I had first come across the park overhearing other travellers the night I first arrived in Surat Thani early January. Its meant to be beautiful. Further, after three days in (beach tourist packed) Krabi I figured outdoor makes for a nice cure. As it turned out, the artificial reservoir comprising of many islands looked akin to Guatape near Medellin, Colombia, which I visited only in Nov’17. Just not the same nice viewpoint and certainly no Pablo Escobar property.
Memories of Guatape, Colombia
Day one coming here was mostly lost on travel. While I took the first transfer out of Krabi, this one didn’t leave before 11:30am (300THB) and was then also taking longer. By 4pm I checked into the hostel (khao sok secret), where I met team Fulda – two fellow German travellers called Alex and Julian. Given my late arrival, I only managed brief 2h walking tour on day together with my new German friends. However, we didn’t get to see much more than bamboo jungle, loads of monkeys and a brief river swim. There was no time for waterfalls either, but i had a nice refreshing swim.
We ended up spending the rest of the evening together and shared plenty of travel anecdotes (they had already been in Vietnam on moped and Cambodia) and probably touched on all other current issues over pizza & Chang+Leo beers.
- Park boasts rainforest, waterfalls, limestone cliffs and island stubbed lake
- Established 1980
- Located in Southern Thailand’s Surat Thani province covering 739sqkm
- Highest level of rainfall in thailand at 3,500mm/year
Day trip to the lake: Given that solo jungle experiences are actively undermined here as elsewhere in Thailand (less money), I opted to book a day trip to the lake (1,500THB excl. THB300 daily park fee) for convenience. I takes 1,5h drive to get to Ratchprapa dam from where you go by long boat across the Cheow Lan lake for about 50min (c25km). Pretty scenic stuff from here.
25km boat ride across the lake + 7km jungle/cave hike
By 11:30 we stopped at the floating houses, enjoyed a swim in the (warm) sweet water lake and finally had lunch (the usual & fried fish directly from underneath your bottom so to say). From there its a few mins further by boat before the 3h (7km) jungle walk to the cave begins. Pretty slippery stuff. I went on my five finger vibrams, which was great in the cave but not in the jungle mud. Best rent some of the rubber shoes (THB50) at the lunch place.
What to take?
- Rubber boots (trainers, vibrams)
- Swim suit
- Camera (ideally water proof case)
- Sun screen
- Mosquito repellent (i was ok without)
- Dry bag as water is chest high in some places in the cave
- Head torch
- Light rain jacket (if getting wet on the 2x50min boat rides bothers you)
The cave is some 800m to walk and host to loads of spiders with shiny eyes once you point your torch on them. There are also plenty of bats – never i have seen them as close up. Cool. The stone formations are pretty average and getting through the cave not a huge physical challenyge though by no means a walk in the park. By 6.30pm i was back at the hostel. Nice day.
The end of the was a bit akin to the night before – this time not team Fulda, but team Kiel (Anna & Valentine) shared their stories and were patient enough to listen to mine. Good place this hostel here. Recommended.