Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dong Phaya Yen - Khao Yai Forest Complex - Nakhon Ratchasima

Dong Phaya Yen (Thai: ดงพญาเย็น, lit. Jungle of the Ice Lord) is a mountain range in central Thailand. Dong Phaya Yen is the southeastern extension of the Phetchabun mountains, dividing the Chao Phraya river valley of Central Thailand and the Khorat Plateau of the northeast. The mountain chain reaches a maximum altitude of 1,351 m above sea level at Khao Rom, its highest hill.
The range has a length of about 230 km. The southern arm of the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains is the Sankambeng range, that merges with the Dangrek Mountains on its eastern end. The mountains are drained to the north by several tributaries to the Mun River, while the south drains into the Prachinburi River.
Dong Phaya Yen was once known as Dong Phaya Fai or "Jungle of the Fire Lord" because this area was once the vast forest where malaria killed most travelers who dared to pass through the woods.
Much of the forest cover, however, was destroyed since the beginning of 20th century. Following the deforestation of the area, Vice King (Uparaja) Pinklao changed the name of the forest from Dong Phaya Fai to Dong Phaya Yen to imply that "the wild forest has been tamed".
Several national parks are located in the mountains. The most famous one is the Khao Yai National Park, which was the first national park of Thailand. Other parks are the Ta Phraya National Park at the boundary with Cambodia, the Thap Lan National Park, Pang Sida National Park, Phra Phutthachai National Park and the Dongyai Wildlife Sanctuary. Altogether 6155 km² are protected in these parks.
In 2005 the forests of the Dong Phaya Yen mountains were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name Dong Phaya Yen–Khao Yai Forest Complex.
Khao Yai National Park (Thai: เขาใหญ่) is a national park in Thailand. Khao Yai National Park is situated in the Sankambeng Mountain Range, the southern prolongation of the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains, at the southwestern boundary of the Khorat Plateau. This park lies largely in Nakhon Ratchasima Province (Khorat), but also includes parts of Saraburi, Prachinburi and Nakhon Nayok provinces.
The park is the second largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers, including evergreen forests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400 to 1000 m above sea level. There are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds like red junglefowl and green peafowl and 67 species of mammals, including Asiatic black bears, Asian elephants, gaur, tigers, gibbons, Indian sambar deer, crab-eating macaque, Indian muntjac, dholes, and wild pigs. Its waterfalls include the 80 metre Heo Narok, and Heo Suwat made famous from the film The Beach. Namtok Sarika is popular with the Thais.
Recent wildlife studies show that animal ranges, particularly the few resident tigers, are impacted by human activity near the center of the park. This study has not impacted the government's call for private lodging concessions within the park itself.
About a century ago the Ban Tha Dan people and the Baan Tachal people in the Nakhon Nayok Province to the south of Khao Yai built a settlement within the forest. Up to 30 households cultivated the land. The area was formally recognized by the government and classified as a sub-district known as Pak Ple.
However, due to its location and distance from authorities it became a refuge for criminals and fugitives. In an attempt to capture the fugitives the areas sub-district status was cancelled, and the villages relocated into the plains some 30 km away.
In 1959 the Prime Minister of Thailand, Marshall Sarit Thanarat, Coordinated the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Interior to create a process where national parks could be established. Khao Yai National Park was then established on September 18, 1962, declared by royal proclamation in the Government Gazette (Book 79, Section 89) as the first National Park in Thailand. A major role in its establishment was received by Boonsong Lekakul, one of the 20th century's most famous conservationists in Thailand.
In 1984 the park was made an ASEAN Heritage Park, and on July 14, 2005 the park together with other parks in the Dong Phaya Yen mountains was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Dong Phaya Yen–Khao Yai Forest Complex.
Lands adjacent to the national park are becoming increasingly developed into luxury hotels and golf courses for weekending visitors from Bangkok. Such development limits wildlife corridors and permanently reduces future conservation and land acquisition ability.
Khao Yai National Park has three main seasons, with an annual mean temperature of 23 degrees celsius, though this varies greatly with the seasons.
Rainy Season Is from May to October. During this season most days have high rates of precipitation. The atmosphere is humid with average temperatures of 27 degrees celsius during the day dropping to 13 degrees celsius at night. Good waterfalls for travelers.
Cold season Is from November to February. Clear skies, sunny and cool. Average temperatures of 22 degrees celsius during the day and 10 degrees celsius at night. Good time for hiking.
Hot Season Is from March to April. Humid with day temperatures of 20-30 degrees celsius and 17 degrees celsius at night.
Limestones are present along the Dong Rek range. Sandstones outcrop in the south and north of the park. Shales and schist are also present. In the South, steep slopes made of granite and conglomerates can be seen.
There are four drainage areas in the park which are vital catchments for four river systems. The Takhong River drains from the central Khao Yai area and runs in a North-Easterly direction into the Mekong. The Sai Yai system drains from the Eastern Basin, turning sharply into the Southern Floodplains and on to the Gulf of Thailand. The Nakhon Nayok river system drains from the South-West watershed into the Nakhon Nayok Province to the South. The Saraburi Province drainage system drains Westward from the far West of the Khao Yai.
The park is often visited by travelers from Isan, Bangkok and beyond. The fee (per day) is 500 baht for foreigners (200 for children), and 50 for Thais.
  • Food is available from private concessions within the park.
  • Bicycles are available for hire from the park. Ask at the visitors center and they will direct you.
  • Kayaking and rafting services are also available.
  • Night-time "wildlife spotlighting" is available via pick-up trucks in the early evening. Animals sighted usually are limited to deer and civet cats, and only rarely include elephants.
  • Slide shows at the visitors center are available on weekends and public holidays at 10:00am, 14:00pm and 16:00pm.
  • Meeting rooms are available with audiovisual equipment for seminars and workshops.
  • Camping is permitted in camping zones. You may bring your own tent or hire one at the camping ground.
  • Lodges and cabins are available for singles and groups. Reservations are required.
  • There are over 50 km of hiking trails. From easy to hard, one hour to three days. There trails on the map from the visitors center will only have the easier trails. Maps do come with English instructions. A guide is recommended for most trails if the tourist has no experience.
  • Kayaking and rafting.
  • Night time wildlife spotlighting.
  • Observation towers at Nong Pak Chee or Mo Sing. Early morning is the best time to view the Great Hornbills, guar, and sometimes elephants. Gibbons are most active in the early morning.
  • At about 5:30 at night thousands of wrinkled lipped bats emerge from a cave 3 km outside the northern gate to begin night time feeding. The bats fly in a ribbon pattern across the sky.
  • Klong Pa Kang-Wang Haew-Dinosaur Footprint. Four day trek to see a dinosaur footprint!
  • Haew Narok Waterfall - The Haew Narok waterfalls are the largest waterfalls in the park. It is a three tiered structure that extends 150 meters from the top tier to the basal lake. The waterfall is located about 10 kilometers from the south gate along the central road through Khao Yai.
  • Haew Suwat Waterfalls - This waterfall runs over a 20 meter cliff into a large pool below. It is located to the about 8 km east of the visitors center and can be visited easily by car along one of the main easterly roads. It can also be reached by a 8 km hike from the visitors center (walk number 4) which takes about 4–7 hours. It is made up mainly of multiple layers of sandstone conglomerates with large interbeds of basalt.
  • Haew Sai Waterfalls - Haew Sai Waterfalls are located a 700 meters north of the Haew Suwat Waterfalls. It is 8 km east of the visitors centre and can also be reached vias car or by hike.
  • Haew Pratoon Waterfalls - Smaller waterfall that is about 1 km north of Haew Sai waterfall.
Haew Suwat in Rainy season

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khao_Yai_National_Park,      
Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Khao_Yai_National_Park


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