Day 10: Overnight Lake Tour
I arrived at Khao Sok National Park the night before and checked in at Our Jungle Camp Eco Resort. I was greeted by the nicest manager named Nu and given a cup of tea, and I quickly realized that I had accidentally booked a super nice, bougey resort. Oops.
At first, I was kind of disappointed since no part of me wanted this solo trip to be “resort-y”. I was really enjoying roughing-it in hostels and meeting other young backpackers. But after checking into my treehouse (yes, I slept in a treehouse, and yes, it made my life), I had a complete 180 and embraced having a nice big bed, clean room, and my own bathroom (hallelujah) for a few days.
Then the fun began! I booked the resort in the first place because of its raving reviews of the Overnight Lake Tour at Cheow Lan Lake. The park is basically split up into 2 parts: the lake and the rest of the park. I knew I wanted to spend most of my stay hanging out at the lake and doing water stuff, and this 2-day tour seemed to have it all.
I hopped in the van and immediately met a group of nice Dutch girls. We chatted the entire ride to the lake, and then hopped onto the long boat for our first ride around the lake.
The views on the lake completely took my breath away. Every other corner we “ooo-ed” and “ahh-ed” at the massive limestone cliffs and emerald green-blue water. Seriously amazing.
Then, we made it to the spot where we would be spending the night. We stayed in adorable wooden bungalows right on the lake-front. They were all lined up next to each other, with kayaks in front, a 15-foot diving board, common area with a bar…so fun!
Me and the girls immediately got to swimming and hanging in the water. The water was warm and crystal clear. So relaxing.
We had some lunch and then we were off to hike inside the park. It was raining which was a bit of a downer, but after we all embraced the fact that we would be wet the entire two days, it actually became very freeing and more adventurous.
The hike was around 3 hours through the thick of the jungle. There weren’t a lot of views because we were under such dense forestry, but the hike definitely kept us on our toes as we were climbing rocks on all 4’s, trudging through mud, and even swimming through caves neck-high in water!
One of the Dutch girls said it best: the entire hike felt like we were in an movie like Hunger Games. We had just survived a fight and we were on our way home, but at any moment a monster could come out and attack us. Kinda cheesy but it really did have that sense of adventure as we were alone in the jungle, and especially in the rain! 😛
After the wet and muddy hike, we went back to our bungalow home and refreshed ourselves over some cold beers. I met a nice group of more 20-something year olds from England who was also part of the tour, and we became a crew for the evening. We swam some more, enjoyed dinner together, played flip cup…everyone was so interesting to talk to and it was the perfect, laid-back evening by the lake.
Day 11: More lake fun + quiet evening in Khao Sok
My body woke up at 5:30am without an alarm. I stepped out onto the deck in pitch black, and it seemed that some of the other friends also could not sleep. We spontaneously decided to take advantage of our morning energy and kayak into the sunrise.
I am so beyond glad we did. This was probably my favorite part of the entire tour, and it wasn’t even part of it! Just a spontaneous adventure to see some amazingness. The lake at sunrise completely took my breath away. It was peaceful, beautiful, filled with vibrant colors and reflection of the cliffs…I will never forget it.
We came back to the bungalows and had some morning coffee, and then we were back on the boat and off on a morning safari. Our tour guide pointed out some animals here and there, but nothing too crazy. I think we had some bad luck that morning.
After the safari, we had some breakfast and went off to do some more cave exploring at Pra Kay Cave, which was a small dry cave and could be casually hiked in flip flops. I didn’t think the cave was as impressive as the wet one from the day before or the Lod Cave in Pai, but it’s always neat to see the inner-workings of earth –> the caves only grow at 4mm per year!
Ironically, I thought the best part of the cave was right outside. More beautiful views of the lake and cliffs.
Group shot with my new English friends! 🙂
Our last stop of the tour was a big, beautiful bay where we ate a picnic lunch, swam around some more, and enjoyed each other’s company before saying goodbye.
I got back to my resort around 2pm. I originally wanted to go on another half-day hike but was super beat after the tour and from waking up so early. I took a nice, long shower and then hung out with Nu (the manager of the resort) at reception for a bit.
Then, I went to “town” for a few hours – all the accommodations for the park are basically on one small street with a few restaurants and stores. I even ran into an English friend from the tour and we grabbed a quick bite.
My last night in Khao Sok ended with getting drinks back at the resort with Nu over his secret stash of alcohol, ha. It was really nice of him to spend some time with me given that the resort was mostly full of families and couples. He saw that I was alone and was nice enough to keep me company for the evening.
Overall, I’m super happy with my time at Khao Sok National Park. It really was the perfect balance of activity/adventure and relaxation, and even though it was a bit out of the way to get to, the unforgettable scenery of the lake along with meeting some new friends made it so worth it.
Next stop are the islands, starting with the gulf side! I will be in Koh Tao for 4 days getting my scuba diving license – very excited to stay put in one place for a bit and learn something new 🙂