The national park is home to over 300 different bird species, including the white-throated kingfisher And thanks to them, thrive it does. Treetops shake with monkeys and birds, winged lizards bounce from branch to rock, and sky-high bamboo stalks bathe everything in a stripey green light.

Wildlife watching

 

Some tour companies and websites advertise Khao Sok as a popular destination to see tigers. There have been tigers in Khao Sok, there may still be a smaller population deep inside the inaccessible areas, but no one has seen one in the park for decades, not even camera trapped. Most advertising about wildlife watching should be taken with a pinch of salt.

The park has some of the most exciting mammal species found in Thailand, but it is very rare to see any around the popular touristy areas. Chance to see mammals are bigger along some of the trails in Khao Sok Lake. There are few trails where elephants and gaurs can be seen sometimes.

Around the headquarters long-tail macaques and banded-langurs are common. Sometimes boars or deer may show up on the trails. Magical calls of the gibbons may be heard from the hotels near the national park in the morning.

The entire park is a great place to find reptile and amphibian species. Many of Thailand’s exciting lizard, snake and amphibian species can be found along the trails to the waterfalls. Best time to find the reptiles and amphibians is during the evening.

WILD THAILAND: EXPLORING KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
WILD THAILAND: EXPLORING KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK

Some say the biodiversity of Khao Sok exceeds that of the Amazon. Most agree that at over 160 million years old, the evergreen rainforest here is one of the oldest in the world. Whichever list it tops, the fact this 738-sq-km expanse of national park exists at all in its current state – alive with whooping gibbons, flashing hornbills and with such richness of flora and fauna that an entomologist on honeymoon once picked up a rock and discovered a new species – is something to be grateful for. And this biodiversity haven owes a few thanks to an unexpected twist of fate.

A white-throated kingfisher perched on a branch in Khao Sok National Park 


The national park is home to over 300 different bird species, including the white-throated kingfisher And thanks to them, thrive it does. Treetops shake with monkeys and birds, winged lizards bounce from branch to rock, and sky-high bamboo stalks bathe everything in a stripey green light.

Located inland between the Andaman and Gulf coasts, Khao Sok is often overlooked by travellers in favour of southern Thailand’s coastal resorts and islands. But for anyone wishing to swap beach beats for tranquil jungle trails, lake swimming, cool bat-filled caves and the chance to spot a wealth of indigenous species in their natural habitat, this secret garden is an easy getaway.

Swinging gibbons and tarantula nests: jungle trekking


Just being in the park means coming face to face with nature, but the best way to experience Khao Sok’s wild bounty is on a guided jungle trek. It is possible to trek independently and trails from the park headquarters are well-maintained and easy-to-follow, but the knowledge of the local guides will enhance your trip ten-fold. They’ll point out the woven funnel of a tarantula nest or the scratches on a tree made by a Malayan sun bear, and will give lessons on the jungle’s medicinal plants and birdsong.

Most of the big mammals in the park – wild elephants, sun bears, clouded leopards and tigers – will remain elusive to trekkers, but the cracking of jackfruit should soon alert you to the presence of primates. Long-tailed macaques are an almost guaranteed sight, with troupes making bold acrobatic displays right on the trail. White-handed gibbons and spectacled langurs are a rarer and more rewarding spot. Gibbons stick to the high branches making long, Tarzan-like swings through the trees; a joy to behold. Gaurs, tapirs and barking deer can sometimes be seen or heard, especially in the wet season (June to October).

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Go On A Safari Boat Ride
Around Cheow Lan Lake

Most of the overnight tours of Cheow Lan Lake will include a safari boat ride where you would go around the lake, spotting all kinds of animals from wild buffalos to the Great Hornbill.

They will take you twice on a safari ride, once in the evening and another in the early morning when the forest is most alive. The morning safari ride is when you will see the most wildlife. We saw a couple of monkeys, great hornbills, wild buffalos, and wild boars. It was an unmissable experience.

Wild buffalos in Khao Sok

If you are spending a night or more at Cheow Lan Lake, be sure to go on these morning safari tours. You never know what you might see in the forest. Apparently, somewhere in the national park, wild elephants and the elusive tapirs still roam free and my god, the things I would give to see tapirs with my own eyes for once!