;), but haven't had the time to further explore the park.

Since snakes are your main interest, night activities are the best, though not sure how it is in KK or PS, but here in KY it starts to get cold. It can drop to 13 - 14 degrees Celsius at night which is not exactly favorite snake weather. Though Pythons tend to be active in the winter. Just last week a 2.5M Burm crossed the road while I was driving home. And the mornings will be good when the sun comes out after the cold night.

When I did a night drive in Kaeng Krachan the rangers pulled me off the road, so that's not really an option. A walk around the camp ground seemed to be fine. Though I've only tried that once, I remember not seeing any snakes though, but some other cool stuff.
In Pangsida I did some night drives and nobody seemed to care. Successful with mammals (Gaur, Binturong, Leopard Cat) and got to see 2 species of Cat Snake.

There are some interesting roads just outside Kaeng Krachan which produced a few snakes for me.
But I'm sure the roads just outside Pangsida are good too, but I have yet to tried it.

We looking forward to read your trip report here.

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19 Dec 2013 15:57 #1536 by john floth
john floth replied the topic: advice please!
Hello again

I went to Keang Krachan in the end as it seemed easier to access (wasnt that easy to find my way around) i saw some long tailed macaques, white handed gibbons, dusky langurs, wild jungle fowl and many other birds (not really my interest) chipmonks and squirrels, one giant squirrel and much eveidence of elephants,deer and civets. I camped by the dam which turned out not to be such a good place to find much i should have stayed at the bankrang camp but didnt have enought time. I looked HARD for snakes only found one keelback which i believe was a green keelback but it was really fast and for obvious reasons i dont like grabbing snakes if they seem agitated and im not sure wat kind they are .
all in all looks like a hidden gem, lots of jungle not many tourists ...Nice!

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20 Dec 2013 00:22 #1539 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: advice please!
Did you have your own transport or did you find a guided tour?

I've stayed at that camp ground near the lake, but I agree staying really inside the park is better.
Though for snakes it might not all be that bad, as long as the weather is good.

It's been very quiet here, in regards of snake sightings.
Not sure how cold it gets in Kaeng Krachan, but in Khao Yai it's been pretty cold. Early evening temperatures dropping to 12 - 13 degrees. And going as low as 9 degrees Celsius in the very early mornings.
Snakes don't like that. And even though the sun warms things up during the day, I'm not sure if the snakes even bother to come out of their hide-outs.

Can't wait till temperatures start to rise again.

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