Khao Phra Taew is Phuket Thailand’s last natural rainforest

In this world where natural beauty is rapidly declining, there’ still some things that are beautiful. Khao Phra Taew is Phuket, Thailand’s last natural rainforest and it is one of those things.

“Khao (mountain) Phra Taew in Phuket’s northeast has the only remaining rainforest of any size on the island and is now protected as a National Park. It is ten kilometers long, and four at its widest, but with only 22 square kilometers, it is only a tiny fraction of the total land area of Phuket and not big enough for any large wild animals to survive in.

Khao Phra Taew is also known for the small waterfall there, one that flows only in rainy weather. Thai culture has a love affair with waterfalls, something akin to the Western passion for palm-fringed, tropical beaches.

The most fascinating thing to do here is to walk one of the two forest paths through the rainforest that the National Parks maintains. There’s a short 600-meter walk and an especially beautiful two-kilometer track. The longer track is not particularly arduous, though perhaps too much for those who are grossly overweight, very old or otherwise unhealthy. Children from about 6 or 7 years old could easily handle the track and could gain a lot of knowledge from it.

The short 600-meter walk through the Khao Phra Taew’s rainforest will be enough for most people. And indeed they will get a glimpse of a natural world that has been so thoroughly destroyed on Phuket it is difficult to imagine without coming to see. Both the short and long walking tracks start by following the small stream that creates the waterfall. You have to do some scrambling over rocks, and get the feet wet from time to time.

Many of the most interesting natural phenomena, including flora, bugs, and animals in the rainforest, are microscopic, or small enough to avoid detection by most passing eyes. Those who walk the forest slowly, with hawk eyes scouring all corners, bright and dark, will surely be rewarded.

The trail leaves the exquisitely beautiful forest of palms and immediately moves into a new world dominated by bamboo. Once again the thin, towering stalks rush for the sunlight, catching it high above with leafy heads that glow brilliantly, providing all small creatures below, humans included, the light they need to see and weave their way across the gloom of the forest floor.

Through the bamboo forest, the trail follows the stream bed a bit further up the mountain before making a short jump onto a ridgeline. It might take an hour to climb up the mountain trail – assuming one stops enough to smell the fungi along the way. However, the return trip down Bamboo Alley might take just 15 minutes.”

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