Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2 Days in pure nature - Khao Sok Lake Explorer

We got picked up at our hotel at 7.30 AM to go on a two days trip to the Khao Sok national park. We were about to spend the night at the Cheow Larn lake in a floating raft house.
khao sok, khao lak land discovery, lake, cheow larn lake, cheow lan lake

After a short stop at a viewpoint, we visited the headquarters of the national park. Here we were welcomed by a big, fat python snake which was relaxing in the foliage. That surely gave us our first jungle experience. The next stop was at a small local market where we shopped for the last time before we were moving towards the solitude. From a small landing place we got onto a long tail boat and experienced the incredible landscape of those million years old limestone formations for the first time. The most impressive part about those huge cliffs is the brought variety and great development of vegetation that is growing on the limestone.
khao sok, khao lak land discovery, overnight, lake, rafthouse,
khao sok, rafthouse, overnight, lake, limestone, landscape, khao lak land discovery, jungle, adventure, rafthouse, schwimmende bungalows 
The boat stopped and we had the possibility to cool down by jumping into the green and most inviting water. We climbed the cliff, jumped into the water, swam around and relaxed in the sun, before we continued towards our raft house. Shortly before we reached the accommodation, one spotted a few monkeys along the waterside. While watching the monkeys, it slowly started raining and only 2 minutes later, when we reached the raft house, it was pouring.

Therefore we did not reach all dry, but had the best atmosphere for our first lunch at the lake. Soon we realized that rain will be our background music for the next two days. But not only that the calm lake was troubled by straight raindrops that fell into the water, the vegetation that was heated up by the sun, cooled down because of the rain and mist raised and surrounded the limestone formations. That was a beautiful natural spectacle that we were able to witness over and over again.

Khao Sok Nationalpark, jungle, adventure, lake, cheow lan lake, khao sok, khao lak, mountains, limestoneWe realized that even that the rain was slightly cooling, the water temperature of the lake was still quite high and invited for a dip. One realized “it is not just raining from above; it is also raining from below, just like in Forest Gump”. So we spend the afternoon swimming and relaxing in front of our bamboo huts before we sat all together at the main hut to listen to some guitar play of the raft house owner. It was a very familial atmosphere and continued after dinner, when we sat on the floor, had some drinks and shared a few stories. A great surprise was the visit from a small fogy. At 11 PM the electric generator got switched off and the only light was given through a few small candles, we felt so close to nature than never before. Since it was still raining it was not possible to see a single star which is most probably the case when being in such a natural environment.

The next morning we woke up at 6.30 AM, grabbed some coffee and got onto our long tail boat to observe animals in the morning. Of cause it still rained so we did not see any. We only heard a hornbill but did not see one. I was quite disappointed about that, because that would have been my personal highlight. 

khao sok, nationalpark, cheow lan lake, khao lak land discovery, khao lak, jungle adventure, limestone mountains, weather, longtailboatAfter breakfast we decided to still go onto the promised jungle walk, even if the rain would probably still continue. After half an hour walk, we sat onto a bamboo raft and crossed the lake. We than entered an incredible cave with fascinating stalagmites and stalactites. For a while we switch off all our torches and cameras and experienced the pure darkness. I thought that it was absolutely dark at the lake the night before, but in this cave you could see absolutely nothing. I never thought that darkness could fascinate me that much. On our way back through the jungle, we met quite a cheeky monkey, sitting high up in the tree and throwing fruits at us.
khao sok nationalpark, khao lak land discovery, rafthouses, bambushĂĽtten, swimming huts, mountains, adventure, jungle, cave explorer, höhlenerkundung 
Back at the raft house, we showered, relaxed for a while, packed everything and enjoyed a last lunch in the lake atmosphere before we went back to the landing place. It were amazing two days with unforgettable impressions. The best part was living and experiencing the nature so closely and living only on basic supplements without much electricity, internet, hand phones or TV.

If you want to know more about our tours at Khao Sok National Park, please click here.

by Charlotte Franke

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Day at the stunning Similan Islands

This is a holiday just as you know it from a postcard. At 7 am we got picked up by a minibus at our hotel and drove to a small private harbor for about 20 minutes. Very relaxed, we had the possibility to enjoy a coffee while the tour guide explained to us how to behave on the boat and in the national park. He informed us about ever necessary security details that were important for the day. From the harbor we got on the speedboat which took us through the mangroves right into the Andaman Sea., similan, island, virgin, beach, white sand, crystalk clear water, sea turtle, speedboat, dolphins, snorkelling, diving, nationalpark, similan island nationalparkWith two engines of 450PS the drive itself was worth getting up early in the morning already. The boat jumped the waves while in front we were able to enjoy the first early sunbeams. However what was coming up was not to expect. Even our tour guide said that we were extremely lucky that day. Right next to our boat, two dolphins were suddenly jumping out of the water. First we saw only those two but after a while of observing the water we realized that there were 6 all together. They followed us for a while and we were able to take great pictures., similan, island, virgin, beach, white sand, crystalk clear water, sea turtle, speedboat, dolphins, snorkelling, diving, nationalpark, similan island nationalparkLittle by little the main land disappeared behind us and all around the boat was simply water. At the horizon the first island was vaguely recognizable but still mystically hidden in fog. As we came closer, the unexpected beauty of this impressive landscape became more visible to us. Right in front of the first amazing granite cliff we made our fist snorkel stop. The minute we stopped the engine a turtle came very close to our boat. After we all got into the water, the turtle followed us and it seemed like she told another turtle to welcome us, too. After a short time in the water we had two turtles that were sniffing us, which were just as curious about us as we were about them. For half an hour we were able to explore the fish world at this spot., similan, island, virgin, beach, white sand, crystalk clear water, sea turtle, speedboat, dolphins, snorkelling, diving, nationalpark, similan island nationalparkAfter the first impression we drove into the Donald Duck Bay, which got its name for the cliff formation right at the front, which looks like a duck head. The beach here was unbelievable. Well, if you imagine soft sand and add some white paint to it, you will probably come close to what the sand at this bay is like. The crystal-clear water that runs over the stunning sand adds up to its beauty. However there is not just sand but also granite cliffs. Huge rocks that look like they are put on each other with great care. Exactly this cliff we started to climb. On top of the rocks we had a stunning view across the bay and over the national park with its other islands. From the top it got even more obvious how crystal-clear the water is., similan, island, virgin, beach, white sand, crystalk clear water, sea turtle, speedboat, dolphins, snorkelling, diving, nationalpark, similan island nationalparkAfter a very relaxing stay at the beach we went back to the speedboat. We drove to the next island where we had lunch at the honeymoon bay. For lunch we had rice with three different dishes of fish and meat as well as one vegetable and watermelon for dessert. For lunch we sat at wooden tables, under large trees and were therefore well protected from the sun. After lunch we took a walk through the jungle towards the other side of the island. From huge holes at the tree roots we were able to see that the Chicken Crab lives here. Sadly we did not see any however the sizes of the holes were already enough for me.
At the other side of the island we found another beautiful beach. It is no surprise that the Thai princess owns a summer cottage over here. That is also the reason why this beach is called the Princess Bay. In slightly orange colored trees, flying foxes where hanging and protecting themselves from the sun. It was cute to look at, how they were hanging there upside down, stretching themselves once in a while., similan, island, virgin, beach, white sand, crystalk clear water, sea turtle, speedboat, dolphins, snorkelling, diving, nationalpark, similan island nationalparkAfter this stay, we continued our tour with the speed boat towards our next snorkel stop. A great amount of different corrals and even more different types of fish species that could not have been any more colorful, were present at this bay. Here again we had the chance to observe another turtle. It is very interesting so see how other fish embrace the turtle and look for its protection. Other guests even saw a moray, a water snake and squid. After that, we stop for another time. Here were many impressive fish species for us to be seen as well. Furthermore I now know who we have to thank for the amazing sand. I was able to observe the parrot fish while he was using the toilet so to say. This fish eats mainly seaweed and corrals and the leftovers are then the impressive sand. Not such a nice thought but even more interesting to observe.

On our way back, the water was very calm and the drive therefore very relaxed. At 5pm we reached back at Khao Lak. It surely was a great day.  

Want to experience the same great trip? For more information on the Similan islands tour, click here.

Charlotte Franke