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Khao Mokochu/Mokoju (Mae Wong NP)

09 Mar 2021 13:44 - 10 Mar 2021 18:47 #5597 by wvwv
Khao Mokochu/Mokoju (Mae Wong NP) was created by wvwv
Khao Mokochu

  

This is the longest jungle trail in Thailand at 28km each way, plus an optional 5-6km to a nearby waterfall (Mae Reewa WF) and back; potentially 62km total.  Mae Wong National Park run it as either a 3-day or 5-day trek.  The first 15-16km is a rolling dirt road which takes a full day to hike.  The 3-day trek skips this (you are driven that part).

Even if you did the 3-day version, that would still be a round trip of about 26km, or 32km with the waterfall.

It seems to be the holy grail of mountain ascents amongst Thais, not just because of the length but because it's difficult to get permission to climb it.  Only two groups climb per week, Group A and B (I think on the same days, they are just split into different groups to make the numbers manageable for guiding) and the climbing season is only November to February (this year curtailed sometime in Dec/Jan due to virus).  With group sizes of 12 (24 per week) and 12 weeks of climbing, there are about 288 people climbing per year.  You have to pay attention to their facebook page and apply as soon as they open the booking of slots.  facebook.com/maewong.np/posts/  It fills up in a matter of hours rather than days; fastest finger first.  Ideally a Thai person would apply on your behalf, unless you can read Thai.

The peak is 1913m according to my GPS.  Many sources online say 1960 but Google Maps confirms 1900-1920.

 

It's on the boundary of Kamphaeng Phet and Tak provinces.  I read that it is the highest peak in the Western Forest Complex.  Chong Yen is another viewpoint in the park, reachable by car, and it's part of the same boundary.  Most people visiting Mae Wong will end up at Chong Yen, but very few make it to Mokoju.

Rough approximation of costs:
  • Guides/rangers 13500 baht per group (so divide by 12 for per person)
  • National Park fee (200 baht for foreign adult)
  • Porters 500 baht per day
You also need to take all your own food and supplies.  There are water sources throughout the trek so you need not bring nor carry much water.  The visitor centre where you begin the trek has a free water machine at the restaurant where you can fill a bottle or two.

Mae Wong is one of those parks with no public transport.  If you don't have your own vehicle you can get a Mochit to Khlong Lan big bus (twice daily at time of writing, 9am and 12pm).  From Khlong Lan you would have to take a taxi the remaining 20km.  I took a bicycle so cycled it.

So onto the trek.  The dirt road is not through pristine forest, some of the area I think has been deforested in the past, like you can see at Chong Yen and other parts of Mae Wong NP.  But there were still some hoof tracks and elephant poo etc, and at least half of the way is through forest you would not consider degraded.  I think the dirt road section would not be a great loss and I don't understand why they don't scrap that part.  There are some more photos of this part and the rest of the trek here (written in Thai):  th.readme.me/p/6979

 

The road ends at a ranger station - Mae Karon - which has some shelters for camping and proper toilets, the last you will see for a while.  On Google Maps it is labelled as Mae Krasa, not Karon.  This station seems to be manned during the day but irregularly at night.

 

The trail proper starts from near the camping shelters.  You will walk about 4.5km, mostly flat, which makes for a very easy day.  This is also the day where you can trek to Mae Reewa Waterfall if you want to, which would add another 6km.  I skipped that but it looks a tall one from pictures I've seen.  You camp on the river bank, at what seems to be known as Mae Reewa Camp.  This is the turning where you can go right to Mokoju and left to the waterfall:

 

The trail is well-trodden throughout.  In some sections fallen bamboo leaves cover up the path, but it's still fairly obvious.  I think if you were in one of the first groups to ascend in the year (November), there might be a machete required as nobody would have walked it for 8 months.  The km sign shown below is one of only 2 on the trail, at 25km and 26km.  27km had been half burnt in a forest fire and I have no idea what happened to the others.

 

The next day is all elevation gain.  From the start of the trek at the visitor centre to this point, you haven't gained any elevation at all; still at around 350m asl. It's just been a bit hilly up to now.  But the next 8km takes you up to 1913m with a few rope sections and grades of up to 60%.  In this section I saw a few troops of langurs and macaques but all scarpered as I got close.  After Mae Wong I was going to Huai Kha Kaeng on the bicycle and I wasn't carrying a scope or any extra camera equipment to lighten the load for that.

There are two water sources before the peak, Klong 1 and Klong 2.  Klong 2 Camp is marked on Google Maps and it's the last camp before the summit.  Klong 1 water source:

 

There are a few clearings/glades around which are being used as camps, not just the one, so I wasn't sure which was the official Klong 2 Camp, but this one looked the most picturesque.  It's just missing some fairies and pixie dust.

 

I did not do this trek the conventional 3/5-day way, so I was only at the summit 11am-12pm - no sunset or sunrise possible for me.  But I understand you can go up twice from Klong 2 Camp, to see both sunrise and sunset.

The famous sailboat rock at the summit, which is the highest point.



The view at the top is 360 degrees with no roads or villages in sight.

The total elevation gain over the 28km going up is 2190m and coming back to the visitor centre is 610m. 

 
 
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10 Mar 2021 18:18 - 13 Mar 2021 21:32 #5598 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic Khao Mokochu/Mokoju (Mae Wong NP)
GPS track:

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You can just see the rock on the picture above.  And below are a couple of maps from the visitor centre displays.

 

 

And here's a gif file which I had to reduce in size a bit to make the file size uploadable, but it gives you a 360 degree perspective.

 
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