Trails

The Huai Kha Kaeng and Thungyai Naresun wildlife sanctuaries are conservation and protection areas. And as such it is not easy to get information about the areas, nor are they geared for casual visitors. But what is open to members of the public is well worth visiting in one of the country’s most well-preserved and remote forests.

Just to make sure you don’t get too excited, don’t expect too much of the hiking trails. Khao Hin Daeng is great and a good area to see wildlife (macaques, langurs, gibbons, deer; though most are very shy, and there are always lots of other wildlife tracks to find), but I am not too excited about the other trails that are open for visitors. But who knows, there is always the possibility that you have a sighting of a lifetime.

Last week it has rained a little, but not much. The river is still at a normal level.
Probably the best tip I can give is to make friends with the rangers. Might not always be easy if you’re visiting for the first time. But if you meet the right ones, they can be helpful. And you need luck not too many others are visiting. Even though the park sees very few visitors, even if there is just one other group and they have ‘booked’ the observation tower, you will have to change your plans. Plan ahead and discuss your plans with the rangers. I used to avoid that, but I’ve now learned it makes things much easier.
Enjoy your stay!

Officially, for visiting the watchtowers you will have to ask permission and get a ranger to accompany you (except for the third tower few hundred metres from the camp.).

So a visit to both towers is possible, but officially you need to ask on site at the HQ for permission; which seems to be very easy to get.

I should mention that as far as towers go, if you dont have a “golden ticket” your really only restricted to the tower at the Home of the Tiger trail. You can request access to Haw Nok Peung tower at the second gate guards (best if its the day before) and they will inform the Ranger there your coming. This seems quite simple a high percentage chance of them saying yes to you visiting. As I mentioned I was denied to drive to Haw Thon Peung and rightly so, you really will most likely need a 4×4 and probably a ranger to show you the way. The walk is 2.5 km, 30 minutes if you walk fast, or up to 1 hour if you stop to look at tracks. There also seems a strong chance you could also run into Elephants on this road, be advised. If you just “walk it” without permission like I did you are risking issues with the Ranger, but seeing the first 0.5 km the day before, one I was willing to take

The first tower, is open to anyone. It’s half way the Pong Chang Puak nature trail. It’s maybe wise to notify the rangers that you are there, especially for a late afternoon/ evening visit, though they told me you need to leave at 18:00.
The first evening I did not notify anybody and did not know of any restricting timing. I anyway decided to leave at 18:15 because it got too dark to see/ photograph, but exactly then the Banteng appeared. After 18:00 things tend to happen, at least that is my experience in Khao Yai as well with Gaur.

This morning arranged to visit the tower known as Haw Ton Peung to apply shade cloth.

It was surprisingly fast while it crossed the road near the little spirit house just after the Haw Nok Yung tower area ( when driving from the HQ in the direction of the park entrance gate.)

I still don’t know if the second tower is open for tourists or not. I guess one of these days I will ask, but anyway the road to get there is not great for my vehicle, a normal Toyota vigo. No high prerunner, just small tires (15inch I believe) and no 4×4. Even though it’s mostly hard sand, I still had quite a few situations when the wheels started slipping, but I made it.
You don’t want to get stuck there, not in the evening when you’re unlikely to get any help. It is an option to drive in there and just before a rather steep little stream crossing (most likely dry in most of the year) park your car. From there follow the track for a bit more than 1 km. At this crossing my license plate holder broke, because it hit the ground due to the angle of the climb on the way back when crossing the stream. If you have a vehicle with high clearance and preferably 4×4, it should be fine to continue.

There are no signs that entering is restricted, but I just get this feeling you’re not really supposed to enter. That’s why I haven’t asked, haha. I might be wrong. And even if I’m not wrong I guess when you make friends with the right people you might be able to go. I’ll update about this asap.
BTW It’s on this trail where I found the tiger pug marks. But on a tree just off the trail to the first tower I saw a big scratch that I reckon is tiger evidence as well.

Thon Peung road was pretty much clear all the way from the second gate parking lot, didnt show much of any sign of anyone driving it as of recent. There is a tree down about 200 meters before the tower but thats no real issue.

I took the left turn with the tree marked “33” before the second gate and within the first 100 meters there was a tree down, but with some simple work I was able to pass it (I think the rangers left it down for their “excuse”), the issue for my truck was the stream crossing about 1km down that road. Seemed that the bumps and water cut sides were a bit too risky so I turned around. I do think now I could have made it but I wasn’t knowledgeable at that time on how far I was away from the Thon Peung tower and wasnt interested in getting stuck.

I think you would be safe taking that 33 Tree left turn, crossing the stream and at that left turn 200 meters at the top (where 3 roads converge 200 meters after the stream) and parking there. I timed it to be a 15 min walk from that point to the tower. Also to note from the second parking lot, its a 30 min fast walk to Thon Peung tower, and 45 min-1 hour if your like me and get stuck looking at all the animal tracks accumulated in just one day between the rains (this road seems to be an animal highway).

BTW, a few days ago when walking the Home of The Tiger trail I found out there is a third tower. It’s just 200 – 300 meters walk from the camping area, and since this tower is on the most used, unrestricted trail of the park, for sure you’re allowed to visit this tower. Fresh elephant tracks, Banteng, Sambar, and wild boar can all be found, and when we passed again yesterday with the ranger he pointed out some tracks which he knew were left behind by Asiatic Black Bear. It had been digging in the ground right next to the wall of the toilet at the tower.

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