Close to nature

A boat ride through mangrove forests in Prachuap Khiri Khan provides glimpses of nature and solace of mind

Klong Khao Daeng.

Prachuap Khiri Khan province is well-known for its beautiful resort town Hua Hin and many natural attractions, including two national parks. The Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is home to the famous Phraya Nakhon Cave visited by King Rama V, but not many people know Klong Khao Daeng, a nature-study area with the breathtaking views of limestone mountains and mangrove forests.

Situated in Kui Buri district — over 250km from Bangkok, 67km from Hua Hin — this 4km stream runs deep into mangroves at one end while its mouth is where the flows of freshwater and seawater meet. The forests are the habitat of various kinds of plants like samae thalay (grey mangrove), kongkang bai lek (true mangrove), kongkang bai yai (red mangrove) and chakhram (herbaceous seepweed). They are also home to a variety of birds, including the common kingfisher, the black-capped kingfisher, the collared kingfisher, the little heron, the little egret and the Javan pond-heron.

Wanna Phetpradab, forest ranger of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, which oversees Klong Khao Daeng, said tourists can board boats from the pier of Wat Khao Daeng in Khao Daeng Village which is part of the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Each boat can accommodate up to six persons and be hired for 500 baht per trip.

A rock in the shape of a monkey’s face.

“All passengers must wear life vests. Each boat ride takes about an hour along the canal. Tourists will be able to see rocks in bizarre shapes, such as that of a crocodile. The highlight is a red cliff from which the name Klong Khao Daeng is derived. If the tide is low, tourists can see various kinds of animals, including pla teen [mudskippers], pu kam dab [fiddler crabs] and ling samae [the crab-eating macaque],” she noted.

Pla teen and pu kam dab (fiddler crabs) are among the six indicators of the abundance of mangroves besides the collared kingfisher (nok kin pieo), snapping shrimp (kung deed khan), mud creeper (hoi khika) and oysters (hoi nangrom).

The best time for a boat ride is around 4.30-5pm, because the heat of the day cools down and tourists can also enjoy the stunning views and take photos of the sunset. After passing the rocks and mangroves, the boats will make a U-turn, head to the mouth of the canal past Khao Daeng fishing village and many fishing boats, and then return to the pier.

The stunning view of limestone mountains and mangroves.

Khao Daeng village is located near the red cliff. Its residents earn their living from fishing and shrimp farming. The Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park and a tambon administration organisation are strict with measures to keep Klong Khao Daeng clean by installing enough trash cans in provided areas, collecting garbage regularly and warning or fining violators.

The Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park covers 61,300 rai or about 98km² of forested land, waterways and other areas. Khao Sam Roi Yot is a range of limestone mountains with many uneven tops running from north to south. There are a few local legends on what the name Sam Roi Yot is derived from. First, the mountain range is said to have 300 peaks. Second, the range had been an island where 300 survivors from a sinking Chinese junk ship sought refuge. Third, it was named after a local plant called sam roi yot. However, no conclusion has been reached yet.

If you want to see more of the national park, you can visit Sai and Kaew caves, Sam Phraya beach and Bung Bua Nature Study Centre, a 500 rai swamp full of lotus plants and birds of many kinds.

Those interested in mangrove ecology can also visit the Pran Buri Forest Park and the Sirinart Rachini Mangrove Forest Learning Centre in Pran Buri district. Both are nature learning centres, but their backgrounds are different. The former is a natural mangrove while the latter is a man-made forest.

Pran Buri Forest Park was founded in 1974 by the Forestry Department after HM Queen Sirikit visited Pak Nam Pran Buri Village in Pran Buri, saw many mangrove trees and wanted to support the growing of more trees along the coastline. This project developed 1,984 rai of Khlong Kao and Khlong Doi forests, which consists of mangrove forests, mixed deciduous forests, coastal land and deserted land, into a multipurpose forest.

Sirinart Rachini Mangrove Forest Learning Centre is a good example of human efforts to turn overexploited land into a mangrove. It was inspired by a royal visit of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit in 1996, and their concerns about more encroached mangrove forests near the mouth of the Pran Buri River. After that, an abandoned 800 rai
of shrimp farms were reforested and changed into this mangrove.

In all, the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is perfect for small adventurers who enjoy nature trails and birdwatching and want to see the lifestyles of local fishermen and learn more about mangroves.

For more information, call the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park at 032-821-568.

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