Khao Yai was the first National Park created in Thailand. It covers an area of 2,168 square kilometres of forest and grassland and together with some surrounding protected areas form the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex World Heritage Site which provides habitat for another impressive array of wild creatures.
The morning mist, the splendour of the scenery, the certainty of seeing at least some of the wildlife and the fact that it’s just a three hour drive from the outskirts of Bangkok ensure that it is a well visited park. Weekends and holidays are best avoided, but if you have an interest in wildlife a visit at some stage is an absolute must. The Rockjumper birding tour I was on spent two full days in the park. Longer would be better, wouldn’t it always. If you are visiting independently here are a couple of resources that might help, thainationalparks.com and thaibirding.com.
Birding highlights included Silver Pheasant, Blue and Eared Pitta, Vernal Hanging Parrot, various Barbets, Woodpeckers, nightjars and the Collared Owlet. A few birds were happy to pose …
Mammals that we encountered included Black Giant and Variable Squirrels, Muntjac and Sambar Deer. The Sambar are unphased by the photographer’s close approach.
Pig-tailed Macaques are a certainty, Gibbons much less so. There are two species present – Pileated, which we heard and White-handed which we were lucky enough to see.
This guy was accompanied by his wife and baby. The females are brown, the babies, of course, are adorable.
No matter how big you are a few metres into the forest and you’re virtually invisible. Last time I was on foot this close to an elephant I was running for my life (and Asian Elephants deserve the same respect that African ones do). However half a dozen people had already walked past it without it showing any sign of irritation and, in the forest, I was virtually invisible too … I hoped.