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Pick-Up & Drop
Trip Location: Chiang Mai
Join us on this remarkable adventure exploring the pristine forests of Thailand's northern hinterlands near the border with Myanmar. Reviving an ancient trade route, the program offers travellers an unparalleled insight into the region's rich biodiversity, cultures and customs. Our journey starts from Khun Khan National Park with its lush jungles and unspoilt forests along the little known Old Elephant Trail. This trek offers travellers an unparalleled insight into the rich biodiversity, cultures and customs of Thailand's northern hinterlands but with the construction of a road in the 1950s, the trail was abandoned. After years of solitude, the trail is now the perfect route for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Traversing over ridgelines and through forest-covered hills and mist-enveloped mountains, travellers will trek through some of Thailand's most remote natural areas and be rewarded with sweeping panoramas of lush forests and wildlife-spotting opportunities in the mountains. Evenings on the trek are spent amongst the locals providing an opportunity to learn about traditional culture and a lifestyle unchanged for generations.
You will be met upon arrival at the Chiang Mai Airport and transferred to your hotel.
Your guide will meet you in the morning and you will make the overland trip to Mae Hong, passing through one of the most beautiful mountain highways. After stopping for lunch in Pai district, we continue on to visit one of the largest caves in the Northern Thailand, Lod Cave. Lod Cave contains three main chambers, the first of which is a 21m high “giant pillar cave”. The second is the “doll cave” which as the name suggests, contains many different stone formations which bizarrely resemble dolls. The doll cave also contains an ancient wall painting dating back over 2,000 years. The third is referred to as the “coffin cave”. From within the doll cave, we board a bamboo raft from then climb up to see the remains of a wooden coffin, which is roughly the same age as the ancient cave painting, before we return to the entrance. later in the afternoon, we arrive in Mae Hong Son where we check in to our comfortable accommodation at The Fern Resort. The remainder of the day is free at leisure to relax and enjoy the resort's beautiful, rural setting. this evening, dinner is served at the Fern Restaurant.
This morning we rise early to set off for our next five days of hiking. After breakfast, we transfer to the trail head by 4WD vehicle from where we set off, following the trails which take us down the lush, green Ban Nam Hoo valley. Some parts of the trail can be very steep and narrow so we will take our time. Our route takes us through the different layers of the valley, and we can learn from our local ethnic Karen guide about the different fauna and flora which surrounds you. Later in the day, we will ascend a steep path up to around 1,650m, passing by a variety of different wild orchids for which this area is famous. The wide ranging panoramic views from the top definitely make the ascent worthwhile. We then descend into Huai Hee village which will be our final destination for the day. This village is the first ethnic Karen village to successfully set up a community based tourism (CBT) scheme to provide the community with a supplementary income which is used to finance projects including their wild orchid conservation programme. Their livelihood remains primarily based on rotational farming on the surrounding mountain slopes. Visitors stay in pairs with their home stay family and can learn about their simple, sustainable lifestyles.
The village stirs early to the sound of its rural setting. After a local style breakfast, we venture out from the village to explore more of the surrounding Doi Pui National Park. During your hike today, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about how the ethnic Karen people live as well as their sustainable use the natural resources of the area. Their sustainable farming and gathering methods are key to why the Thai government have allowed them to remain residing within the boundaries of the national park. Today we will ascend to the very summit of Mae Hong Son “Doi Pui” mountain, at 1,722m where we can enjoy our local lunch prepared by your host family with the stunning mountain views. We hike back down to the village through the wild orchid conservation area, arriving back late afternoon. This evening you can join your host family and learn about Karen cooking, the ingredients they use and the techniques they use to achieve their traditional dishes
Another early morning start today. After breakfast we bid farewell to our host families and start hiking along the gravel road out of the village. After around 1km, we turn off and follow the winding trail for roughly 17km to reach Ban Huai Tong Kaw, nestled in a river valley. Ban Huai Tong Kaw is another great place to explore the traditional Karen culture. The village is accessible by road, yet the community has tried hard to preserve their traditional lifestyles and knowledge. The village is still home to traditional blacksmiths, herbal gurus, spiritual leaders, ritual singers and sword dancers. Additionally, nearby there is an impressive waterfall cascading through a jungle setting. Dinner tonight is at our homestay after which we’ll witness a sword dance at the village centre.
Today we will hike down into the Mae Samad River Valley and visit the largest waterfall in Mae Hong Son. There will be many river crossings and much steep terrain to cover. The water levels, depending on the season, can be as much as 1 meter deep in parts but your guides will assist you. Our final destination today will be the village of Huai Kung which is a small Buddhist village, consisting of approximately ten households with no direct road access. The village is situated nearby the Mae Samad River. They call this village “Baan Lek Nai Pa-Yai”. It means 'small village situated in the ancient forest'. The villagers are dependent on fresh water fishing in addition to hunting game, paddy rice farming and forest gathering. Huai Kung Village is a great spot for swimming where we will enjoy a fish dinner.
Today, the final day of our hike we can enjoy a more relaxed hike down into the Mae Samad River Valley. The day’s hiking does involve more river crossings and some steep terrain however. We descend down through a deciduous forest which consists of a lot of teak woods, bamboos, and red woods. The hike will take around 4-5 hours to reach Pa-Bong Village where we will meet our drivers to head back to The Fern Resort (30mins drive). Please note: During June-November, the trail from Ban Huai Goong will be changed to the trail that leads to Ban Nam Hoo Hai Jai. This is necessary due to the higher water levels.
Visit a longneck Karen village at Ban Huai Seau Tao. See local lifestyles of the exotic Padong tribe or known as Longneck Karen who originally lived in Myanmar and then moved to Mae Hong Son about 25 years ago. Afterwards, visit beautiful Shan style temples. One of which is located on the hilltop;“Wat Phra That Doi Kong Moo” overlooking the valley village. The next temple is located by the lake. Named; “Wat Jong Kum-Jong Klang”. The roof edge is decorated with the hand crafted zinc sheeting. Also visit a mini-museum which contains old wood carving dolls originally from ancient Myanmar. Lunch will be at a local Thai restaurant. In the afternoon, we transfer to Mae Hong Son airport, and fly back to Chiang Mai where the trip concludes.
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