The Geographic symbols of the South are the craggy limestone karsts that jut out of Phang-nga Bay. But the biggest one (almost 1, 000 meters tall) is in Surat Thani province’s Khao Sok National Park. Even more mesmerizing is the way that stalactites hang down like icicles from these limestone formations, and on one of the eco-sensitive canoe tours down here you paddle right under them.
Khao Sok, one of the South’s most legendary parks, is famous are its gorgeous rain forests populated by primates like pig-tail macaques, dusky languor, and white-hand gibbons. Wild pigs are also seen on a regular basic. From November to January, park-goers can marvel at the blossoming of the world’s biggest flower; the “Rafflesia Arnoldi” has a diameter of one meter and weights up to seven kilos.
Within the park’s perimeters, bird watchers will find their spirits soaring. For on almost every kayaking trip, you’ll spot several species of hornbills, such as Oriental-pied Hornbills, Black Hornbills, and Helmeted Hornbills.
Because the emphasis of these tours is on observing birds and beasts in their natural habitats, the kayaking in the park is considered a “soft adventure” perfect for both the young and the elderly, or the whole family. Tour operators like Paddle Asia are very conscious of the need to keep their tour groups small so as to minimize their impact on the environment, and to maximize the opportunity to spot as many creatures as possible.
To enhance your back-to-nature experience, the accommodation consists of a group of floating bungalows situated deep in the rain forest. These bungalows don’t have electricity, but the restaurant and toilets do.
At night, the most pleasurable pastime in all the national parks is admiring the star-encrusted sky and the tree-silhouetted jungle, while listening to the chatter of insects, and breathing in the moist, earthy smell of Mother Nature.
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