The blue gaiters are leech socks

Gordon:  Yesterday, on a whim, we took the unusual step of joining an organized tour.  I don’t generally enjoy being herded around by someone else at great expense, but this full day outing in Khao Yai National Park was actually a great experience.  We met eight other travellers from Germany, France, Austria and Italy, and we had a the benefit of a knowledgeable, high energy guide.

After the drive into the park, our first adventure was in quest of gibbons.  We could hear their hooting calls at a distance from the road, and our guide lead us to various points were we could observe them.  This experience alone would have justified taking the tour.  Gibbons are a lesser ape rather than a monkey, but they are completely at home in the forest canopy.  It was a delight to watch them swing from branch to branch and fly from tree to tree.  We saw two separate species, including the aptly named White Footed, and both adults and juveniles.

Gibbon photos taken by our guide, who had a longer lense
We then undertook a three hour hike through the jungle.  On the hike, or later in the day, we saw Great Hornbills, a Giant Squirrel (you wouldn’t want this metre long rodent in your attic), Sanbar Deer, Barking Deer, macaque monkeys, a large woodpecker, and other animals.  We were unsuccessful in seeing elephants, but it seemed that we were in close proximity to them.  It was very exciting as we crept through the forest in search of a herd that a ranger said he had encountered.  There was ample evidence of their passing, in the form of broken vegetation, droppings, and, at one point, a loud crashing noise.  Our guide said we could also smell them (an equine sort of scent) but that may have been from their droppings.

A photo of a Great Hornbill taken by our guide.  These birds have a 150 cm wingspan and make quite a whooshing sound as they fly.

Later in the day we visited a waterfall and a viewpoint at 4,200 feet.  We returned to our hotel 13 hours after our departure, exhausted but very pleased with the experience.

This morning, as we were enjoying an excellent breakfast buffet, we made the decision to join a half-day tour this afternoon.  I won’t deny that the opportunity to have another such breakfast by staying in Pak Chong for a third night may have influenced our decision.  

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