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Trang/Phatthalung Mountain Treks (Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary) + other hikes

09 Nov 2021 12:13 #5698 by Paul T
Wow what an experience that must have been for them. That is special.

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10 Dec 2021 09:36 - 10 Dec 2021 10:03 #5712 by wvwv
I got down to Trang again for a few days recently and did quite a bit of hiking and exploring.

First stop Wang Pamek Dinosaur Park, which has a short steep trail through forest up to a viewpoint.  To get to the trailhead you have to go through the dinosaur park which was closed when I went, but staff didn't challenge me when I walked through a side path.  Seems more like a small family run operation rather than a big corporate place with security.  I think the entrance fee is usually about 30 baht.  The 'conqueror' sign is not the highest point, you can keep on walking quite a bit further until you reach a phone mast, but there is no view here unless you are brave enough to climb the mast at least half of the way.  There are lots of mushrooms along the trail and 3 or 4 giant concrete mushrooms as rest areas.

 

 

The trail starts behind the shelter/gazebo top left of photo:

 

I twice went to Thung Yai Arboretum, mentioned earlier.  Big sign at entrance saying closed since April 2021, some people are ignoring it and walking in anyway.  Not sure why closed; staff are still maintaining the gardens.  The skywalk bridge thing is now in disrepair, you can still use it but some handrails and floor panels are missing.  Or you can walk underneath the bridge and then continue on the trail as normal.  Two snakes found, a red-necked keelback and an oriental whip snake.  I think the keelback has a tick or some kind of parasite attached to it.

 

 

 



On the way down to Trang (I started driving from Prachuap) I also found a Malayan Pit Viper beside a rural road when I was taking a long detour to a waterfall.  It's the first of those I've found.  And a tarantula crossing the road too.

 

 

 

 
 
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10 Dec 2021 11:18 - 10 Dec 2021 11:58 #5713 by wvwv
The rest of the trip was focused on the Banthat Range again, I really like this mountain range, it's easily accessible and not far from Trang City with lots of waterfalls and streams.  The more I research and explore the more possible trails and routes I find.  It seems like there are at least 5-6 from the Trang side.

 

I mainly focused this time on Phrai Sawan WF route, which I wrote about earlier.  There has been some serious rainfall this rainy season which was evident throughout the trek right from the start - the path was washed away 50 metres from the trailhead by the river and since it had been a couple of years since I was last here, I couldn't remember where the trail went or which side of the river it was on.  It seemed to just dead end.  A few minutes of head-scratching later I went back to the trailhead and took a left on a less clear trail.  And so I stumbled upon an impressive waterfall not labelled on Google Maps.  Marked on my Google Earth screenshot as 'Waterfall A'.

 

 

I am classing this sign as the 'trailhead' as this is the furthest point you can drive a bike to.  But the road isn't in good shape so you might have to park 1-2km before, especially if in a normal car.

 

Eventually I found the trail (past the part that had fallen into the river), just by luck really.  And from there it is a clear and obvious trail for about 4km, not much elevation gain on this section.  Lots of wild boar activity in this area, I saw a big one which grunted and trotted off sharpish.

 

Then there are a few stream crossings and either I lost the trail or the trail sort of dead ends here.  I searched around and eventually settled upon a minor ridge trail which has not been used for a long time.  Some old pieces of litter present, but I am fairly sure this is not the correct/current way to go.  The higher I got the less obvious the trail was and eventually it was battling through vines and spiky plants, not recommended.  But by then I was only 1km or so away from the summit so I pressed on.

 

Because I arrived at the summit via an old trail, there were no dirt paths like those you can easily see from the trek at the start of this thread.  I was expecting to be able to find a dirt path into the forest and take an easier route back down the mountain, but I guess I was at least 500m away from where I should have been.  The summit is covered in tough bushes which are about waist height and can't be pushed through.  It makes it very difficult to move from peak to peak.  I scrambled up a peak topping out at 1139m which was the highest one in the vicinity, getting scratched pretty bad in the process, took some photos and settled on going back down the way I had came.  Entering the forest again (which is more like a wetland/mossy type of habitat once you get over 1000m) and found a viper, pretty sure it's Trimeresurus Venustus - Beautiful Pit Viper.  I found one of these before in Phuket.  Their range seems to be confined to Surat Thani, Krabi, Phuket, Trang and probably some adjoining provinces.

 

 
 
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10 Dec 2021 12:13 - 10 Dec 2021 13:04 #5714 by wvwv
Off to one side of the trail I saw a landslide.  Fed up of battling through the jungle I figured that might be an easier way down.  I think this is actually a stream headwater but there is only water flow when you get part way down, I guess it's subject to amount of recent rainfall.  It is steep in places but definitely the easier way to go.  Further down the incline levels off and it's like an adventure playground for adults, hopping from rock to rock and crossing the stream using fallen trees like balancing beams. I thought this was a snake but then I saw the tiny legs, Lygosoma Siamensis - Siamese Supple Skink?





The amount of fallen trees all around was immense, there must have been a large landslide from near the top of the mountain and on the way down it's taken away sides of the riverbank and all the trees with it.





In summary if you are going to attempt this, and like me you can't find the last section of trail, definitely take the river bed route and bear in mind that the summit is not easily walkable, you can't stroll around.  By the way there were a few leeches in December.  If you are in the area and not interested in a long hike, definitely do Waterfall A, especially during/after rainy season.  It's not far to walk at all.

I will only add a couple of photos of the views because they'll be similar to those earlier in the thread.  The view from the summit is 360 degree and you can see Phatthalung and Trang cities as well as the Gulf and Andaman Coasts on a clear day.





GPS tracks for this trek and the dinosaur/mushroom walk: 

 

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