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San Nok Wua Trek (Khao Laem National Park)

13 Sep 2019 12:31 - 13 Sep 2019 12:41 #5344 by wvwv
'San Nok Wua' - The Bulls' Horns.



It's possible to get here by public transport by taking a bus from Mochit or Sai Tai Mai to Kanchanaburi (more frequent bus departures from Sai Tai Mai; every 30 minutes or so. Mochit only has 2 daily buses). Then another bus to Sangklaburi, getting off the bus at Khao Laem National Park Headquarters. I believe there are also a couple of direct buses from Mochit to Sangklaburi.

Whether going by bus or car you'll need a minimum of 2 days because it's a long way from Bangkok (or wherever else you might be coming from).

In the general area there are a couple of waterfalls and 35km away is Sangklaburi which has the Mon Bridge. Pom Pee campsite is 1km from HQ and has great views across the lake.



This trek is similar to Chang Puak and Chiang Dao treks, in that you need to register in advance and there is some bureaucracy to undertake before you can walk anywhere. It would be difficult to organise if you cannot speak Thai and do not have a Thai friend to organise it for you. I have read that this trek is available all year round but I believe it is only walked Thursday-Sunday and they will not do day hikes; you need to stay overnight on the mountain (camping). It should be possible to rent tent and sleeping equipment from National Park HQ if you don't have your own, and I have read you can order food to be cooked for you for the climb up the mountain. But you would still need to take your own food for the evening meal and next morning's breakfast. Apparently there is a water source near the top of the mountain but I didn't look for it. There are only a couple of streams crossing the actual trail and both these are near the start.



Water is clear. You can see a directional sign at stream crossing at the top of photo.

Costs:

- Camping fee 30 baht per person (60 baht if you sleep at Pom Pee Campsite the night before).
- National Park Fee 200 baht (for foreign adult)
- Transportation from HQ to trailhead 1000 baht (per car/group not per person). It's 7.5km and the price includes the return journey.
- Guide cost 1000 baht (per group of max 7 people)
- Porter cost 1400 baht (maximum 30kg). Obviously you don't need to pay for the porter if you carry your own stuff.

There are lots of trip reports on sites like readme.me and trippacker.com from Thais who have walked it, just search Google. But none of them have the GPS track or trailhead coordinates. Here is one of the best and also includes the phone number to call to book: readme.me/p/7729

I try to do write-ups which include gps tracks so people have the option to do the trail independently, but some trails are not advisable to be walked without permission/a guide for various reasons and I think this is probably one. Reasons being a.) there are up to 20 tigers in this park - the guides carry guns. b.) The road to trailhead is gated some of the time because the road leads to a military radar station. c.) There is nowhere to park at trailhead (other than an electrical shed 100m before) and a bike or car left by side of road might draw attention.

In my experience (I've only been twice) the gate is opened 9am-ish and not closed again until late afternoon. There is nobody actively policing the gate i.e. it seems private vehicles can come and go as they please (and indeed a Google Streetview car has been up here), and would only be turned around upon reaching the military base at the top. The trailhead is well before that base... But, tigers.

The road to trailhead essentially puts you 6km inside the forest, which is already quite deep, and then the walk penetrates another 8km.



The forest is generally bamboo. There are some leeches on the trail in rainy season but not as many as places like Khao Yai. Leeches are worse in morning, in the afternoon they seek cover away from the trail as it dries out/warms up. The trail is marked throughout with arrows and resting points every now and again. Some steep sections are roped.

GPS track (see warning above) and elevation map:

File Attachment:

File Name: 0911092309...kwua.gpx
File Size:102 KB




The actual height of the point where the sign is is 1605m. The actual height of the place that everybody takes photos at and finishes the walk at is 1630m. The highest possible point is a little further at 1652m. Assuming the GPS and Google Maps are accurate that's considerably less than the sign suggests (1767m).



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13 Sep 2019 14:33 - 13 Sep 2019 15:21 #5345 by wvwv
Walk up took me just over 3 hours, walking fast with no breaks. A slow walker might take 5-6 hours. Walk down took 2.5 hours but I was stopping to take photos (the fog had cleared on the way down) and cut open bamboo for water. If we say an average-slow walker might take 7-8+ hours up and down you can understand why they don't want to do day hikes as it would leave little time at the summit.

If you want 'sea of fogs' you need to go in winter time (roughly November-February). The sea of fog is in the morning when you wake up and dissipates as the sun warms it.

I was a bit unlucky in that I had lots of mist/clouds around me at the summit but that's what you get for going in rainy season. A couple of breaks in the cloud for 30 minutes enabled me to get some pictures, at least.



The trailhead. Sign says 9km to summit.



They're using camera traps, I saw two of these.



You can cut open bamboo for water.





Torynorrhina Flammea - They feed on sap from trees (this one was eating bamboo sap) and fruit.





You can see the road up to Khao Radar





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13 Sep 2019 14:50 - 13 Sep 2019 15:14 #5346 by wvwv






Some macaques were eating these berries. I had a nibble - very tasty.



Not sure what type of caterpillar..









Gaur? I'm not sure. This was right at the summit. Also found some even bigger prints near the start of the trail, very fresh too.



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13 Sep 2019 14:58 #5347 by wvwv
The following user(s) said Thank You: BKKBen

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17 Sep 2019 09:52 #5350 by WT admin
Replied by WT admin on topic San Nok Wua Trek (Khao Laem National Park)
Another great trail review WVWV. We are loving your trails.

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17 Sep 2019 15:45 #5351 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic San Nok Wua Trek (Khao Laem National Park)
I agree with WT Admin - these posts are fantastic. I really enjoy reading them and seeing the pics you post. I've a question for you - what GPS gear do you carry for your hikes?

Also a question for Admin, would it be possible to get all of these hikes/trails combined under a common tab?

Thanks all round. This whole site is a wealth of shared knowledge!

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18 Sep 2019 19:15 #5352 by wvwv
Hello, no gear, just a phone with a GPS app. Works fine for me and then I can upload the gpx/kml file onto Google Earth on the laptop later to get the pictures of the trail and the terrain. Free assuming you have a smart phone and a computer already.

I've nearly exhausted all the treks I know of in Thailand but I have some old ones I didn't write about yet which I will write up at some point.

My list of mountains still to conquer!:

Doi Langka (Khun Chae NP)
Khao Mokoju (Mae Wong NP)
Khao Luang (Nakhon Si Thammarat)
Not a mountain but the dirt road which travels 70km through Pang Sida National Park
The following user(s) said Thank You: BKKBen

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19 Sep 2019 21:20 #5353 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic San Nok Wua Trek (Khao Laem National Park)
If I may ask, what GPS app do you use, and on which system, Apple or Android?

I plan on doing Khao Luang next April (bad weather had me unable to complete the hike this past February), but I'll be taking at least 2 nights on the mountain, mostly to look for birds, but any wildlife seen will be great. While I don't think using a guide for Khao Luang is strictly enforced (there was no one to do so when I attempted earlier this year), I think it's recommended; even though I attempted the hike with a guide at the start of the hiking season (and just after Tropical Storm Pabuk), the trail was at times seemingly non-existent.

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20 Sep 2019 09:15 #5354 by wvwv
Backcountry Navigator app on Android. I'm sure there are other apps that can do exactly the same thing i.e. Gaia, Wikiloc, but I've never used them because I've always found BCN adequate.

I doubt I'll have done Khao Luang by April so let me know nearer the time and maybe we can split the cost. I've no problem using a guide if in a group, it's when I'm solo, especially for the overnight and multi-day treks, that it's uneconomical. Mokoju is supposed to be 13,000 baht per group. And then you have your travel expenses and national park fee on top, it's just not worth it unless there are a few people, for me at least.

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20 Sep 2019 21:03 #5358 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic San Nok Wua Trek (Khao Laem National Park)
"I doubt I'll have done Khao Luang by April so let me know nearer the time and maybe we can split the cost." --> No worries. I'll be driving down from Bangkok, too, so if you're around, we can travel down together.

"Mokoju is supposed to be 13,000 baht per group. And then you have your travel expenses and national park fee on top, it's just not worth it unless there are a few people, for me at least." --> Mokoju is definitely on my radar, too, and I may be able to rustle up enough people to make it worthwhile, but I'd say that would not be until December 2020 at the earliest, but I'll keep you posted if you're interested.

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