Hiking is one of the best ways to truly experience and appreciate the wonders of nature. Not only does it keep you physically fit, it helps to reduce anxiety and stress and with no carbon emissions, or destructive vehicles, it is the most environmentally friendly, peaceful and non-intrusive way to travel.
Khao Sok National Park is one of Thailand’s best places to hike and experience a real rainforest environment. Covering an area of 739 km² that includes the 165 km² Cheow Lan Lake, its stunning limestone karst topography and lush tropical jungle offers a number of different trails to waterfalls, caves and stunning viewpoints, as well as opportunities to spot its abundant wildlife.
At Anurak Community Lodge, which lies on the edge of Khao Sok National Park, we offer a whole range of responsible outdoor activities – including hiking – for travelers who want to explore and appreciate Khao Sok’s pristine biodiversity in a sustainable and responsible way.
Through all of our endeavours we aim to support the local community, not only by employing local staff but also by using local suppliers and assisting in the development of sustainable businesses. Our guides are therefore all hired locally, and have a wealth of knowledge to guide you along the trails to some of the lesser-known areas of Khao Sok where you won’t meet a soul.
While it is possible to explore Khao Sok independently on several shorter trails at the park’s main entrance, it’s a general requirement that travelers must be accompanied by a guide. This is not only to protect the park’s habitat, but also for the safety of hikers.
Whether you decide to explore Khao Sok with us at Anurak, or follow one of the shorter trails independently, here are a few tips on how to hike responsibly and reduce your impact on the wonderful nature surrounding you.
1. Go Local
Hiring locally ensures that your tourist dollars go directly back into the community. The guides we work with at Anurak all come from villages in the immediate area, thus ensuring their earnings go directly towards feeding their families and supporting the local economy.
Many of the local guides were once local hunters or farmers, and can offer hikers in-depth local knowledge of the park, its inhabitants, and its history. But more importantly, employing them means we are also able to help change the local community’s mindset by demonstrating that responsible tourism practices can be a viable source of income and replacement for unsustainable hunting and farming practices.
2. Carry Your Trash In and Out
This may seem obvious to some, but it’s important to bring back anything you take with you on your hike. The most apparent items are food wrappers and plastic water bottles (if you don’t have a refillable one), but toilet paper is another not to be forgotten.
On longer hikes, you may well need to hide behind a bush or tree, so remember to bring disposable toilet paper with you. Make sure you bury or cover up any waste to avoid attracting animals or polluting the area. If you don’t have disposable toilet paper another option is to use a sealable bag, and simply carry it to the next available disposal point.
3. Stick to the Trail
Hiking trails in Khao Sok are usually well-trodden routes developed by locals to offer the best vantage points for showcasing the diversity of the landscape and its views. Leaving the trail could lead to you disturbing the habitat of local wildlife, or the nesting grounds of birds. It’s also important for your own safety, especially if you are following a trail independently. Once you leave a trail, you may become disorientated. Even if you are only meters from the path it’s still easy to get lost in the ancient wilderness of Khao Sok.
4. Food and (Not) Feeding the Wildlife
While you’re hiking you burn a lot of energy, so you’ll be surprised at how hungry you can get. Light, easy-to-carry snacks with lots of protein are best – snacks such as nuts, energy bars and trail mixes are ideal. However, it’s important not to share your food with any local wildlife that might be attracted to your meal.
No matter how adorable the baby monkey is, or how cute and fluffy the squirrel is, you should never feed them. Wild animals can become reliant on hand feeding and when they don’t get what they want, they can sometimes be aggressive. Feeding them can also lead to a breakdown in the food chain, which could have detrimental effects on the local wildlife.
5. Plan your Water Needs
Making sure you plan for enough water is especially important when you are hiking independently. Even if the hiking trail is only a few hours long, remember you have to come back too. Do your research on water availability along the route. You can also check with the park authority, as there may well be designated points where you can fill up. Use refillable bottles rather than single-use plastic bottles, which have become a major waste problem in many areas. For longer hikes with a guide, it might be necessary to invest in water treatment tablets. Check with your guide, as he or she will be able to give you the best advice.
If you’re itching to explore the hiking trails in Khao Sok, either independently or with one of our experienced local guides, and come face-to-face with the true wonders of nature, book your stay with us at Anurak Community Lodge.