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× 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.

HKK Latest?

16 Dec 2020 12:29 #5536 by Paul T
HKK Latest? was created by Paul T
Anyone been to Huai Kha Kaeng lately, what's the current situation re access etc?

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20 Dec 2020 09:34 - 20 Dec 2020 09:36 #5537 by jonathanbkk
Replied by jonathanbkk on topic HKK Latest?
I am heading up on Monday for 2 days at HKK

I tried a few of their phone numbers and they were typically rude to answer any questions, two of them hung up the phone on me while i was asking about camping etc but this has always been my experience with HKK staff unfortunately, google reviews from thais suggest the same. I get it, they are a sanctuary with only the goal to protect the animals, but they need a new PR team haha

Anyway will see how it goes and what they will allow

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22 Dec 2020 21:45 #5539 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic HKK Latest?
I've been twice this year - September and October - and I tried to book accommodation inside for the October visit (because staff on my September visit said I could), but my wife found the same as above: rude staff that gave no info and hung up.

Anyway, re: access, on both occasions I was allowed to walk the road past the HQ after asking the staff. I told them I'd walk along there before and they didn't question me, so off I went.

Regarding access further into the park, I have no idea.

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24 Dec 2020 23:18 #5540 by jonathanbkk
Replied by jonathanbkk on topic HKK Latest?
Well I just got back from 3 days worth up there. Below is the latest

Day 1 and 2

-There is a new boss for HKK so things are quite strict at the moment and for the foreseeable future

-for the Lan Sak entrance (the main entrance) the hours of operation are 6:30am to 5pm

-You cannot walk on any of the previously posted trails without a Ranger (not even Home of the Tiger). Even showing them my GPS and saying I had been on the trail before called Khao Hin Daeng, they said no without a Ranger. When we booked a Ranger to walk with, they said to sit down and wait while they dealt with some of the kids arrival, 2.5 hours later of us sitting around, they showed up and we proceeded to cancel the walk which was quite frustrating

-You can go to HQ and request access to the Nok Yeung tower, hours are heavily restricted and we could only go on day one from 8:30am to 3:30pm effectively killing any chance of seeing anything, day 2 they restricted it from 12-3:30 only. On top of this and maybe due to my bad luck, there were 6 people that joined me on day one, and 5 others came and went during my period of sitting. Day 2 the same group of 6 showed up so I gave up. Not ideal

-Ton Peung tower has been closed for sometime, if you previously knew about this tower there is a new gate blocking access from the main road destroying the chance of being a "little sneaky", doesnt appear that they want to allow anyone at all to go there whatsoever ranger or not

-I get it, the park is for the animals and not for the people, although birding around the HQ is still outstanding, you may want to avoid HKK

Huay Mai Dee (near Ban Rai) Entrance Day 3

-Due to lack of work on the roads and this entrance being closed a good portion of the rain season, this is fairly serious 4X4 driving to get into the campgrounds. There was no ranger at the gate at 7am so not really likely that there are any set hours of operation

-The campground has begun falling apart, it does not appear they are going to keep this area up due to costs and lack of budgets to do so

-We met with the boss who was preparing his team for a patrol who was very nice, even offered us breakfast. He explained what I knew already which was that the gate deeper into the park was off limits (previously I have been in) and they had no plan to fix it after rain season and for the foreseeable future due to lack of budgets for it

To some degree I suppose all these restrictions are working towards the animals benefit, but its always been my dream to see the interior of this park and tick off one of my top bucket list things to do with my life...to see a tiger in Thailand

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24 Dec 2020 23:55 #5541 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic HKK Latest?
I know the rules and safety guidelines etc are there for a reason but they exist mostly to protect city folk and people who might disturb the environment. If you are experienced in jungle and forest environments and aware of the dangers from e.g. the elephants (and let's face it many of the posters on these boards will know a lot more about the flora and fauna of Thailand than the rangers will) and can operate a GPS app, then my approach would just be to start walking until such a time as someone turns you around. I find if you ask a question the answer is almost always "cannot" and you waste time and energy going to all these places. If you ask and the answer is 'no' then you are out of options really. But if you don't ask the worst that can happen is you have to turn around and pretend you didn't know you weren't allowed there.

I realise if everybody did this there would be carnage but the reality is that there are barely any people in Thailand interested in wildlife/nature with an adventurous spirit that will walk more than 500 metres willingly.

At Huai Kha Kaeng they don't seem to be paying any attention to the dirt roads leading into the deeper areas of the park but you can't get onto them with a vehicle because of the checkpoint just before the river crossing. Only staff vehicles are allowed from there. I walked one of those for 2-3km just to put up a camera trap a couple of weeks ago. I was off the road down by a small stream when a 4x4 came by on the road above me - I guess if I had been on the road whoever was in that car would have told me to turn around.

I went to Cyber Waterfall after HKK and that was also closed (with staff positioned at the trailhead), I think elephants in the area was the reason. Another long detour for nothing. If things aren't permanently off limits then they are temporarily closed for one reason or another.

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26 Dec 2020 18:30 - 31 Dec 2020 00:04 #5542 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on topic HKK Latest?
I had a day there, and also saw Jonathan whilst I was there which was nice. Have to agree I was quite disappointed as well. Its not now somewhere I would think worth a trip all the way from Bangkok to just have access to the HQ compound and the roadway in and out. I say HQ compound because its literally fenced in now ;+(

Saying that I did have some photographic success in the dry/mixed dipterocarp roadway area with woodpeckers and another bird but only after sitting for 8 hours which may not be to everyone's tastes.

I have not been for quite a few years. I can't see myself making a dedicated trip back there to be honest. I accept its a sanctuary and not a park but for the day visitor with nature/wildlife in mind its too far IMHO for a dedicated trip with such limited opportunities.


   
  

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02 Jan 2021 15:35 #5552 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic HKK Latest?
Very sad to hear about these restrictions. I was hoping to finally go back there again this year, but have some doubts now.
Hearing of these limitations reminds me of the words they have printed at the Sueb Nakhasathien memorial site at the HQ area. He said the forests should be accessible for all people to experience nature. Apparently the current authorities don't care about what he has said. It was always quite limited, but sounds like it is more extreme nowadays. 
Such a shame. There goes my dream to ever see a tiger in the wild in Thailand.
 

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12 Mar 2021 18:48 #5602 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic HKK Latest?
I went back last week and was in as soon as it opened at 6.30am.  I was on my bicycle so no engine noise but the guard at the first watchtower (1) still spotted me trying to sneak onto the trail.  So I was turned away from that one.  As somebody already said you are only allowed on that trail after 8.30am so they are effectively only letting you in when you are unlikely to see anything.  It's the same in Khao Yai at Nong Pak Chi but the hours there are more or less dawn to dusk so at least you get a bit more opportunity.  The second watchtower (2) does not have any ranger station so I went down there no problem for a couple of hours but only saw those green peacocks/peafowl which always seem to be around.  Though on the way there I saw banteng and gaur in the forest.  I got quite close to them without me or them realising before eventually they heard my brakes and trotted off.  That was still only 7am... they probably would not be there in the middle of the day because the forest cover is too sparse - too hot.  That road forks left and right - left to the watchtower and the right takes you all the way to HQ.  It makes for a more interesting walk/ride than the gravel road.  In parts the road is literally covered with animal tracks, it would be a good place to put a camera trap.

 

I borrowed the above map from thainationalparks.com - is one of the posters here behind that website?

Once inside the main area I wandered down the same road I mentioned earlier to retrieve my camera.  Nothing on it but deer; I should have put it on the road where I found these tracks.

 
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12 Mar 2021 21:15 #5603 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic HKK Latest?
Really, they let you in on bicycle?
That is quite a surprise. But cool.

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13 Mar 2021 00:22 #5604 by wvwv
Replied by wvwv on topic HKK Latest?
I asked them on facebook before I went and they said it was okay but they warned me about the condition of the road not being conducive to easy cycling.  I think they were imagining a road bike but mine is a mountain bike so it didn't bother me.
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