Koh Chang treks are an energetic and richly rewarding alternative to days spent lazing on the beach. The island has just three guides, with each offering half day or full day treks into the jungle interior and up its mountain peaks. The treks themselves are either fairly gentle walks tailored to all ages or more arduous endeavours suited to serious enthusiasts, but whatever your preference, the treks are a fabulous way to see another side of Koh Chang.
Arguably the most challenging of the Koh Chang treks traverses the island from west coast to east coast. This trek, guided by either Toon or Yam, both born and bred Koh Changers, starts at Klong Plu Waterfall in Klong Prao and ends at Than Mayom Waterfall. It’s an overall distance of some 12 kilometres, which takes you deep into the Koh Chang jungle as it heads from the upper tiers of one fall all the way to the upper tiers of the other.
For our day out, it suited us better to make the trek in the other direction, so at 09.00am, Toon and I were dropped off just before the main entrance to Than Mayom over on the east coast road. Following a recently widened track up the hillside, we soon reached the top and after a brief rest to catch our breath and take in the view of the offshore islands and pier in the distance below, set off inland.
Koh Chang Treks – Than Mayom
The first couple of kilometres were gentle enough with large open areas and obvious paths. Surprisingly, this land is owned, so there’s some cultivation, a combination of banana trees, rubber trees and even a couple of old rubber tappers’ houses. We picked up the river that flanked the side of the valley, one of several that combine to feed back down into Than Mayom Waterfall.
In years past, these upper reaches were popular with visitors to the island and though the paths have all but now disappeared, we did come across an utterly incongruous weather worn concrete table and chairs along the route. Most famous of all visitors was Rama V and his very own rock inscriptions can be found on one large boulder in the river bed. We also spotted a large water monitor lizard, one or two small snakes and plenty of muntjac, wild boar and civet droppings, but no actual animals.
Eventually, after several hours of hot but none too strenuous walking, we reached our destination. This was the top tier of Than Mayom, something rather special to see first hand as so few people reach this point. It also made a cracking spot for lunch, some spicy catfish and pork with holy basil.
After a quick post prandial dip in the plunge pool, we retraced our steps back down the river before starting across the centre of the island. A wonderfully eerie bamboo forest helped break up the almost constant hill ascents and descents that characterised this afternoon stage of the trek, with troops of wild monkeys in the canopy, tree shrews and red squirrels occasionally breaking the silence.
Koh Chang Treks – Klong Plu
A couple more hours in, we emerged at around 500 metres, high above the forest line on the west coast, with the sea clearly visible. You could also just make out some Klong Prao hotels’ buildings way out in the distance, shimmering in the late afternoon sun. From here, another long long descent was marked by the a pair of hornbills taking off high above us, a unique sound similar to the propellor of a small plane picking up speed.
Towards 5.00pm and shortly after a fabulous unbroken section of nothing but waist high ferns, we arrived on the very top of Klong Plu Waterfall; time to take a break again, cool off and remove a few of the leeches that had attached over the last kilometres.
All that remained now was the final hundred metres or so down to the bottom of the waterfall, where the last of the day’s visitors were still playing in the plunge pools or relaxing on the rocks.
The trek took approximately 8.5 hours at an average of 35 minutes per hour, 12 kilometres total distance or thereabouts.
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