Mother Nature's Finest Creations: The Khao Sok National Park
A birds-eye view over the Ratchaprapha Dam in Khao Sok National ParkThe formation of this stunning natural wonder began hundreds of millions of years ago, with the landscape having consisted of a coral reef said to have spanned across from China through to Borneo. During the Tertiary period (between 66- 3 million years ago), the tectonic plates of India and Eurasia collided giving birth to the Himalayas and drastically shifting the landmass of Thailand. Colossal monuments of mudstone, sandstone and limestone were then uplifted. Today, the very same fragments of earth’s crust remain, having gradually been eroded by rivers and acidified rainwater into stunning sky-high karsts. The virgin forests of Khao Sok would largely no longer exist in the same way that it does today, would it not have been for a widespread disease epidemic during the 1940s, where the remaining surviving population abandoned their houses and moved away. The deserted village is now known as “Ban Sop” or “Village of the Dead”, the name may have also derived from a nearby mountain named “Khao Sop”, or “Corpse Mountain”. Logging and mining had begun to degrade the natural resources of the area during the 1960s, then Thai communist insurgents based their stronghold deep within the rainforested mountainous terrain of Khao Sok. Not only keeping the Thai Army at bay for almost a decade, this prevented loggers, miners and hunters from further utilizing the area. The aforementioned unintended factors lead to Khao Sok being largely untouched or more so than the majority of Thailand’s remaining wilderness. The National Park was officially established on December 22nd, 1980.
The calm waters of the Cheow Lan Lake are encircled by the remnants of one of the oldest primeval forests in the worldKhao Sok National Park consists of dense rainforested jungles, towering mountainous karsts and the 165 km² man-made lake of Cheow Lan. A dam built in the 1980s aimed to provide the south of Thailand with a reliable source of electricity, unfortunately resulting in an ecological disaster, with nearby villages being flooded and a host of wildlife lost in the process. Now, the large freshwater lake attracts visitors from far and wide, offering a range of activities from day trips to overnight stays on floating raft houses. Due to the extensive and almost impenetrable terrain imbedded within the Khao Sok National Park, human interference in its valuable ecosystem has remained minimal over the past few decades. A wide variety of flourishing wildlife can be spotted in the area such as majestic wild elephants, clouded leopards, tigers, Malaysian sun bears, primates such as gibbons or the spectacled langur, mouse deer, gaur, pangolin, over 30 species of bats, 311 different species of birds, a huge variety of insects, reptiles, amphibious creatures, and that’s just to name a few. Each species, be it reptilian or mammalian, serves an invaluable role within the parks intricate ecosystem. The myriad of flora present in the park are equally, if not more impressive than its fauna. Partially a tropical evergreen forest and partially tropical rainforest, an approximate of 200 different species of plant life are found per hectare. Some of the more striking species of flora found in Khao Sok include the carnivorous pitcher plant- renowned for reportedly consuming even small critters such as rats, the ever-entangling Liana- Tarzan’s best friend, a host of edible fruits like wild banana or different types of figs, ginormous buttress roots, and most notably the Rafflesia Kerii. The Rafflesia is a parasitic flower that grows on a specific grapevine; they can grow up to 90 centimeters in diameter and weigh up to seven kilograms! Once having flowered, they emit a pungent smell, comparable with that of a rotting carcass.
Relaxing by or boating on the Cheow Lan Lake is only one of the many available leisurely activities available at the National ParkProbably the best of its kind in Thailand, this National Park is a fantastic destination to visit for those who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. Visitors are most welcome, as they are vital in funding the parks maintenance costs and in the protection of wildlife within the area. The National Park area is not only older but holds more biodiversity than Amazonia itself. It is best explored through a variety of outdoor activities such as trekking in the valleys and jungles, kayaking and bamboo rafting along its narrow rivers, or boating on the open waters of the Cheow Lan Lake. Due to its sheer size as well as existing wildlife present within the national park, it is strongly advised that a local guide is booked should you want to go on any excursions.
Two of our beautiful guests enjoying the stunning weather within the Khao Sok National ParkHere’s some basic information about the climate to help you decide on the best time of the year to visit Khao Sok National Park. The park is open all year round. The busiest times of the year are typically during the holiday seasons, should you like to plan a visit for when the park is at its quietest, we suggest booking for the months of May, September or October. Accommodation providers are usually looking to fill-up their rooms during these months, so expect to find some great deals! You may visit the park at any time of the year, however be wary of the weather conditions during the different seasons, and put some thought into what sorts of activities you would like to do while you’re there. For those who would like to go trekking, the dry season is preferred since it’s less muddy and the rivers aren’t too swollen. Those who prefer activities such as birdwatching or animal spotting, the wet season is more suitable. It’s a rainforest, so it’s bound to rain at some point during your visit. Khao Sok resides amongst the rainiest regions of Thailand with over 3,500 millimeters of tropical rainfall each year; so downpours may be expected on any day of the year. Don’t worry, the average downpour only lasts an hour or two, before the skies return to their usual bright blue radiance and the sun begins to shine.