RAFFLESIA HALF DAY HIKE
Rafflesia is a flower that blooms between the months of November until April in Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. It is boasted to be the largest flower in the world.
It has no leaves, roots or stems and is a parasitic absorptive organism which hosts from vines. Some species can reach up to 100 centimetres in diameter. The only part of the flower that can be seen outside the host I s it’s five petals.
Fortunately Scott and I had the opportunity to go and the Rafflesia as there were a couple open at the time of our visit in Khao National Park.
We originally wanted to go and see the elephants and to the hot springs on a day tour but we left it too late and all the places were filled, so this was the alternative.
Deciding that this would be a good choice and Scott and I agreed – even though it was a steep climb. I thought a hike into the jungle would put him off. Especially after our Mount Sorrow Trail in Australia…. but I was happy… I love a hike into the jungle!
We met the guide in our hostel at 08:30 and were with another two people. We all gave him a copy of our passports so that he could buy the park passes for the day. When he came back and we jumped in the back of the Jeep and arrived at the start of the trail within a few minutes.
Climbing an old broken ladder to start, we made it onto the track which was starting the uphill climb.
Within a few minutes there was another hiker on the track guy trying to overtake us. The guide asked him where his ticket was and also his guide. When the he stated that he did not have either the guide would not let him past.
There was a bit of a commotion between the pair as the hiker wanted to pass and the guide was adamant that he couldn’t. So instead, there was a standoff and the guide was trying to call the ranger.
Eventually, the unauthorised hiker went back down the track and we did not see him again. However, the guide was quite upset and expressed how important it is to travel with supervision.
The guide told us that the flower is endangered and is it incredibly special to see the Rafflesia in bloom. People have dug them up and taken them from the reserve. For this reason it is strictly forbidden to walk the track on your own and it’s dangerous.
Carrying along up the track and we took a break at the first pit stop. It had a beautiful view of the mountains in Khao Sok National park. At this time the guide was still trying to call the ranger on his phone – the reception was bad, as you can imagine.
After a 10 minute break we continued up the track. The guide was picking vines and showing us wonders of the rainforest along the way.
A lizard was spotted and one of the guy we on the walk with (he works with reptiles), he picked it up. He showed us the reptile close up.
It was an experience to see the animal like this and in its natural habitat. It was a female and was acting dead and had the mouth open like she was catching flies. Touching the rubber skin briefly, our fellow rambler then put her back. The lizard acted dead for a little longer then scurried off into the jungle.
Moving along the path, it was steep in parts but not too tretcherous. Taking breaks to look at the wildlife which helped us to catch our breaths.
We reached the top after about a 1.5hr climb where we saw the flower. It was not as big as I expected, but it was simply beautiful.
The red and purple colours were so prominent and the inside of the flower was simply stunning.
It looked and smelt like rotting flesh, the leaves were rough in texture and it looked a bit strange. However the colours took all that away. The depth and variety of shapes and colours was simply amazing.
There was one more Rafflesia that was open at the top of the mountain. This, we were told is a rarity. There were lots of pods but they tend to only open one at a time. We were lucky to see two 🙂
At the top of the mountain we were spending time looking at the different pods and wildlife. You can continue along the track on to the waterfalls for a swim, but this is only available on the day hike.
After a while we headed back down the path, taking it easy along the way. We took our time and passed a couple of groups coming up the track.
Taking our time and listening to the jungle and look for wildlife was a pleasure. Absorbing the environment and appreciating the environment that we were in was really a delight.
Above all, the guide confidently made us a vine bracelet and a ring whilst he was walking. I thought that this was incredibly admirable of him to do this for us all. The fact that he was busily making these whilst walking through the jungle was impressive too.
I loved this hike up to see the Rafflesia. Great info from the guide, the track was not too hard (even though you need a guide), and we got to see and hear lots of wildlife and of course, got to see the Rafflesia.
If you are in Khao Sok National park, I would recommend a walk with the local guide. They have half / full day hikes and night nature trials. You can book through your hotel/hostel and your park tickets will be arranged.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Make sure you have a ticket and a registered guide as it is against park policy to walk on the trail to the Rafflesia on your own.
Do not touch the flower, the guide will take pictures of you close to it but be careful.
Wear good shoes and take plenty of water .
Take your time on the way down and appreciate the sounds and wildlife of the jungle, it’s beautiful.
I hope you liked this post, I like to hear from you so if you have any remarks or questions then please feel free to drop them into the comments box below. Thanks!