Αρχεία κατηγοριών: Ταϊλάνδη Πράσινη Ταξίδια

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The hidden giant

TAK PROVINCE. A weekend at Thi Lo Su may make you come
home drained of energy, but with piles of spectacular photos and
fun memories.

Visitors must steel themselves right from the start. The ‘Sky Highway
1090’ winds from Mae Sot to Umphang through a mountainous region
inhabited by hill tribes. Its 1,219 sharp curves, zigzagging through
lush, forested landscapes, have churned many stomachs. After four
ώρες, visitors arrive in Umphang, the biggest district in Thailand,
sharing a 180 km border with Myanmar. It used to be inhabited solely
by the Karen people, prior to Thais moving in from the North. Now, it
is a hub of accommodation and tour operators organizing trips to the
majestic Thi Lo Su Waterfall.

Thi Lo Su is beautiful in her many guises. During the rainy season,
visitors will be awed by the sight of an endless line of mighty water
crashing down 300 m onto the rocks below. In the dry season, the
gigantic waterfall spanning 500 m turns into numerous small cascades
separated by mossed rocks and trees, making it appear as a
patchwork of verdant gardens.

Thi Lo Su is the star of the Wildlife Sanctuary, but its sister waterfall,
Thi Lo Cho, should not be missed. To fully explore the area, a three-day
tour is recommended. A typical programme will combine rafting on the
Mae Klong River; visits to Thi Lo Su and Thi Lo Cho Falls; some trekking;
and, upon request, stays in Karen villages, and total forest immersion
via elephant back. However, it should be noted that the likelihood of
seeing large animals during any of these activities is low. Also, trekkers
should bring mosquito repellant and antimalarial medication

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Doi Pha Klong

A geological feast

PHRAE PROVINCE. Doi Pha Klong National Park may not be the greenest place to visit. Those that do will not be protected from the sun by a lush canopy, and their skin will become sticky from humidity. The geography here is comprised mostly of limestone and dry evergreen forests of thorny trees with small leaves. They combine to create a curiously beautiful landscape, the charm of Doi Pha Klong.


On arrival at the park headquarters, especially in the early morning or late afternoon, visitors will be greeted by a cacophony of bird calls. There is a 1.2-km nature trail along which to explore the flora and fauna of the dry evergreen forest. The beginning of the trail, paved with concrete blocks, boasts oddly, but naturally, sculpted trees with entangling vines. Along the trail as a whole, the most predominant plant species is the firework-shaped Dracaena sp.


Although the trail is short, trekkers are mercilessly exposed to the sun. ο
informative and friendly rangers therefore warn visitors to take lots of water
before setting out on the trek. The climb can be tough at some points, with
sharp-edged rocks, but the path is well-defined, including intervals of wooden steps. After a good measure of sweating, one finally arrives at Hin Pakarang, a large, wondrously-shaped limestone hill peppered with bright green shrubs.

The Park encompasses an area of 125 km2, covering a diverse range of
geography and activities. About 60 km from the headquarters lies Kaeng
Luang, a series of rapids in the Yom River. These provide a 10-km
rafting route, though the river is best experienced in November or December.


Visitors can also stop over at Erawan Cave to enjoy the stalagmites and
stalactites, including those resembling a mythical three-headed elephant,
from which the cave takes its name. Opportunities also exist to rappel down
a 70-m cliff. To arrange an adventure trip, contact the Park headquarters

Doi Phu Kha

Botanist’s paradise

NAN PROVINCE. Doi Phu Kha National Park is a great
destination for those wanting to combine laid-back relaxation
with moderate exploration of nature. Visitors will notice that the
landscape has been groomed and altered to receive guests. That
said, it does not mean they will not get a high dose of nature within
the Park.


Beginning with the journey up the mountain from Pua district,
visitors will see that large patches of forest on the slope of the hills
have been turned into fruit orchards, namely for lychee. The sight
may not be the best introduction, but on arrival in the Park area, it is
a relief to find that most of its forest remains intact.
Take time to view the exhibition in the Visitor Centre. Here, guests
will learn that besides the star attraction, Chomphu Phu Kha
flowers, there is also a chance to see a living fossil, Caryota gigas.
Also known as Hahn ex Hodel, or Tao Rang Yak in Thai, this giant
palm has a height of 40 m and is endemic to the area. The Park also
offers the possibility of spotting a myriad of wild animals, ranging from
rare birds (the most remarkable one being Sitta formosa) deer, and
gibbons to bears, wild elephants, or even tigers.

Something for Everyone
For those content with lovely strolls through the woods, there are two nature trails near the Park headquarters to enjoy. The small trail is 2 km long; the longer one is 4 km, both winding through a forest of Kesiya, or three-needled, pine, whose fallen needles provide a soft brown carpet over the paths as they lead to Chomphu Phu Kha and Tao Rang Yak groves. The trails are sufficiently well-defined, but the Park recommends visitors be accompanied by a ranger. Trekking should be avoided during the rainy season, as leeches are quite brutal.

Doi Phu Kha offers other activities the whole year round. From August
to December, the river Nam Wa, with its 20 rapids, provides good
rafting (contact the Visitor Centre to arrange a trip). Bird and butterfly
lovers should visit between November and June. During February and
March, the forest will be tinted with the pink blossoms of Chomphu
Phu Kha. There are also a number of caves and waterfalls that can be
explored from October to May.

For more sedentary travellers, the Park provides comfortable and
aesthetically pleasing accommodation. The smallest options are
made from old carts and bamboo, with thatched roofs. Bigger
bungalows perch on a small hill to enjoy a panoramic view of
the mountain range. Alternatively, a tent can be pitched in the
campground to enjoy stargazing. To wrap up the day, the Park also
provides a pavilion to observe the sunset over the hill-lined horizon.

Doi Chiang Dao

The guardian spirits of Chiang

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE. Chiang Dao was in the media
limelight during 2003, when the government came up with
a plan to builzd a cable car to the peak to boost tourism. The proposal
met with unprecedented and widespread protest from both locals and
environmental activists. Ευτυχώς, the plan was not carried out.
Doi Chiang Dao (under the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary’s care) is
the third highest peak, and the only place where a sub-alpine
ecosystem can be found in Thailand. Its height is 2,225 m above
sea level, making a dramatic rise on the horizon when viewed on
entering the district by Highway 107. The horseshoe-shaped
mountain range of which it forms a part is home to more than
340 species of wildlife, of which some 206 are birds, including the
near-extinct Hume’s Pheasant (Symaticus humiae, found only
here and in Pai). It is also the only home in the world to the newly
discovered orchid Sirindhornia pulchella, as well as approximately
110 other orchid species.

Doi Chiang Dao also holds spiritual significance for the people
of Chiang Mai. The mountain is believed to be the abode of Chao
Luang Kham Daeng, the spirit revered by all spirits and ghosts. There
are two routes to get to the peak of Doi Luang Chiang Daothe Pang
Wua trail and the Den Ya Khat trail.

The Mountain of the Gods
The starting points of the two trailsare about 30 minutes and 1 hour away from the headquarters, respectively. There are camping sites on both trails, but the second one is longer, steeper, and thus more adventurous. The two trails converge mid-hill, and four more hours of walking will lead to Mae Salung, the last camping site before the top. From the Mae Salung camping site, a final 45-minute climb (225 m of rocky, limestone trail) is required to get to the windy top, where there is no water source but plenty of wildflowers.

Trekkers normally spend two nights before following the downward
trail back to the headquarters, and must provide their own tents, food,
and water for the whole trip.

It must be emphasised that Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary is devoted
strictly to conservation; tourism is second on the agenda. That is
why the Sanctuary is open for trekking only from 1st November
to 31st March, and is suitable only for highly-devoted nature
enthusiasts. For others still wanting to get a glimpse of its glory, there
is a 2-km nature trail, at the foot of the mountain, accessible all year
round. No guide is needed, but during the rainy season, the path is
often concealed by tall grass.


Doi Inthanon

The rooftop of Thailand

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE. Here are a few of the many reasons
why one should visit Doi Inthanon National Park: the eponymous
peak is the highest in Thailand; the Park includes 1,274 plant
species, 90 of which are orchids (31 of which are found uniquely
there); and the area is home to 466 animal species, 385 of those
being birds (including the Green-tailed Sunbird).

Besides being rich in floral and faunal life, the Park is dotted with
a number of waterfalls of various sizes.

Doi Inthanon has something for everyone, whether day-trippers
or those planning to thoroughly explore the Park. The day might
be filled with a visit to the highest point in Thailand, which can
be reached by car, and is clouded with mist all year round, the
temperature never exceeding 17º C. This may be followed with a
30-minute walk along the nearby Ang Ka nature trail. The neat,
elevated wooden platform with railings leads through the moss
covered forest, where mixed plant-societies on single trees can
be observed.

Toward the end of the trail, there is a path leading to the shrine
of Chao Krom Kiat. The small spirit pavilion is built on a piece
of helicopter wreckage as a memorial to Air Chief Marshal Kiat
Mangkhlapruek and the late national park director who died on
duty in a crash at that spot in May 1971.

The rest of the day might be spent touring the waterfalls. The most
enchanting are Wachirathan, Mae Klang, and Mae Ya. These
falls are easy to access by car, with trails leading up to different
levels. Picnic areas and restaurants are available. The first two falls
are on the same road after the first checkpoint; only Mae Ya stands
alone south of the main national park area, on the 14 km road
that branches off Highway 1009 and meanders through a
residential area.

A Whole Day Trekking
Doi Inthanon also offers an array of treks. Most treks run all year round, and only a few routes require a ranger or local guide (contact National Park Headquarters at Km. 31 for information and arrangements). One of the most interesting routes is the Kio Mae Pan trail, which is open only from 1 June to 31 Οκτώβριος, as its fragile ecosystem needs more time to recover than most. The distance of this circular trek is only 3 km, but discerning trekkers may take a whole day to complete it.

Bird lovers should not forget to pack binoculars, and should try to
visit between October and March. If an English speaking guide is
required, just cross the street from the Park Headquarters to the
Inthanon Bird Centre. The Centre has been there since 1962; its
customer service attested to by walls lined with name cards from
satisfied clients.