× Note: Sanctuaries are different to National Parks in Thailand, Thailand currently has established 39 sanctuaries and access is more restrictive as their role is as a sanctuary for wildlife rather than a park for the nation. Some sanctuaries do allow limited access to tourists.

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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23 Feb 2022 22:00 - 23 Feb 2022 23:17 #5759 by wvwv
I went down to Phattalung again last week for a trail race.  It was split into 10km, 35k and 60k races, but the organiser had issues with access into the forest.  Some conservationists complained that it would disturb the wild animals and despite the organiser going through all the proper channels in the first instance, the DNP didn't want the bad publicity (it made national news on the TV) and revoked permission for them to use any area within the Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary.  I really felt for the organisers because they'd done everything right and planned months in advance and literally 4-5 days before the event they'd been screwed over.  In the end they basically had to run through farmland and on dirt and tarmac roads and the 60km and 35km races were reduced to 20km in length.  On the image below of the 20km route, that pink line is the boundary of the wildlife sanctuary.



And this is the original route for 60km which goes right into the heart of the forest:



Here is an article (need to translate to English) and there are some wildlife pictures on there too.  mgronline.com/south/detail/9650000012539

I had only signed up for the 10k so wasn't affected too much.  I still had some energy after that so I wanted to check out some of the 60km route (which was still marked with ribbons that the organiser had already put up).  I started walking from the race start/finish area, so I walked further than I needed to.  You could get a car 2km closer, it is a new road not yet marked on google maps.  I'm pretty sure you want to turn off the 4122 at 7.45883836035305, 99.92095830922081 and then just follow the road up.  Half way along that road there is a nice waterfall and rest area but you need to make a slight detour.  Waterfall is at 7.452643004863735, 99.91410605923933 .  All the buildings and infrastructure at the waterfall are brand new at time of writing.

 

And after the road ends, for about 1km there is a concrete and dirt path wide enough for a scooter which ends at a rubber tapper's hut.  Then you enter the proper forest. 

  

Further up the road are some nice views.

 

The road turns to dirt and finally a narrow concrete path which passes next to a final small waterfall.

 

If you look on the rocks next to the waterfall you might see this hive.

 

Typical section of trail:

 

It's a hard trail because of the steep incline throughout.  But not particularly long.  No water sources and a few leeches.
 
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24 Feb 2022 00:05 - 16 Mar 2022 13:12 #5761 by wvwv
First viewpoint about halfway up the trail:

 

Just before that viewpoint I found this snake, think it's Ptyas Carinata - Keeled Rat Snake.  I read they have really varied colouration.

 

 

And a strange caterpillar:

 

The final viewpoint on the marked race course which is where I also turned around.  It looks towards the spine of the mountain range which is at a slightly higher elevation than this point:

 

The trail did continue back into the forest here and I'm pretty sure it goes to the top.

 

I left a trail camera somewhere along this trail so when I go to pick it up in a couple of months I will try and get to the top and update the thread.

Saw quite a bit of wild boar activity at the higher elevations on this trail.  I was looking out for tapir tracks but didn't see anything.

 

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