Visit national parks in August

6 days 20 hours ago #4921 by Philippe
Hello everyone,
First of all I want to apologize for my very rough English, which is a rough mix of school memories and google translation.

Father of a family of three boys (10, 12 and 17 years) all naturalists passionate about wildlife, I try for several months to organize a holiday in Thailand to visit the main parks and reserves of the country.

I admit that I have a lot of trouble to identify the correct information of the fake and therefore I am currently blocked to organize my stay.
That's why I appeal to you and your knowledge of Thailand and its parks.

So we leave, my wife and I with our three boys from July 26 to August 29, 2018. We would like to visit and discover in priority 5 parks and reserves of the country:
1) Huai Kha Khaeng WS
2) Kaeng Krachan NP
3) Kuiburi NP
4) Khao Sok NP
5) Khao Yai NP and Pang Sida NP and Thap Lan NP

By inquiring at www.thainationalparks.com (which is actually a site of a private travel agency), I was told that the tours for Huai Kha Kaeng, Kaeng Krachan and Kuiburi existed for several months for lack of guide.
Therefore I want to visit these parks independently, without going through a travel agency. My kids are used to the wilderness and have the experience of hiking and safari car.
But in order to organize myself I have several questions to ask you about each park.

Knowing that we have identified several species that we would like to see first: Gaur, Banteng, Dhole, Tapir, Leopard and nebulous panther.

For Huai Kha Khaeng who is our main target: is it possible to visit this park in August? Are there any accommodations near the entrance or in the park (Park Bungalow)? What is the best way to visit the park: by car or on foot? Can we go to the observatories, is this park really worth seeing to see Bantengs knowing that only a small part of the area is open to tourists?

For Kaeng Krachan: is the park closed in August? If so, is it possible to visit it between July 28th and 31st? Should you rent a car to visit the park? the 4x4 car or classic? What is the best way to visit the park and see wildlife, on foot or by car? I know there are bungalows in the park campground and even some accommodations near the entrance.

For Kuiburi, we would like to spend an afternoon in the park to see elephants and gaurs in the observation tower. Is it possible to do it independently? Is the park open in August? Again we have to have a car to go to the park?

For Khao sok and Klong Saeng, it seems that the best way to visit is to rent bingalows on the lake. But unfortunately it's too expensive for our budget. So we will just trek within the park. There is a lot of housing. Can we access the park without a guide and go hiking?

For Khao Yai, Pang Sida and Thap Lan, we would like to rent a car to do the three parks and go observe the wildlife in the observation towers. Can we drive in these parks, go hiking without a guide? Can you recommend the observation posts to try to see gaurs and dholes.

I know that I ask for a lot of answers, but every help will be welcome knowing that this trip is a lot for my children and for my wife and me.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Best regards.
Philippe

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
6 days 12 hours ago #4922 by onflipflops
A few notes:
Your species target list is interesting, but I hope you understand several are close to impossible.
Gaur: good chance at Khao Phaeng Ma (North of Khao Yai), Kui Buri, and maybe Klong Saeng along the lake
Banteng: good chance in Huai Kha Khaeng. The observation towers in the open visitor area offer a good chance.
Dhole: Not easy, but best chance is in Khao Yai; best to visit many of the waterbodies and grasslands and pray to be lucky. Going with a guide improves the chances because they might hear about recent Sambar kills...
Tapir: extremely hard. I have heard of a couple sightings at Klong Saeng along the lake shores, but likely to be close to impossible.
Leopard: Difficult. Best chance is at Huai Kha Khaeng and Kaeng Krachan; Though despite MANY visits I have only seen them a couple times.
Clouded Leopard: Impossible! Almost everybody I know (people living in Thailand) who have spent extensive time in the parks have never seen this species. Personally I have been extremely lucky, but you can really forget about this species. Better to try for Bornean Clouded Leopard in Deramakot Forest Reserve in Borneo. Not the same species, but pretty close and seems like the authorities allow the local tour businesses to do extensive night drives on which they are seen relatively 'often' for Southeast-Asian-wild-cat-sighting-standards

Only Kaeng Krachan national park is closed in August - October. The other parks are open year round.

Huai Kha Khaeng:
A car is necessary to get in. Officially you need a ranger to visit the watching towers. You can ask for a ranger at the visitor centre/ head quarters.
Camping inside the park is not allowed, so only option is to stay at a resort outside the park. There is one small 'resort' option just 2kms before the park entrance.

Kaeng Krachan:
A 4x4 car is recommended if you wish to visit the higher elevation. If you wish to see Leopard, even though chances are very slim, best to drive the road between the two camp grounds.
There are no park bungalows inside the main part of the park. Camping will be your only option. Or staying in a resort outside the park and drive in and out each day. Car is best if your focus is on mammals. Anyway you ether need to drive a rental car, or ask for a local vehicle with driver to get in.

Kui Buri:
It is not allowed to enter the elephant watching area with your own (rental) vehicle/ and not on foot. But at the park gate you can book a local vehicle with driver and assistant that will drive you in and out. High chance for elephants, and quite a good chance for Gaur. But you will need a car (or rent a taxi) to get to the park gate where you can book the above mentioned service. There is no public transport to the park gate.

Khao sok & Klong saeng:
I have to admit last time I stayed at the lake was about 10 years ago. But back then there were floating huts for 300 baht per night. Very basic, but well for that price you can not expect much ;-)
Though you need to rent a long-tail boat. I guess to get to Klong Saeng area a good guide would likely be useful. I have never been there, but seen images of gaur grazing at the lake shore.

Khao Yai, Pang Sida and Thap Lan:
Khao Yai is possible to hike by yourself, though be careful when doing this. It is quite common that people get lost. A guide would definitely be recommend when hiking in any of the parks in Thailand.
For your target species I guess hiking is not your best option. Even though I have seen Dholes a few times from the NOng Pak Chi watching tower, I do not consider it the best spot for that species, I have seen it more often in other areas. But in the end it all depends on your luck. Dholes need large territories so it is hard to know where they are.
Gaur sightings are quite rare inside the park. Better to visit Khao Paeng Ma, a non-hunting reserve Northeast of Khao Yai.
I have not tried the watch tower in Pangsida, not sure how successful that is. I would certainly not recommend hiking in Pangsida without a ranger. As on a few of my own hikes I have encountered recent signs of illegal rosewood logging, closer to the road than you'd expect, and you do not want to risk your own and your family's life with the potential of encountering a gang of illegal loggers...
I think for Thap Lan the same might apply, though I have no personal experience there.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
6 days 8 hours ago - 6 days 8 hours ago #4923 by Paul T
To add something to that great set of recommendations by OnFlipFlops ..... namely Pang Sida and Thap Lan as I have quite a bit of knowledge of those....

OnFlipFlops wrote: A few notes:

I have not tried the watch tower in Pangsida, not sure how successful that is. I would certainly not recommend hiking in Pangsida without a ranger. As on a few of my own hikes I have encountered recent signs of illegal rosewood logging, closer to the road than you'd expect, and you do not want to risk your own and your family's life with the potential of encountering a gang of illegal loggers...
I think for Thap Lan the same might apply, though I have no personal experience there.


Pang Sida watchtower for gaur ...... nowhere near as good, in terms of gaur sightings, than Khao Paeng Ma or Khlong Pa Gang (both in Khao Yai). For the Pang Sida watchtower the weather has to be just right (a cloudy and cool day) to have any chance to see them in daylight - out of 20 or 30 visits I saw gaur once.

Thap Lan - access is now largely closed due to the ongoing operations against poaching/logging. The waterfall areas north and south of the HQ are open - but not somewhere I would recommend anyone to go out of their way to visit.

Hope this helps.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Time to create page: 0.133 seconds