Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

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Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:36 pm

This is somewhere I've wanted to visit for a long time. Unfortunately, before I could get there, the park closed for 12 months because of a foot and mouth outbreak. The park re-opened about 3 months ago.

Time to make arrangements.........................

How to get there: Sorry, I forgot to note the GPS co-ordinates while I was there :oops: . Publicity on how to find the park is scarce. My SatNav didn't recognise co-ordinates I had been given. In the end, I set my SatNav to the general vicinity, and relied upon signposts. I turned right off Petchkasem Road when I saw a sign in English stating Elephant Viewing. There were maybe 3 or 4 more signs in English, and then the all further signs were in Thai (lucky Mrs BB was with us). The Thai signs weren't large but consistent in design - green background with yellow writing and a yellow arrow pointing the direction you should be travelling. The final sign shows a bit of a fork, with arrows pointing in both directions. Take the right hand fork. A few hundred yards, and you will see the park entrance.
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Park entrance
What you need: A powerful camera (probably with tri-pod). I don't have either. A pair of binoculars (your guide will lend you hers if you don't have a pair).

Opening Times: 2pm to 6pm

Cost: Park entrance 200 Baht for Farangs and 40 Baht for Thais. Thais over 60 are free. There were 4 Farangs in our party, each holding a Thai driving licence. Initially they weren't interested in our driving licences, but Mrs BB explained that we were long time residents of Thailand, and eventually they charged us all 40 Baht each. Hire of pick-up, driver and guide 850 Baht.
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Ths is what we travelled in.
Food & Drink: - There is nothing at the park entrance whatsoever. However, if you drive back to where the road forks and turn right there is a small Thai eatery about 3Km on the left. Decent food, clean and cheap.

There is very little at the park entrance, but the toilets are Western and clean.
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There is very little at the park entrance
Because of the recent foot & mouth outbreak, our truck had to drive through a disinfectant bath, and we had to walk through a shallower disinfectant bath. Ladies, don't wear fancy shoes that will fall apart at this stage.

We climbed on board our chariot and were on our way. There were 7 of us (including our guide) in the back of a pick-up. The roads were dirt tracks, and we even went off road proper a few times (when I do that Mrs BB screams in my ear, today she was quiet). Our guide, who only spoke Thai was very informative as we drove along the bumpy road.
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The roads were dirt tracks
Unfortunately we weren't seeing any of the 250 elephants that we had come to see. First stop was at a ranger sub-station to find out where the elephants were hiding. There might have been a coffee shop here, but we didn't have time to really find out.
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ranger sub-station
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Initially the ranger there said they had reports of elephants heading that way, but that rumour proved to be without foundation. We spotted this little chap to amuse us while we were waiting.
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We spotted this little chap
In a quick about turn, we were informed that only one elephant had been seen all day, and it was unlikely we would see one today. We drove offroad to where the beast had been spotted, but nothing.

Our guide's walkie talkie sprung into life, and we were off. When we arrived, a ranger was standing there with a gun which had a very big barrel. He pointed in the general direction. We couldn't see anything with the naked eye. I stood in the back of the truck, and could see through my binoculars a flapping ear. We all disembarked, and headed across some very rough ground until we were only about a million miles from the beasts. There was minimal chance of capturing a decent photo, especially as the sun was directly behind them.
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minimal chance of capturing a decent photo
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minimal chance of capturing a decent photo
There were 10 elephants there grazing (do elephants graze?). At this point I had mixed feelings. I was delighted to have seen wild elephants, but disappointed at how far away they were.

The scenery in the park was fantastic.
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The scenery
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The scenery
We were told that we would have to wait here for a while as it was probably too early for the animals. Then somebody spotted another herd in the opposite direction. At least the sun would be better positioned, so maybe a better chance of a half decent photo.
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The scenery
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Blown up
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The scenery
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Blown up
It was back to the truck to continue our wait............ almost immediately 3 elephants passed behind us. These babies were close enough, but the sun was our enemy. The guide would not let us get into a better position.
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These babies were close enough, but the sun was our enemy
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These babies were close enough, but the sun was our enemy
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These babies were close enough, but the sun was our enemy
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These babies were close enough, but the sun was our enemy
Time was moving on, so we went back to look for the first elephant, and there he was in close proximity to a Guar.
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in close proximity to a Guar
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Blown up
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the first elephant
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Blown up
Unfortunately, at this point, Mrs BB declared a need to spend a penny. Being too scared of snakes to nip behind a bush, the tour had to be abruptly ended.

It had been a fantastic day out, although disappointing that we didn't get a bit closer. I am planning to return next year.

Score:
17 elephants
1 guar
1 snake
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by buksida » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:28 am

Great report, been meaning to visit the park for years now.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:39 am

I'm sure that your camera will do the park a lot more justice. I had thought we would get closer, so because of the distance you need either very steady hands or a tri-pod. A great day for you, and the family.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by BOZ » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:36 am

Great report BB, on my list to see.... Thanks sis for sharing!!!!
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by migrant » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:05 am

Thanks! As I mentioned elsewhere, I've seen the signs, but haven't visited. Need to!!
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by caller » Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:46 pm

Excellent! Love to get there at some stage.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:41 pm

I've been thinking about getting close up to the animals, and one of those helicopter drone thingys would be brilliant.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by eatuae » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:16 am

Great report and fantastic pictures
Please could you give fuller directions from Soi 112 don't speak or read Thai

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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:45 am

Basically, get to the Petchkasem end of Soi 112 and turn right (left at the mini roundabout, past the hideous condo they're buiding, around the U-turn, and out beside Tesco/Vana Nava).

Head South through Pranburi towards Prachuab for about 30 miles. When you start to see elephant figures beside the road, keep an eye open for Kuiburi National Park and more importantly Elephant Watching (or something like that) blue signposts, which is where you turn right.

There will be a few more Elephant Watching signs for a couple of miles, at which point English signs stop.

Easily recognisable Thai signs will start. They are about 2' square with yellow writing on a green background. Each sign has a direction arrow on them if you need to change direction. Just keep driving through the fantastic countryside. The final sign gives a double headed arrow. Go left to where we had food, or straight on (actually a right turn) to the elephants. The entrance is just a few hundred yards further on.

I was quite worried, but it was quite easy.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by dozer » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:02 am

Been there three or four times over the years, usually take the guided tour, but on other times just roamed around. May have not seen as many elephants, as with the guide, but the scenery alone makes the trip worthwhile
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:18 am

Will they let you do your own thing? Especially after the foot & mouth outbreak?

Do you wander on foot, or in your own vehicle (didn't seem an option when we went)?
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by dozer » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:32 am

Probably not now BB, it's a few years since we have been.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by eatuae » Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:15 am

That's excellent BB will take the misses there when we get back from India she is mad about elephants

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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Bamboo Grove » Fri Jan 02, 2015 6:15 pm

This didn't happen in Kuiburi but nevertheless, let's be careful out there.
Khao Yai National Park visitor honks at elephant, gets car thrashed PICTURE ไม่มีรายการภาพ VDO ไม่มีรายการวีดีโอ Date : 2 มกราคม 2558 PRACHINBURI, 2 January 2015 (NNT) – A pickup truck driven by a a tourist on a visit to Khao Yai National Park in Prachinburi came under attack by a wild elephant on Thursday after the driver honked his horn at the jumbo. The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon near the entrance of Heo Narok ( เหวนรก) Waterfall, at the 20th kilometer marker from the Noen Hom entrance of the national park. Eyewitnesses reported that a male elephant was crossing the road when it was honked at by the driver of a pickup truck. The honking frustrated the elephant, which then charged at the truck and tried to gore the vehicle with its tusks. The elephant also stomped on the hood of the truck and smashed the vehicle with its trunk. Only one vehicle was targeted in the attack, which delayed the trips of several tourists who were sitting in the other cars that were trailing the pickup truck. Khanrachit Sinopphawan, chief of Khao Yai National Park, said the elephant was still in the vicinity of the site of the attack. He added that visitors should pay attention to the guidelines of the park, which are found on signs erected along the park's roads. When dealing with wild elephants, drivers must not flash their high beams or honk their horns.
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Re: Visiting the Animals at Kuiburi National Park

Post by Big Boy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:03 am

Well, it was over 2 years since my last visit, but we went yesterday with a friend. No reductions getting into the park yesterday for showing a Thai driving licence, but showing my Thai ID card, and my wife explaining that I was delivering business to the park swung it, and I still paid the Thai rate for admission to the park.

We hired our vehicle together with driver and guide - this was slightly more than last time, but at 850 Baht all in for 4 hours, still a bargain. I had my binoculars with me, but saw that you could hire binoculars for just 100 Baht. IMHO binoculars are a must on this trip, and I got my friend to hire a pair - my friend had no regrets, and actually thanked me for suggesting it.

Unlike my previous visit, when there were only 2 trucks going, there were a lot of people waiting to go this time. 2 of those big double decker tour buses, 6 mini-buses and a variety of cars and trucks. It was busy.

We set off with dozens of trucks across the rugged countryside, and stopped to watch 4 elephants deep in the undergrowth en-route to the end of the trail.



These animals are totally wild, and there is no guarantee of seeing anything, so you have to be grateful for every sighting.

We went down many tracks looking for these wonderful beasts, but they were hiding very well.

At the end of the trail, there are some wonderful views, and all of the trucks congregated here, hoping something would come out of hiding, and walk across the plain.
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wonderful views
We sat around with the other visitors for a few minutes, but decided it would be fruitless. We wandered back to our truck. Feeling somewhat disappointed, we told our guide that we'd had enough. We set off well ahead of the other elephant hunters.

On the way back, we encountered a young bull elephant laying in a river enjoying the afternoon sun. We stopped and watched him for a short while. Eventually he got up and wandered off. However, he stopped right on the track for a short while preventing us moving. Our guide had informed others of our find, and we were soon joined by 2 other trucks to enjoy this beast with us.



Feeling a lot happier after our close up encounter with the young bull elephant, we continued our way back to base. However, about a minute further on, Mrs BB spotted a couple of elephants deep in the undergrowth. We stopped, and observed for a couple of minutes. It soon became apparent that they were heading towards a watering hole. Our driver edged slowly forward, and put his truck in a prime position to observe at the water hole, and we waited a couple of minutes for the beasts, which we'd estimated as 5 to arrive. Our guide got on his walkie talkie to invite other trucks to join us - 5 other trucks eventually arrived to watch the spectacle that was about to happen.

We could see the shadows as the beasts ate their way through the undergrowth. It was amazing to see the lead (big female) elephant delicately stripping branches of leaves with the end of her trunk. She eventually emerged out of the undergrowth and checked the water hole was safe for the others. She was huge - fantastic.



Once she'd given the all clear, she was joined by 8 other family members, and we enjoyed about 30 minutes of elephant heaven as they drank, swam and then covered themselves in mud. It was a sight that you don't see everyday, and we felt privileged to be observing. There was even a baby elephant in this herd. Mrs BB was quite concerned it wouldn't be able to get back up the steep banks. However, when the time came, the baby's mother just pushed it up the bank with her head.







A truly wonderful experience that we'll never forget. It must have been special because even the guides and drivers had their phones out filming it.

Cost was very reasonable i.e.

- 53 miles each way, so whatever the fuel costs.
- Park admission was 200 Baht (I paid 40 Baht, and my wife was free because she's a Thai, over 60)
- Truck and guide hire 850 Baht.
- Binocular hire 100 Baht.

A lovely excursion from Hua Hin.
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