National parks in northern Thailand
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National parks in the North

Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
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A bridge over a river In 1959, some important forests in Phitsanulok province were proposed for inclusion in the national parks system, among them was the once vast and malarial infested Thung Salaeng Luang. Eventually, in 1972, 1262 square kilometers of area were declared as Thung Salaeng Luang national park.

From the late 1960's to the early 1980's the forest was being used as a major base and infiltration route for guerrillas of the outlawed Communist Party of Thailand (CPT). It was sealed off by the Thai military. One of the climactic crucial war between Communist insurgents and the government forces took place at Khao Kor. Government forces defeated the guerrillas in a series of tough battles in 1981 and 1982. Khao Kor is now the site of a resort and community-based development projects.

Some hilltribe people and other intruders were also blamed for the destruction of parts of the park's flora and fauna.

Composing the park are limestone hills, slate and hardpan between altitudes of 300 to 1,028 meters. A long north-south stretch of limestone hills runs down the western section of the park. Thung Salaeng Luang, the origin of numerous streams, is inlaid with meadows, especially in its southern area. Mixed species deciduous forest predominates the park, with lowland scrub and tropical broadleaved evergreen covering smaller areas.

The average annual temperature is 25ºC, rising to 30ºC in summer months from March to June. The best time to visit is in the cool season: November to February. Many of the wild meadow flowers bloom in November. The average annual rainfall is 1,700 millimetres, the wettest months being July to October.

17 mammal species, including elephant, yellow - throated marten and masked palm civet, are confirmed as park dwellers. A significant number of others are possible residents. These include tiger, gaur, barking deer, wild dog, wild pig, langur and slow loris. A 1987 study estimated that between five and 20 elephants survied in the park.

The best places to see wildlife are on the park's meadows and, during the dry season, around ponds and salt licks. There is a large salt lick at Pong Sai in the north-west and Pong Thung Phaya in the south-west.

More than 190 bird species have been confirmed, among them species of heron, eagle, partridge, pheasant, pigeon, owl, swift, hornbill, barbet, woodpecker, bulbul, babbler, warbler, flycatcher and flowerpecker.

A prominent resident is the Siamese fire back pheasant, a leading candidate for Thailand's national bird because it was once so common and frequently referred to in classical Thai literature. It also once helped advertise the country. A pair was sent to Napoleon III of France in 1862 along with diplomatic envoys, eliciting interest in both the exotic animal and its place of origin.

Tourist attractions
Thung Salaeng: This meadow is reached by two routes. There is a 40 km long trail running south from the park's headquarters to the meadow but it can only be negotiated by 4 wheel drive vehicles. The other option is arriving via the Khao Kor - Phetchabun road which runs south-east of the park and turning off at Nong Mae Na. A gravel route leads to the park boundary and meadow.

Thung Nang Phaya: This favorite camping site located in the south-west is known for its stunning combination of meadow and pine trees. It can most easily be reached from the Nong Mae entry to the park, with 4 wheel drive cars recommended especially during the rainy season.

Thung Non Son: It is situated on a plateau deep in the park's centre. During October to December this 11,000 hectares meadow is resplendent with large clusters of flowers. To get there from the headquarters, drive along the same road that leads to Thung Salaeng Luang for 15 km until a right turn-off route. From there it is a 17 km trek along a mountain ridge to Thung Non Son.

Kaeng Sopha waterfall: It is a large waterfall with 3 levels flowing through many islets. Along the highway no. 12 (Phitsanulok - Lomsak) there is a turn-off route to the fall (to the south) between km markers 71 and 72.

Accommodations and facilities
There are 7 bungalows sleeping 5 to 12 people at the park's headquarters located at km. 80 (on highway no. 12). Five bungalows sleeping 6 to 12 people are available at Nong Mae Na office. Four camping sites are also in the park.

How to get there
The park's headquarters is easily reached from either Phitsanulok or Lomsak using highway no. 12. It is located at km. 80, to the south of the road.

Contact address
Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
P.O. Box 64, Amphur Muang
Phitsanulok Province 65000
Tel: 01-226 0728

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