Khao Soi Dao waterfall wildlife sanctuary trek, Chanthaburi
Khao Soi Dao Waterfall is located in Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Soi Dao District of Chantaburi province. The fall starts near the peak of Khao Soi Dao Nua Mountain at 1,556 meters above sea level. More than 85% of the forest in Khao Soi Dao wildlife sanctuary is evergreen.
This area consists of valuable resources for conservation, such as Spiny Breasted Frog that is found exclusively only at this place, locally famous trees, herbal plants, and the most famous cardamom garden near the peak.
The most popular tourist attraction is Khao Soi Dao Waterfall, which comprises of 16 tiers: the highest one near the peak and the lowest one at the starting point of the climb.
It is a kind of challenge and reward to get to the 1,556 meter peak of Khao Soi Dao Nua mountain (and hence the highest tier of the fall). The starting point (near the 1st level of the waterfall) is located 3 km behind the visitor center of the wildlife sanctuary. From here you walk through the evergreen forest for about 1.2km (about 1 hr or more) to the sixth level. You will see abundance of local vegetation, birds and butterflies. From this spot you can look up the stunning view of the levels 9 and 10.
The 800 meters trek from the sixth level to the ninth might be one of the toughest sections. You walk along a narrow trail that takes you up and down. There are leeches on the wet ground. This part may take about 40 minutes. The ninth level of the fall is said to be more beautiful than the sixth. It is relaxing to sit beside the fall admiring the beauty of the nature.
The trail from the ninth level to the tenth level would be the most difficult section, which is less traveled and there are growth of vegetables and other trees on the path. At some places you have to crawl under the trees or walk over the fallen dead trees. Leeches are found more frequently.
After about 30 minutes of hard trek you will get to the 10th level of the fall. It is a great load of water thundering down into a pool, against the high cliff. It produces not only a cloud of mist all over the area, but a loud sound that can be heard afar.
The 10th level also offers good viewpoints from where you can have a panorama of Khao Soi Dao forest. Please do not try looking down from a rock table, which will make you dizzy because of its height. Another point to be careful is that many of the stones and rocks along this waterfall are very slippery.
After having a short rest it is time to walk to the highest level (the source) of the waterfall.
This time you climb along the trail through the forest, which is not as hard as the previous climb. But some parts of the trail are steep and there are leeches there too. Along the trail you can study the vegetation. The 16th and 15th levels are located close to each other. It will take about 30minutes to get to 15th level where the pool is good for swimming.
Thick evergreen forest covers the highest tier of the waterfall and the peak of the mountain. These forests extend to other parks of Chantaburi province.
How to get there
1. Visitor center
2. Khao Soi Dao Nua (north) Mountain / Waterfall
3. Khao Soi Dao Tai (south) Mountain
4. Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Scanctuary
Khao Soi Dao Waterfall is located about 70 km north of Chantaburi City. Drive on the highway no.317 (Chantaburi - Sakaeo) through Pong Nam Ron district till you get to the 62nd km maker. There is a left turn road with a sign "Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary". It is 4 km from this point to the visitor center.
The first level of the fall (or the starting point of the climb) is located 3 km from the visitor center. You are allowed to drive until Pom Bon (the starting point of climbing).
You can take any bus from Chantaburi that go to Sakaeo, and get off at Patong Market at Soi Dao district town. There, hire pick up car or motorcycle to the wildlife sanctuary.
Accommodations and facilities
At Khao Soi Dao Wildlife there are bungalows near the visitor center. They have bedrooms and toilets. Foods can be purchased at small shops nearby. At the time of our travel (November 2002) the bungalow rooms were free of charge. However donations are welcome.
Climbing to the summits of Khao Soi Dao (both north and south) require getting a guide from the visitor center.
Spiny breasted frog
English common name: Spiny breasted frog
Scientific name: Rana fasciculispina
Thai name: Kob - Oak Nham
General description: One of the amphibious species. Most distinguished feature is its spiny skin. Males usually have more jagged than females inside part of the belly. These buttons are seen more obvious during breeding time.
Habitat and behavior: It is usually found at crevice where low level water is running all the time.
These frogs usually come out to forage at nighttime.
Distribution: It is found only at Khao Soi Dao Waterfall in Chantaburi province, Thailand.
Fon (09Dec 2002)