The Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uthai Thani and Tak Provinces, Thailand. The sanctuary was established in 1974, and is one of the largest and most important protected wildlife areas in Southeast Asia. The wildlife sanctuary was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1991. The protected area is home to a diverse range of animals including large mammals, birds, and reptiles. It is Thailand's premier Wildlife research sanctuary.
I've enjoyed reading through some of the older posts and trip reports from Huai Kha Kaeng & it's really whet my appetite for an upcoming trip! My wife & I will be hiring a 4WD & heading up to this reserve at the end of next month and I've got a few questions I hope someone can help us with.
Primarily the trip will be for sound recording of the forest & wildlife, but I'll also be taking photos & video footage. No specific target species although cats are always on my 'most-wanted' list, so I'll no doubt be spending a lot of time sitting and waiting....
1) Where to stay?
We've had one suggestion to try Hup Patad Homestay, about 40km's from park HQ, but we're not 100% sure which town/village this place is located in. Does anyone have any other recommendations closer to the park?
Depending on what type of 4wd they give us, we may have the option of sleeping in the back of the car if there is enough space (Toyota Fortuner - I doubt the 7 seat version will do it but maybe if we get a 5 seater....!)
2) If we do end up camping or sleeping in the car - nearest shop to buy to buy food/water?
3) Which section of Huai Kha Kaeng would you spend 4 days to maximize chances at wildlife? With a 4WD, can we access deeper into the reserve?
I am pretty sure that you can go no further into the park than the HQ unless you have written prior permission from the Department of National Parks in Bangkok. To get to just the HQ it is not necessary to have a 4x4 so If there are only 4x2 trucks available then that wouldn't be an issue.
I think Onflipflops has a pretty decent post covering what you can do in and around the HQ as there are still numerous walking trails and watching towers you can visit. And there's also a Black Leopard in that area so definitely enough to keep you interested!
Happy to be corrected on any info given and apologies if it is off the mark, but I believe it to be true!
Of the 3 entrances, I would only only consider the HQ, as Cyber is just a small weekender waterfall area and Huai Mae Dee is quite remote and the publicly accessible area is small and on the boundary of the sanctuary.
I would camp, there is basic food at the HQ area and you can stock up on "essentials and goodies" at Lan Sak which is the biggest town in the area and has stores, a market and 2 x 7/11s. Am not sure if the camp site rents tents? Maybe another poster can help with that? I think Jonathan and Jos have stayed at the campsite most recently?
Last time I was there .... closest hotel (bungalows) is on the main road at the entrance to Lan Sak, about 500 meters before the hospital - I have stayed there, more than acceptable. Hup Pha Tad Homestay is good but another 15 mins drive away, heres a
map of its location ("hotel")
. You can't miss it, it has dinosaurs in the front garden. From Lan Sak the entrance gate is about 20 minutes and then its a 10-15 minute drive to HQ.
As Bagheera mentions, you need Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket to get further in.
The nearest accommodation to the entrance (about 2kms) is a ranger-owned place with about 10 bungalows/ rooms. The bathroom in the connected rooms is larger than in the little pink concrete bungalows. Rate is 550 baht per night if I remember correctly. And last time they even installed wifi, but don't rely on it, haha.
Sometimes it is referred to as Baan 808, if I remember correctly. It's on a small side-road with some more houses. (
not sure if this is the exact location but it is on that stretch of road on your left. You'll see the pink buildings.)
These are the phone numbers, though as far as I know the owners don't speak English.
An option is to just go the the park entrance and ask for a room and then I think they will contact the ranger who owns this place. Normally no need to book in advance, especially this time of year I don't expect it will be busy.
Though, actually it might be better to camp to get early (and late) access to the few parts open for visitors. The best trail is Khao Hin Daeng. Enough cat evidence, but seeing any would require a lot of luck. Hiding and waiting might be a better option.
On the camping ground is a restaurant which only opens for large groups at the river bank. My experience is that there is electricity there if you need to charge batteries.
Near the head quarters (near the monument of Mr. Seub) is a restaurant where you can get Thai food. Make sure to order your dinner on time, because I think they won't be there after about 17:00 - 18:00.
But it is possible for them to leave your dinner in a box at the gate.
Outside the park there are a couple of food stalls, but these also close early, dont expect to get food after 18:00.
Bring some bread and spreads from a 7-eleven just in case.
The new toilet building behind the visitor centre at the camp ground has nice toilets though seems like there won't be light at night, and sadly they did not make showers in this new building. The old restrooms are not great, I don't mind, but some people might... the usual Thai bucket showers.
Highly recommend camping, so you'll have access to the main road before anyone else does. Try early morning / late afternoon drives. Drive slowly and keep your fingers crossed. According to my understanding they have regular sightings of leopards around the headquarter. You might even hear a tiger roar during the night! :woohoo: Amazing place, hope you'll have a good one.