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PAGE 1 What to do in Khoa Sok National Park? THAILAND BY : NURSHAFIKA SUHAIMI

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Page 1: Nurshafika suhaimi

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What to do in Khoa Sok National Park?

THAILANDBY : NURSHAFIKA SUHAIMI

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Khao Sok National Park is located in Surat

Thani province in Thailand. Its land area

is 739 km², and it includes the 165 square

kilometer Cheow Lan Lake dammed by the

Ratchaprapha dam. The park comprises the

largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thai-

land and is a remnant of rainforest which

is older and more diverse than the Amazon

Rainforest. Beautiful sandstone and mud-

stone rocks rise about 300-600m above the

sea level. Additionally the Park is traversed

by a limestone mountain range from north to

south with the highest point of 950m. This

mountain range is hit by monsoon rain com-

ing from both the Gulf of Thailand and the

Andaman Sea, which makes it Thailand’s

wettest region with an annual rain fall of

3500mm. Heavy rainfall and falling leaves

led to the erosion of the limestone rocks and

created the significant karst formation of

today.

Map of Thailand

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National Park in Southern Thailand is an

amazing place. It is covered by the oldest

evergreen rainforest in the world, huge lime-

stone mountains shooting straight up in the

air, deep valleys, breathtaking lakes, exciting

caves, wild animals and much more.

Khao Sok is perfectly situated on the main-

land between Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and

Koh Samui, the most popular destinations in

Southern Thailand. It is a fantastic place to

go on vacation. Close and personal elephant

encounters, jungle trekking on foot, canoe-

ing and Truck Safaris are all possible activi-

ties, which will give you the experience of

a lifetime. We also recommend tours to visit

various locations in Khao Sok. One of the

most interesting areas is stunningly beautiful

Cheow Larn Lake in the heart of the National

Park with its floating raft houses and luxu-

ry tents – an absolute must-see!

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About Khoa Sok

KHOA SOK NATIONAL PARK

Khao Sok National Park has been eons in the

making, and its mist-cloaked forests contain

plants and animals both rare and beautiful,

such as the wild elephant, the great horn-

bill, and the massive rafflesia flower. In fact,

Khao Sok is home to over 50 types of mam-

mal, 300 bird species, and several endemic

orchids and palm trees.

The park covers 739 square kilometers and

adjoins several other protected areas to form

Thailand’s largest (and last) uninhabited wil-

derness. In 1984, Dick Sandler started Our

Jungle House and it has remained an out-

standing model for tourism in spite of Khao

Sok’s changing landscape.

Now an oasis of nature in a valley of rubber

and palm oil plantations, the park is divided

into two parts. First is the area round park

headquarters, reachable by vehicle on a well

paved road and passing a small village of

shops, guest houses, and eating places. The

second is Cheow Lan Lake, 45 minutes drive

from the village, known for its stunning vis-

tas, floating raft houses, and inviting waters.

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Most commonly seen in Khao Sok, even

here at the resort, are hornbills and monkeys.

There are numerous species of hornbills, and

you may get to see the Great Hornbill with

its 1-1/2 meter wing span that makes a loud

whoosh sound as it flies. More common is

the medium-sized Pied Hornbill. All have a

characteristic ungainly look, with black and

white body and curved yellow beak.

There are four types of monkey in Khao Sok

– the shy and adorable langur (aka leaf mon-

key), the sociable long-tailed macaque (seen

year round here at the Jungle House), and the

less common stump-tailed macaque and pig-

tailed macaque. Other simians found in the

area are the white-handed gibbon, that can be

heard calling from the mountains each morn-

ing, and the slow loris (a nocturnal, incred-

ibly cute, lemur-like creature).

On a Cheow Larn lake trip, you

can expect to see otters, fish eagles,

colorful yellow-beaked hornbills,

gibbons, and monkeys. On the Khao

Sok Special Wildlife Tour it is also

possible to see wild elephants, sam-

bar deer, the highly endangered tapir

as well as the gaur (Asian bison).

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HISTORY OF CHEOW LAN LAKE

About an hour’s drive away from National

Park Headquarters lies the Rajaprabha Dam,

which means ‘Light of the Kingdom,’ a fit-

ting name for a dam built to provide electric-

ity for the rapidly developing area. In 1982,

the government of Thailand began construc-

tion of the 94-meter dam on Klong Saeng,

the largest river in Southern Thailand.

At the time, the area was a still a hideout for

political activists who had fled Bangkok dur-

ing the military crackdowns of the 1970s. By

1989, the rebels had been granted amnesty,

and the reservoir had filled up to create the

165 sq km Cheow Larn Lake. The area sub-

merged by the dam was historically used for

fruit farming and as a trade route between

the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Nowadays, the lake is utilized by fishermen,

day trippers, and floating bunglaows.

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ATTRACTIONS AND ACCOMMODA-TIONS

All journeys at Cheow Lan Lake start at the

Rajaprabha pier, lined with longtail boats

used for fishing or exploring the many se-

cluded coves and islands. Day trips feature a

stop at the floating rafthouses, and for over-

night trips, you can stay in bungalows made

from natural materials. The rooms are basic

but comfortable, and bathrooms are located

away from the sleeping area. Some of the

older employees actually inhabited the valley

before it was flooded!

Heading out to explore, there are several

hikes, all requiring a guide, including trails

to a viewpoint(mid-level difficulty), Coral

Cave(easy), Nam Talu Cave (challenging).

Cheow Larn lake’s other attractions include

kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing from

the boat, swimming in the lake, and longer

expeditions to the wildlife sanctuary. Most

accommodations have kayaks that guests

can use to explore nearby coves in search of

wildlife and solitude. Fishing trips are a fa-

vorite among visitors and boat drivers, most

of which are fishermen themselves; river

catfish, snakehead

fish, and jungle

perch are among

the fish one might

encounter at the

lake. Scuba divers

can explore aban-

doned temples and

houses left intact.

Scuba divers can

explore remnants

of the submerged

forest and crevices in the karsts; for those

who are nitrox certified, abandoned houses

and temples are sitting intact at the bottom of

the reservoir.

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Khao Sok’s unusual ecological features in-

clude the flora found on the craggy limestone

mountains known as karsts. These spectacu-

lar cliffs began their life as sea corals. They

were uplifted en masse with the Earth’s crust

to form the peaks we see today and were

subsequently eroded by rain and the rise and

fall of the oceans leaving dramatic, sharp and

varied shapes.

The lack of soil, extreme desiccation during

dry season and varying altitude have

created niches for endemic species of

plants. The pralahoo palm, langkow

palm, and fern palm are examples of

species seen in Khao Sok and nearly

nowhere else. Rainwater collects on

small shelves along karst faces and

mixes with decaying plant matter to

make a soil that provides just enough

for these palms to

grow.

Another fascinat-

ing oddity promi-

nent in Khao Sok

ecology is the

strangler fig. The

strangler fig is

actually a vine

although after

years of growth it

looks like a tree.

Its fruit, which is not much different from

the fig we eat, is a favorite of the hornbills,

gibbons, and other wild animals and birds

in the forest. When these animals emit the

seed and it falls on a tree, it eventually sends

fast-growing roots to the ground. After many

years, these roots become large enough to

circle and strangle the host tree, which dies

and deteriorates, leaving a hollow sometimes

big enough to walk into.

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Khao Sok has been very geologically stable

over the last 60 million years: while other

regions of the world experienced periods

of glaciation and shifting climate, Thailand

rested in the middle of the relatively stable

Indo-Chinese plate, never drifting far

from the equator. This long period of

stable weather and rainfall patterns have

allowed the many species of the area to

prosper. For more details see our Geol-

ogy blog here.

Khao Sok rests near or straddles many

features that create different bioregions.

The Tenasserim Hills that serve as a

continental divide, separating eastern and

western regions of the Thai peninsula,

run along the edge of Khao Sok National

Park. It lies immediately below the

Isthmus of Kra, separating the bioregions of

peninsular Thailand and Malaysia from the

more deciduous, dry regions to the north.

The Kangar-Pattani line south of Khao Sok

near the Thai-Malay

border separates the

jungles of the Orient

from the jungles of

Indonesia and its sur-

rounding areas. A key

distinction of this line

is the shift in humidity,

as it is markedly higher

south of the line.

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GALLERY

Khoa Sak is really the best interesting place in the

world and people should come here once in your

life!