Lake Cheo Lan in Khao Sok National Park
Lake Cheo Lan is a part of Koa Sok Nature Park, located in the southern Thai province of Surat Thani, 175 km north of Phuket. The park is a tropical jungle, the biological diversity of which is comparable only with the forests of the Amazon.
50 years ago there was no lake at this place, but only the mountains between which people lived. Fruits were cultivated here, the trade route that connected the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea ran.
As a result of the military coups of the 1970s. rebels settled in the region, disagreeing with the established political regime in Bangkok. By 1989, they were all amnestied. Meanwhile, the economic development of the south of Thailand and, above all — its tourism industry, has increased the need for electricity. People from the mountain valley were resettled, and the main river of southern Thailand, which flows nearby, was blocked by a powerful dam.
The Rajapraba Dam (literally “the light of the Kingdom”), 94 meters high, created an artificial reservoir with an area of 165 km² and a depth of 150 m.
How to get there
Turn on the 53 km signpost along the highway leading from Surat Thani to Takua Pa, and drive another 15 km to the Rajaprab dam.
How much is
Entrance to the nature reserve — 200 baht ($ 6).
Rent a boat with a guide (walk 1.5 hours) — from 1,500 baht ($ 44), one place — from 200 baht ($ 6).
Boat rental to get from the dam to the lake — 1000 baht ($ 29).
Excursion tours to the lake and in the surroundings from travel agencies — from 1500 ($ 44) (one-day) to 8000 baht ($ 235) (multi-day, with an extensive excursion program).
A trip to the lake Cheo Lan is an ecotourism in its purest form. Here they do not catch phones, there is no Internet and electricity (despite the power station nearby). There are karst mountains, soaring up from the water by vertical walls hundreds of meters, the turquoise surface of the lake and diverse wildlife.
Karst mountains consist of loose rocks — limestone, gypsum, rock salt, dolomite, etc. — and are present everywhere on Earth, for example, in the mountains of Crimea and the Caucasus. However, here the rocks are in the water, dissolving in which give it an amazing shade. If you look into the distance, you can see how the clouds cling to the mountains, and sometimes fog falls on them, creating a unique East Asian landscape.
On the shores of the lake live several species of monkeys. Bright birds nest on isolated mini islets. If you walk into the jungle on foot, you can meet elephants, tapirs, monitor lizards and a wild cat.
In addition to walks on the lake itself, sightseeing tours include:
- Visiting caves — Coral and Nam Talu;
- Hiking trails along paved trails in the jungle with a visit to the best sightseeing places;
- Kayaking along the Sok River in a single or double boat;
- Expeditions to the reserve with a long route.
The coral cave resembles all other stalactite-stalagmite formations with the difference that the stone-limestone surfaces are covered with moss, which makes the stalactites look like corals. Visiting the cave Nam Talu with full confidence can be attributed to extreme excursions.
During the rainy season, it is almost completely flooded and closed; in the dry season, cold water can sometimes reach the neck. In the cave it is dark, for illumination by an accompanying person lanterns are put on over their heads Walking through the grottoes of Nam Tulu, you can see hundreds of bats, stone and limestone formations hanging from all sides.
Separately, it should be said about night and morning walks on the lake, which are organized by guides for travelers staying on Cheo Lana for the night. The star-filled sky, the sounds made by the unknown nocturnal inhabitants of the lake and coastal areas leave an indelible impression. And in the mornings — the already mentioned fogs and absolute silence hanging in the air.
For many, the lake Cheo Lan — is fishing. If you are lucky, there is a chance to catch a river catfish, an endemic Asian water — snakehead, tropical perch. Divers can search and explore flooded houses and temples, which stand in safety at the bottom. Those who do not fish and do not swim under water are recommended to swim in the lake: the water is clean and has a comfortable temperature of 26-28 ° C.
Many come to Cheo Lan Lake as part of a day excursion, alone or with a group. For those who want to see the night and morning Cheo Lan, there are several bungalows on the lake.
No comfort, all amenities on the street. It is assumed three meals. Accommodation in floating houses on the lake — from 600 to 1500 baht ($ 18-44) per night.