Guests of Our Jungle House that venture into the park on foot have a choice of two Khao Sok trails that they can follow from the National Park’s headquarters. Both trails offer a great insight into the natural wonders of the area but the wildlife experience on each of these trails is by no means the same. Because of this the expectations of the guest will determine which route would be best suited to meet those expectations.
Ton Gloy Trail
This is the Khao Sok trail that caters for the broader range of interests. The going is somewhat easier, with the first third of the trail consisting of relatively easy terrain along a very wide pathway. The result is that this is by far the more popular of the two trails, and so receives considerably more tourist traffic. Whilst this would not appeal to the individual that likes a more intimate and authentic nature experience, for those that like to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature but at the same time keep the jungle and all its creepy critters at arms length this is the better choice.
The forested trail follows the Sok River, and is characterized by a series of waterfalls, some rather insignificant, others more spectacular. There is no doubt, however, that all of them offer some very picturesque scenery, and are idyllic spots to while a way a part of the day. These more open areas are some of the better places to view wildlife, and this trail is certainly the better of the two for seeing a variety of animal life. With patience and due awareness many of the primates can be seen along this Khao Sok trail – long-tailed macaque, dusky langur, banded langur, and the agile and charismatic lar gibbon. Some of the larger bird species can be seen, with great hornbill,
helmeted hornbill and some of the large birds of prey being the more notable species to encounter. The trail also has a variety of reptile, amphibian and invertebrate life skulking in amongst the undergrowth.
Sip Et Chan Trail
This northern trail follows the course of a smaller tributary of the Sok River. The first kilometre is partly paved with walkways and steps to help negotiate the incredibly steep terrain. After this initial artificial start to the trail it becomes a lot more wild and feels more authentic, following animal trails along the bank of the river. As you near Sip Et Chan waterfall the trails crisscross the river, lending to some very aesthetic scenery. Along the trails the forest encroaches on all sides, creating a very intimate nature experience. This experience can be a little too intimate for some; leeches are commonplace here, especially during the wetter months.
As a result this Khao Sok trail gets far fewer people venturing out onto it, and this coupled with the wilder feel makes it perfect for the more avid naturalist that is willing to put up with a few hardships in order to get away from the crowds and really experience Khao Sok’s wilderness.
This person is duly rewarded with a fascinating wildlife experience. Despite being a more difficult trail to see the mammals, and in particular the primates, the diversity in the bird species that can be encountered along this trail more than makes up for it. Species such as the great Argus, bamboo woodpecker, great hornbill, orange-breasted trogon, banded pitta, black-and-yellow broadbill, green broadbill, chestnut-naped forktail and white-rumped shama have all been encountered along this trail in a single morning! Therefore those naturalists that are more interested in the feathered fauna would also find it worth their while to venture out here.
Try Both and Start Early!
If you have the time then why not venture out onto both of the trails. Some may be discouraged by the leech factor on the latter trail but in all honesty they pose more of a psychological barrier than to present any adverse health risks. Those that are able to overcome this will get to experience a very quiet, and picturesque corner of Khao Sok.
Whichever you choose, be sure to head out early. Far too many guests saunter out late in the morning after a sleep-in and leisurely breakfast, and expect all the wildlife to still be on display. Unless you’re incredibly lucky this will not be the case. The majority of animals do not like to rush around in the heat, and so will become active just after sunrise, and hide away in the more shady spots as the day heats up. If this is the time you enter the park you’re likely to be disappointed. Yes you are on holiday and need to relax but didn’t you come to Khao Sok to enjoy its rich and diverse wildlife? If this is the case then surely it would make a lot more sense to be out in the park at a time when you do get to enjoy it.
Words and text provided by Michael Clark, our resident naturalist and Guide Trainer.