The majestic limestone karsts tell tales of hundreds of millions of years of geological transformation. The steep cliff, colored red, white and black, is partly vegetated by jungle trees - leaving one to wonder how the trees get hold of soil to nurture their roots. As we get closer to Klong Mon, in the north west of Cheow Larn lake, the landscape changes from vertical to more horizontal. With the lower lands, the banks of the lake transition almost smoothly into deep jungle, providing welcoming grazing places for wildlife such as sambar deer, wild pigs and wild ox.

Approaching the rafthouses, hornbills fly over the lake and the boat driver slows down. The rafthouse invites for a swim in the lake followed by a delicious lunch.

At 2pm our group head out for the jungle hike - walking upstream a small river. Within the first 10 minutes our hike guide, a national park ranger, points at a huge pile of scat - massive round footsteps right next to it… we needed no translation for the Thai word "chang". The ranger was alert with all his senses, but did not perceive any nearing danger - so we continued to head upstream. We found more elephant traces along the path and learned that wherever there is wildlife, there are leeches as well. Any creature who walks in these wilds also chooses to keep company with leeches. A fascinating hike through the jungle – truly remote.

We came out of the jungle just in time for an evening wildlife safari by boat, immersed in the color spectacle of lake sunsets. Wildlife highlights were numbers of hornbills and a wild ox. Upon our return to the rafthouse the bright moon rose over the mountains and covered the landscape in a dark but soft blue.

The early morning mist greeted us ethereally as the sun started to spread its light over the horizon. Gibbon calls echoed from mountains across the lake as we shared breakfast and coffee. The morning was spent taking in the wildlife from a boat as we headed to Cheow Larn lake's northernmost tributary - Klong Seng Wildlife Sanctuary. Leaving the jagged limestone peaks behind, we found ourselves in the jungle hills. Our wild life spectacles included samba deer, many wild pigs, different hornbill species and Gibbons. As we reached our lunch-destination, the raft house at Klong Seng, we were told that a wild elephant visited the area this morning. Enjoying the ride back to pier, I found myself thinking about all the beautiful scenery, lights, plants and the different animal species we saw and I am sure, I have to come back again.

Bodhi Garret
Bodhi Garret Bodhi and his family have made Thailand and Khao Sok National Park their home for more than a decade.