in 1962, its 2,168 square kilometres embrace one of the continent's
largest remaining ram forests. Its slopes are covered by three
types of evergreen forest including the mountain or hill evergreen
forest which contains cool climate species like oaks, chestnuts,
Areas cut by homesteading farmers in the 1930s are now covered
in elephant and lalang grasses which provide unrivalled opportunities
to observe sambar and barking deer. Most wild animal species
living in Thailand are found in Khao Yai. The mammals most
commonly seen are barking deer, sambar, civets, pig-tailed
macaque and white-handed gibbon...
click on the map.
Thailand's largest herds of wild elephants roams the jungle
and crosses its roads. At night, the mammoth beasts often
forage in the woods and bamboo groves along the road. Tigers
civets, and leopard cats are also often seen along the roads
at night. Heard more often than seen are white-handed gibbons
and, in the east, pileated gibbons. Tiger tracks can be spotted,
often only a short distance from the headquarters. Other park
inhabitants are shrews, bats, Asiatic black bears, Malayan
sun bears, pig-tailed macaques, slow loris, wild dogs, fishing
cats, hog badgers, several kinds of civets, binturong, leopard
cats, mouse deer, gaur, serow, giant black squirrels, clouded
leopards, leopards, marbled cats, giant porcupines, and hares.
Reticulated pythons, Siamese cobras, green tree vipers, monitor
lizards, skinks, flying Draco lizards and other reptiles are
often seen as are frogs and other amphibians.
Khao Yai holds about 320 bird species, and is the best place
to spot undisturbed forest species of the middle elevations
including four species of hornbill (including the giant, great
and wreathed hornbills), five species of barbets, two trogons,
four broadbills, several pitas, mountain imperial pigeon,
emerald dove, mountain scope owl, forest eagle owl, the tiny
collared owlet, blue-winged leaf bird, Asian fairy bluebird,
racket-tailed drongos, the lovely green magpie, three species
of laughing thrush and many types of bulbuls. Khao Yai also
has many silver pheasants, scaly breasted partridges and some
Siamese fire back pheasants. The diminutive green hanging
parrot can be heard flying overhead more easily than it can
be seen. Near the rivers and ponds one may find white-throated
kingfisher and along roads and clearings the gorgeous wild
red jungle fowl, the progenitor of the domestic chicken.
Both tropical and temperate trees grow on the fertile hills
as do a wide variety of flowers including wild orchids.
WHAT TO DO?
The Kong Kaew Nature Trail, which begins
behind the Visitor's Centre, introduces the hiker to the
flora of Khao Yai. It can be walked comfortably in a half
hour along a trail that crosses a swinging bridge, runs
along the riverbank and passes Kong Kaew Waterfall. The
Mo Singto trail is short but rich with tropical plants.
It begins across the road from the park headquarters and
runs through evergreen forest for about one kilometre. On
the trail one may see deer, birds, gibbons and, possibly,
bear. Begin the trail to Nong Pakchi at the same place but,
at the intersection mentioned above, continue straight along
the ridge before curving to the right. Just beyond Wang
Jampee it crosses the Lam Takhong River, which may require
a knee-deep wade. It then emerges from the jungle to climb
a thickly-grassed hill to the Nong Pakchi watchtower, which
provides a spectacular view of animals and the surrounding
countryside. Return to the main park road via a one kilometer
dirt road, turn right and two kilometers later arrive at
the headquarters.Two salt licks near the viewpoint at KM
30 are frequented by elephants. It is also a good observation
point for hornbills and other birds. Khao Yai is filled
with forty-four waterfalls that flow copiously in the rainy
season. Haew Narok (Heu Waterfall), the largest, drops 150
meters in three stages, the tallest being 60 meters.