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5

Cheow Lan Lake is man-made and surrounded by mountains and rainforest. It was made by the flooding of a large valley in 1982 for the hydro-electric power station.

The best time for a visit to this beautiful region is the dry season from December to late April. It’s Thailand’s wettest region with an annual rainfall of 3.500 mm. The reason is the limestone mountain range from north to south. It gets hit by the monsoons from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand between late April and end of November. In the rainy season, it’s very rare to spot wildlife at the lake. Trails are slippery; it’s cold and wet on the one or two hours boat rides. The famous Nam Talu Cave is closed in the rainy season since it got flooded and people died.

Boat transfer on the Cheow Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park

The boat tours which are usually offered are for bigger groups, and it takes around an hour to get to one of the raft houses. These groups visit the easy accessible Coral Cave (Pakarang Cave) mostly as we did instead of the adventurous water flooded Nam Talu Cave. Ask before booking! Overall these trips are nice to get an idea of the immense size of the lake. The price p.p. in a group for one day visit is roughly 1.500 Baht / 40 € / $ 45 plus 300 Baht / 8 € / 9 $ National Park fee.

Weather

The dry season lasts from December to late April. Anyway, showers can also occur in the dry season and especially in the rainforest. The hottest months are March and April with temps up to 34°C and even more and high humidity. The rainy season starts roughly late April until the end of November. Most precipitation from May to July and from October to November.

Beautiful limestone karst formations on the Cheow Lan Lake

Crowds

The lake pier is always crowded but as soon as the longtail boat leaves the dock the crowds disappear. There are plenty of boats with tourists, but they have good timing not too many people visit one of the caves at the same time. Lunch is served on one of the many floating raft houses. It was very well organized that people can enjoy the marvelous scenery. 

Top Tip

To experience the amazing rainforest, wildlife, and birds it's recommended to book a private tour far to the north-west. To get there, it takes minimum two hours by boat. The only available accommodation is basic and running by the National Park. Early morning you may spot wildlife by boat along the lake. Of course, independent tours are expensive and need to be booked in advance.

A Great Place
TH Thailand
5

The Khao Sok National Park was established in 1980 to protect one of the oldest rainforests in the world and covers an area of 739 km2.

It’s Thailand’s wettest region with an annual rainfall of 3.500 mm. The reason is the limestone mountain range from north to south. It gets hit by the monsoons from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand between late April and end of November. Therefore, the driest months are December to April and the most popular ones.

Weather

The dry season last from December to late April. Anyway, showers can also occur in the dry season and especially in the rainforest. The hottest months with high humidity are March and April with temps around 34°C. The rainy season starts late April and lasts until the end of November. Most precipitation from May to July and from October to November. 

Swimming in the Khao Sok National Park
Take a refreshing bath

Avoiding Crowds

It's pretty busy around the visitor center, and it takes some time to purchase the entrance ticket for 300 Baht / roughly 8 € / 9 $. The ticket is valid for 24 hours. As soon as you start hiking deep into the jungle the crowds thin out. At the beginning of the Ton Gloy Waterfall Trail, it's pretty crowded, but also along this popular hike, fewer people are along the trail after around an hour hiking.

Bird in the Khao Sok National Park

Seasons in the Khao Sok Rainforest
  • To experience the vivid rainforest May is the best month.
  •  For birding, the monsoon season is the best time when they spread out and the very best month is May when the mating season starts. The dry season is not recommended for birding.
  • For hiking, the dry season might be the best time. The trails are slippery after heavy rainfall and some parts are closed during the rainy season.
  • Rafflesia Kerrii is in bloom between January and March for about 5 days only. Very difficult to predict.
  • More mosquitos during the rainy season and leeches are on the forest floor at least until November.
Forest
TH Thailand
5

Kruger is a year-round destination: 2 million hectares of an exceptional diversity of life forms together with historical and archaeological sights.

Wildlife

The best time for wildlife viewing is in southern winter from May to September. The game concentration at waterholes is high, vegetation is low, and animals are easier to spot. Hyenas are night active, and we were lucky to spot two of them close to our camp by night.

Crowds and Weather

Southern winter; the dry season (May to September) is not only the best time for wildlife but also low season with fewer tourists, except for school holiday: It’s less busy in camps and on the roads. Days are sunny with low humidity and nights are cold. Fewer mosquito and a very low risk for malaria.

The busiest months in the main camps are in southern summer (November to March) if possible avoid the Christmas school holidays. The rain starts end of October. The scenery gets lush and green, but during summer it’s also hot and humid and heavy rainfalls occur. If rivers get flooded, you can't pass bridges. Wildlife game viewing is not as good as in southern winter.Our favorite month is September: still dry, even more, game to spot and temps rise.

Wildlife
ZA South Africa
4.8

Yala designated as National Park in 1938 is the oldest one of Sri Lanka. It is divided into 5 blocks, four of them are open to the public at the moment (Feb. 2019).

Yala is a must if traveling to Sri Lanka. The National Park is popular for the biggest leopards, lots of wildlife and it's birders paradise. Of course, everybody wants to see a leopard at Yala, but to increase the chance of a sighting stay at least two nights! What is the best time to spot them? Read on for our detailed tips:

Big Leopard in Yala, Sri Lanka

Leopards

Yala has the highest density of leopards. The best chance to spot them is around new moon combined with a safari/tour in the afternoon when it’s also less busy. They are more active around dusk during new moon days. 

Jeep congestion while watching a leopard in Yala National Park

Crowds

It’s often very busy with many jeeps. It's super crazy if a leopard got spotted. Avoid weekends and public holidays. The morning safaris are the busiest. You can't enter the park immediately; first, your driver has to queue to get the ticket. Many tourists stay just for one night and leave at midday. The afternoon is much quieter. 

Elephants taking a bath in Yala, Sri Lanka

Wildlife

The best time to spot leopards, as well as other wildlife such as elephants and wild boar, is from May to August. More animals gather around the waterholes during the drier months. From October to December it’s more likely to spot deer, crocodiles, and birds. The park is often closed in September until October (too aggressive animals after a heavy drought). The best time of the day to spot wildlife is either early morning or from afternoon till evening. From late morning until afternoon they usually hide under thick foliage.

Opening Hours and 3 Gates at Yala

The park is open from 6 to 6. Yala is divided into five blocks. Block 4 is not open for safaris. Most visited are Block 1 and 2 with two entrances. Hundreds of jeeps seek for a leopard in Block 1.

  1. Palatupana: Main entrance for Block 1 and 2 is the busiest - waiting time up to one hour in the morning.
  2. Katagamuwa: This entrance to Block 1 and 2 is far less crowded.
  3. Galge: Entrance for Block 3 and 5 and less known. Therefore, you do not need to queue at the Galge entrances.
Our driver was checking the depth of a waterhole
Our driver Amare was checking the depth of a waterhole. 
Weather

In general, you can visit Yala year-round. It's never really bad. The dry season runs from May to September. Increasing precipitation in October. The ‘mild’ rainy season runs from November to January and some more rainfall again in April.

Weather Yala from 1991-2015
Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for Yala from 1991-2015

Top Tips Where to Stay

First of all stay at least two or three nights to increase the chance of spotting a leopard. Choose an accommodation which is nearby. Pro; you can go on safari in the morning and afternoon and spend the lunch break at your hotel. 

Wildlife
LK Sri Lanka