19 October 2012

Trekking Khao Ra

Last weekend we stayed on the island for a change and wanted to go hiking in the mountains (or can you call them mountains? Hills?). No reason to start with the smaller ones, we thought, and chose Khao Ra, the highest peak on Koh Phangan. Well ok, to be fair, it's not so very high, only a bit over 600 metres over sea level. But still, the views would be awesome.

Half-way view

After some research on the Internet we noticed the severe lack of information on how to actually get there. The only info we got was to go to the Phaeng waterfall and hire a guide to take us to the mountain. We didn't really feel like taking a guide, though, and after stumbling upon a forum text from last year from a guy who had done the hike, we drew a crude map, bought 4 1,5 litre bottles of water (just enough) and 2 Snickers bars (would've been nice to have more) and set out to see what we would find.

As all the info on the route was not very helpful, I've decided to give you guys instructions on how to get there. Feel free to skip forward to the actual story if you're not planning to head this way and do the hike any time soon:

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So, as we live in Srithanu, here are the instructions on how to get from Srithanu village to the beginning of the path that'll take you up on the mountain:

Take a left (or right, depending where you're coming from) after the Center Pharmacy opposite 7/11. Drive until you reach a T-junction (after passing Agama yoga on the right hand side). Turn right, towards Thong Sala. Continue on the road for quite some time until you pass a lovely garden store on your left, then turn left from the next Y-junction (the right-turn would take you to Thong Sala).

Drive a longish way on a nice and wide road until you reach a T-junction. Turn right, go past the junction towards Koh Phangan hospital on your right, cross the bridge and take the small concrete road left BEFORE you pass the Phaeng waterfall sign on the left side of the road.

Drive until you reach an entrance to a tempel. Don't enter the tempel grounds but turn left. Follow the road until it turns to a dirt road, and then some (until you're sure you've missed the right junction). You will eventually see a sign for Khao Ra Bungalows. Take a right from the sign and drive until the end of the road. You'll see a small family garden and a clearing where you can leave your bike or if you're more adventurous, you can continue driving up the path for a while longer until you loose nerve or the road becomes unfit for a scooter. We left our bike here and continued on foot.

From here on the way is pretty straightforward: just follow the path upwards.
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Ok, then for the trek itself. Let me just tell you: it is not as hard as the other text we found lets you think. For one, we never had to climb on our hands and knees and we certainly didn't find the path at all hard to follow. I don't know if they've improved something or added more signs after the writer of the other text had done his trek, but we didn't even find the mentioned four junctions on the path where the other guy said he didn't know where to turn. I think the path had one offshoot to the right at some point, but as it seemed to go down and we wanted to go up, the choice wasn't really that hard.

So, what did we find? In the beginning of the jungle path there was a dam. Obviously the water was very low as the rain season is only starting, but it'd be interesting to visit a second time after it has been raining heavily.


After crossing the dam and following the jungle path for a while, we came onto a small vegetable farm. Very cool to see these as well, as we haven't seen so many farms or gardens at all.


There was a small house before the path entered the jungle proper. The dude has pretty amazing views from up there.


The jungle path made its way to some sweet viewpoints, but it was mainly what is says: a jungle path. Like I said, it wasn't hard to follow at all, and we didn't feel it to be particularly hard to climb. Yes, there were some spots where you had to use your balance, but I don't think you need to have any particular skills to be able to make this climb. Just a bit of tenacity and a lot of water (and something to eat). It's not even very hot in the jungle as it gets nicer and cooler the higher you get. And we were surprised that there were very little bugs/mosquitos/flies. Maybe the situation is different when the rain season really kicks in, but at least now we were left to climb alone.




After reaching the top we could safely say that yes, the climb was worth it. The views over Chaloklum are breathtaking. We happened to have a nice and bright day, but even on an overcast day I'd think the trip is worth making. We met another couple who'd done the hike on top, who told us that there is another viewpoint when you take the other jungle path from the top and turn right when you reach a junction, but the main view was way nicer.




The trek itself up to the top took us about two hours. We kept breaks and didn't rush it. The descent took 1,5 hours with one nice break on a cliff to admire the views. All in all, I really recommend taking the effort and climbing up there. We plan to check out some other mountains (and the waterfalls!) as well, but this was a nice beginning and the first chance to use our hiking boots :)

So here's some more photos from along the way. The butterflies here are simply amazing: there are sooo many different ones in all colours of the rainbow, and some of the are huge! I'm so grateful for my zoom objective <3







The next post will be about more normal things, as I haven't really been writing that much about our daily life here. So stay tuned!

6 comments:

  1. Thank you. Your description on how to get there, with some cross reference on my map, helped me find the start of the trail.

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    1. Oh I'm glad! Hope the view was still worth the trek <3 Missing the beautiful island...

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  2. Sounds like a great adventure. I was there last month and did a pretty amazing jungle trek to the Sanctuary via Stone Wall. http://www.fitlivinglifestyle.com/hiking-in-thailand-jungle-trek-on-koh-phangan/

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    1. Oh coolness, I'll have to check that out! :)

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