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Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs

05 Jul 2019 13:53 - 05 Jul 2019 15:34 #5284 by wvwv
Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs was created by wvwv
Took a bus down to Hua Hin with my bicycle for a couple of days. I'd tried to go to Kui Buri NP last year but it was closed due to flooding whilst I was there. I'm recovering from a groin strain at the moment so I can't run as much as I usually do, so my plan was to cycle from Hua Hin down through Sam Roi Yot and then east to Kui Buri to try and keep fitness levels up/lose a couple of kg...

Not sure if there are any cyclists on this forum but the bike lanes from Hua Hin down the main Phetkasem Road and then along the beaches to Sam Roi Yot are very good. A lot of it is separated from the highway completely but the occasional motorbike uses the lanes as a shortcut.

First afternoon/evening I covered 50km and slept on the beach where Phraya Nakhon Cave is. You have to trek over a headland to get to this beach. You can take a boat too, run by locals, but not after 3pm-ish. Usually I carry a tent around but I was travelling light this time so just had a hammock with mosquito net. I'd been there a couple of times before so didn't bother hiking up to the actual cave but if you've not been before it's worth a visit. Entrance fee for Sam Roi Yot NP is 200 baht but the staff had long since gone home by the time I arrived.

Sam Roi Yot has, from North to South:

Kaeo Cave
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Laem Sala Beach (the beach where the walk to Phraya Nakhon Cave starts from)
Sai Cave
Sam Phraya Beach
Canal/Riverboat Mangrove Tour (extra fee charged)
Khao Daeng Viewpoint
The Marsh area (separated on the west side of the park)

All these locations are checkpointed (your 200 baht ticket covers everything except the boat trips) but the main road linking them all is free access. The caves are all very similar except Phraya Nakhon where the roof has collapsed to form skylights. All of them have a short, steep climb up to reach the entrances. Kaeo Cave goes a long way in. Kaeo is the only one I hadn't already done so I did that this trip:

There are a lot of dusky langurs at this park and if you do all the cave and viewpoint hikes you're very likely to see them. They have orange babies.
I've found them to be more conspicuous only at Angthong Marine Park. This one was near the start of the Khao Daeng walk.

Onwards to Kui Buri National Park and specifically the Wildlife Watching Area (this is how it is signposted). This was a long 4 hours / 53km on the bike uphill and against the wind with some light showers. A good workout but not fun. There were dozens of these pill millipedes - Rhopalomeris carnifex - all across the road at one point, about half dead and half going about their business. I've not seen this colour before, I've only seen the black ones which seem common elsewhere.

The cost of the jeep truck is 850 baht and can fit a maximum of 6 people. It starts at 2pm and lasts for around 3 hours. I shared with a family of 4 adults from Holland. The staff don't really assist in grouping people together, you have to ask yourself. There were about 5 groups/cars on the day I went and that was the middle of low season, so you should find somebody to share with if you don't want to go alone. Fee for this park is 200 baht so I paid 370 all in.

From the park leaflet, this is a (damp) guide to how lucky you need to be to see different animals. I thought each star might represent how many times on average you need to visit to see the animal, but gaur seems too many stars as they are fairly common here (judging by reviews) and the big cats seem too few stars.

The jeep ride takes you along a dirt road past a couple of ponds, salt licks, to a viewpoint across the grasslands and then back again the same way calling at a watchtower. In total we saw about 7 different groups of elephants of varying numbers ranging from 1-10, a large group of gaur from the viewpoint and 2-3 more from the watchtower, hornbills, 3-4 hog deer and one banteng.

The gaur and banteng were all at distance so you would need a decent lens to get good photos. But some of the elephants were within 40 metres and at one point the driver had to put his foot down to get past a herd which was on either side of the road, I think they use their own vehicles so he was probably worried an elephant would sit on his car.

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05 Jul 2019 14:07 - 05 Jul 2019 14:11 #5285 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs

To give you an idea of how far away from the action you are, the furthest grassland area you can see on the picture above is where the gaur and banteng were.

And from the watchtower, there is an elephant to the right of the tree in the centre of the photo, and also a gaur to the left of the same tree, near the forest edge. You can see in some of these photos that it's raining most of the time. Below are the same animals, the best my camera could do.

On the way out, only 300m or so from the visitor centre:

A lot of the pineapple fields near the park have electric fencing to keep the elephants out.

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05 Jul 2019 14:32 - 05 Jul 2019 14:35 #5286 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs
Back towards Sam Roi Yot on the bike with the wind behind me and going downhill I made good progress over the 52km. I strung up the hammock about 8pm at Sam Phraya Beach, again no rangers there at that time but the restaurant looked open. I'd already picked up some snacks from a shophouse near the main road.

Next morning I wanted to check out Thao Ko Sa Forest Park about 30km up the road. This is a tiny park, free entry, but has a beach and nice viewpoint very similar to the Khao Daeng Hike, but a lot shorter. On the way I looked back across where I had just come from. This is Sam Roi Yot Beach, not actually inside the national park. You can see Sam Roi Yot karsts on the horizon.

There was a hoopoe at the trailhead.

View from the top:

Another 20km north and one final stop at Sirinart Rajini Ecocystem Learning Centre which is part of Pranburi Forest Park I think. Free entry. It's basically a very new and well done mangrove walk. When you've done a few mangrove walks in Thailand you think you know what you're going to get but this one had a few surprises in store like a human sized mud crab trap which kids can crawl under and into. Also it's the first one I've found with a tower that actually goes high enough to see properly over the canopy.

Back to Sam Roi Yot

it used to be shrimp farms before.

Arriving back at Hua Hin I took the 3pm bus back to Mochit.

Thanks for reading, next trip Krabi (Khao Phanom Bencha) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (Khao Luang). If the weather is good I might make a detour to Koh Libong/Koh Mook to try to find the dugongs (sea cows) that live there. I've been 3 times and no luck yet although I did see dolphins at Koh Sukorn, not far from Libong.

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05 Jul 2019 21:27 #5292 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs
I really like that stretch of coastline from Pranburi south; it has a certain coastal-rural charm to it, especially after getting past Dolphin Bay - Bonok I find especially relaxed. Additionally, there are often good shorebirds to be found along those lonely beaches at the right times of year.

I've also been to Kuibui NP, and did the pickup trip. We saw elephants, gaur, and a banteng, along with a wild boar that ran across the dirt road - there were a fair number of good birds, too, and I'm sure more time focusing on avian fauna alone would turn up even more interesting species.

Was that viewpoint at the Forest Park at Khao Kalok? (There's a good restaurant at the southern side of that coastal hill ;) )

And agreed, that mangrove tower is impressive, but I feel that the one at Khung Kraben, Chantaburi is equally high (and seemingly as new) and offers a better opportunity to see more wildlife, birds in particular.

Thanks again for your detailed trip reports, I greatly appreciated them!

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10 Jul 2019 20:41 - 10 Jul 2019 20:43 #5309 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic Kui Buri & Sam Roi Yot NPs
Yes that's the one. That viewpoint is from the signposted "nature trail". Separately, if you walk down to the beach where the cave is, there is also another short 50m 'trail' up amongst layers of pigeon droppings to another, slightly less impressive viewpoint but your picture across the beach and to the sea from there will be framed by the edges of the cave.

I saw 1-2 posts on here for the Kui Buri 'safari', I think it might have been yours.

I think it is good that Thailand has somewhere like that because there are so many ignorant tourists who come to Thailand and support (financially speaking) captive elephant tourism. Even if they aren't riding the elephants, I still think it wrong to bathe them and feed them, they're wild animals not horses or pigs. And there are too many dodgy operators who are exploiting and breeding elephants for financial gain. It is easy to say to those tourists, don't go there, here is an alternative to see elephants (as well as other animals) guaranteed, and it will probably cost you less than a 'sanctuary' 'experience' would and you can be sure these elephants have not been/are not being abused.

Ideally I think all captive elephant tourism should be government controlled (not for profit), only for sick or injured elephants left over from logging or trekking, and that close contact should not be allowed. Captive breeding should not be allowed. Any elephants fit to be released should be. It is wrong that now any individual can legally own an elephant in Thailand, that system is open to abuse from people whose priority is exploiting animals for profit, not animal welfare.

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