This is a continuation of our road trip around the north-western part of Thailand. To read from the start, click HERE.
About ten minutes drive south of Mae Hong Son town on the highway back to Khun Yuam is the Nam Tok Mae Surin National Park. A little sign on the road promises camping (a picture of a teepee), so Caroline did a bit of web research and found that there was a loop track in the park that took about four hours to complete leading by the Maekutlong waterfall. The other national parks and waterfalls that we’ve attempted to visit on this trip have cost a fair bit of money, but in this case there was no entrance or campsite fee.
Arriving at the lovely site, we pitched our new tent (purchased on Amazon, delivered to Malaysia) in a grassy patch between trees next to a bubbling river. There was nobody else camping in the area – a wonderful recurring theme in Northern Thailand outside of the tourist season. The main road had a small bridge over the river under which we found a wooden platform that was set up for hand-weaving. A woman was sitting there doing just that, so Caroline had a broken conversation with her.
Our hike took us through a lot of old bamboo plantation, where towering stalks had toppled to produce the effect of natural, woven arches. At intervals on the path were ‘stations’ (1 – 16) that gave a snippet of information about the area in Thai and English. We mostly followed a river, witnessing several small natural water features, and a couple of 3-metre falls. Our path climbed into the hills, and one of the peaks bore an amazing view of the distant Wat Phratat Doi Kong Mu, a large, beautiful temple that overlooks the town of Mae Hong Son. The tiny pagodas were just white specks in the distance.
Maekutlong waterfall was accessible from the top or the bottom, and the upper section contained a hidden section where multiple falls cascaded down in several streams. The water levels were too low (dry season) to fully bathe, but we showered under the falls.
Heading down to the bottom of the main falls we showered again – this time with a lot more of a massage.
Along our path were many little jungle people. We probably saw more life in this four-hour hike than we did in the Kalimantan jungle climbing Bukit Raya (although the few things we found there were pretty amazing like this giant worm, for example). This time everything was small-scale but it was in abundance. Large daddy long-legs scuttled about everywhere, red seed bugs were plentiful, and cute skinks darted across the path, hiding under leaves away from our giant footsteps.
The loop track ended on a (barely) paved road a couple of kilometres from our camp and starting point. After only a minute of walking we were picked up by two guys in a ute and driven the rest of the way, bumping along in the back.
To continue, click HERE