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Advice please!

28 Oct 2013 09:13 - 28 Oct 2013 20:59 #1446 by john floth
Advice please! was created by john floth
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 T
Replied by Paul T on 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
Replied by onflipflops on 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
Replied by john floth on 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
Replied by onflipflops on 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
Replied by john floth on 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 T
Replied by Paul T on 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
Replied by Bagheera on 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
Replied by john floth on 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 T
Replied by Paul T on topic Advice please!
Fantastic!

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"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." > Edward O. Wilson

"An understanding of the Natural World and whats in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment." > Sir David Attenborough

“Climb up on some hill at sunrise.  Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.” > Robb Sagendorph