After 2 days passed in Kao Shok National Park, with the second one spent mostly kayaking in Cheow Lan Lake, in a continuous amazement, before exploring a local cave and some of the jungle, it was time to welcome our last day in this unforgettable settings.
Sunrise call for Wildlife spotting in Cheow Lan Lake
The still but animated jungle offering shelter to many animal species was awakening to another day of life.
We woke up deeply rested and relaxed while listening to the not too far away call of the Gibbons, functioning as a natural alarm in the jungle.
We got ready and before breakfast we went for our first activity, wildlife spotting. It was planned as early as possible with departure at 7 am to maximize our chances of having a glimpse of local fauna.
It was definitely the best moment of our stay, landscape wise. The light was dim, and the surroundings silent. The perfectly blue and clear sky mixed its presence with the karst formations towering the water and the still but animated jungle offering shelter to many animal species was awakening to another day of life.
We were guided by boat along the coast of the lake as close as we could get to the vegetation, and from time to time stopping to shut the noise of the engine and waiting to see if any wild animal would dare to make us a morning present.
In the meanwhile the sun started to appear over the limestone cliffs, and the warm rays began a process of evaporation over the surface of the water creating a magical atmosphere. The mist, the contrast of the light behind the trees, the still water: a perfect combination for a postcard and an everlasting memory of our trip.
Our efforts to spot any of the shy inhabitants of the rainforest was still not paid off, and after less than one hour we were back to our accommodation.
We had wrong expectation about wildlife spotting, hoping for some elephants or tigers to show up.
As specified before, you should know that if the main purpose of your trip is wildlife spotting, you should ask for a tour reaching the beginning of the lake in Klong Saeng and Klong Nakha wildlife sanctuaries where all the animals were moved after the valley was flooded.
Also it looks like we were in a period of “Artificial high tide”, since the water level of Cheow Lan Lake was left high not to flood Surat Thani. When the flow is lowered during the dry season, there are patches of green land coming out on the sides, where it's supposedly easier to spot mammals.
Despite the temporary disappointment of not spotting any animals, we were still really glad we had the chance to experience the lake at its maximum beauty with the magical light of sunrise.
Guided kayaking in Cheow Lan Lake
After breakfast we went for our last organized activity, the guided kayaking. For us was no big deal, now that we were feeling confident with our skills kayaking and we had explored on our own most of the surroundings. Just one week before we were total beginners with kayaks and now we were pretending to be experienced athletes. But for our adventure companions it was the first activity of this kind, a quite exciting and safe setting for a kayaking premier.
Somehow our guide didn't consider that they were total beginners and he started paddling leading the group without giving any instruction, so that Oti, that only one week before was struggling in the Mangrove forest in Langkawi, now played the role of the “master” and tried to teach them the basics of the movements.
It was an easy trip, following our guide mostly in the middle of the lake rather than close to the bordering jungle where we could have had more chances to spot wildlife. It's true that there are still some groups of Dusky Leaf Monkeys living in the small islands, as our guide Poo told us, but according to the animal calls, the “party” was going on on the coast. So eventually me and Oti stopped on the back of the group and decided to transform into sweet water pirates and “deserted” the group to enjoy the last hour left of this incredible environment.
In the meanwhile our guide was leading the group too much in front, unaware that we were left behind, and we had no possibility to announce him our decision.
Me and Oti decided to go forward with our resolution and to split up so that each one could follow his own instinct.
I soon started to chase the Gibbons' calls first on one side, then on another, with no success. After so many times we were in the Jungle in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand over a period longer than one year, while we heard their calls constantly, we spotted the Gibbons only two times, both in Kalimantan.
The first time was while we were in Tanjung Puting National Park to see the Orangutans, and the second time still not far from the same reserve, where in a local house a Gibbon was kept in chain as a pet. It was such a piety to see in chains this shy but elegant dancer of the tree tops, now relegated to a life as thrilling as the one of a stuffed animal!
Once again our efforts to spot wildlife were not paid back, but we invested the precious time left of our adventure to fill our body up of every breath of this magical jungle, every sight of the jagged cliffs and we took mental shots of the unique emotions we felt in Cheow Lan Lake.
Our experience in this special flooded reservoir full of contrasts, where amazing beauty was created from an insane abuse over the environment, was finished. We went back to Ratchaprabha Dam still in an ecstatic state, before being transferred to the closest bus station 15 km away and starting to think of our next destination.
Was it worth to visit Cheow Lan Lake?
We would suggest unreservedly to anybody visiting Thailand a trip to Cheow Lan Lake and we have to thank for our experience “Limestone Lake Rainforest Tours” that organized our trip in the lake and in Khao Sok National Park and deserves a good review.
The company was well organized and precise, communication was easy and straightforward, plus all of the staff we met during our stay, drivers included, were speaking English.
We didn't find the activities to be adrenaline filled, but that might be a plus for more relaxed visitors. Considering that we were invited to join an existing tour that wasn't customized for us, we can't complain about this aspect. Our guide Poo was a nice and friendly man always present to make sure we didn't have any wish unfulfilled.
Disclaimer: While our visit in Cheow Lan Lak and Khao Sok National Park and our stay in the raft house were sponsored by Limestone Lake Rainforest Tours, everything we wrote in this report was our sincere opinion representing our experience.