Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex – A New UNESCO Natural World Heritage | กลุ่มป่าแก่งกระจาน มรดกทางธรรมชาติของโลก

Recently I have been doing as per the prevalent self-help recommendations: revisiting memories. I do a lot of organising of my old pictures, turning them into systematic, dates-based archives, and that effectively took me back to many happy times. So, this is good advice that I would propagate to anyone. Archive the good, and then trash the bad. Life goes on. And what we need is a happy mind.

Above: The areas of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (only parts in the Kingdom of Thailand, now a new UNESCO Natural World Heritage as of July 2021. The area stretches from north to south – from Ratchaburi to Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces – on the west side of Thailand. 

Just as I was thinking about my next to-do list, the news came in that “Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex” has just been made the latest addition as another UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. This is huge news. Wonderful news for humankind, but much greater news to the wilderness and animals. Think about it, the 2.5 million rais of the mixed forests, all for 4,089 square kilometres, homes to all kinds of animals and trees, will be protected, at least in the name, from further developments and encroachments. A kind of world-level warrant of natural protection, not to mention the prestige of the status from a world organisation such as UNESCO.

Above: A morning scene – the much-coveted sea of mist – on top of Khao Phanoen Thung in Kaeng Krachan National Park.

“‘Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex’is a vast combination of three national parks and one wildlife sanctuary located in Ratchaburi to the north and down to Prachuap Khirikhan to the south.”

“Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex” is not just a national park of the same name in Phetchaburi province. In fact, it is a vast combination of three national parks and one wildlife sanctuary located in Ratchaburi to the north and down to Prachuap Khirikhan to the south. Those include Kaeng Krachan, Kui Buri, Thai Prachan National Parks, and Pachee River Wildlife Sanctuary – all on the west side of Thailand. Immediately, this forest complex is on my bucket list. We’d go there the first chance we get.

Above: An evening at Kaeng Krachan Dam, a part of the national park, a centre of a sort for visitors in the area with all restaurants and sustenance stops.

This listing is Thailand’s third UNESCO Natural World Heritage recognition, following Thungyai – Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries in 1991 and Dong PhayayenKhao Yai Forest Complex in 2005. However, in total, Thailand now has 6 UNESCO World Heritage status, the aforementioned 3 and then another 3 in the cultural section: Ban Chiang Archeological Site (1992), Ayutthaya Historical City (1991) and Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (also 1991). We also have Phuket as UNESCO City of Gastronomy under their Creative Cities Network and Satun for being a UNESCO Global Geopark. That makes it eight UNESCO listings in all!  What about that for a small country such as us!

I am over the moon. 

Above: Birding on Khao Phanoen Thung after the morning mist.

From my photo archive, we were in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi in 2014. It was seven years ago and it was our one and only time to be there. We stayed at Saman Bird Camp Bed and Breakfast and spent maybe just two nights there. Kaeng Krachan national park is no Hua Hin or Cha-am. There are no luxury resorts of any kind, but then that’s the point of keeping the numbers of tourists low and the nature wild and high. 

Above: Taken from the website of Thailand’s UNESCO Natural World Heritage, a list of endangered wild animals that can be protected by this world status.

What I remember vividly from that trip is that we were so hungry on our way back from the morning mist up on the top of Khao Phanoen Thung. We stopped for a late breakfast on the way back at Ban Krang Visitor’s Centre and we had the best-ever lard-fried omelettes over rice. It was divine. 

Above: A scene inside the dense forest of Kaeng Krachan National Park.

“So, now Thailand has a total of 8 places recognized by UNESCO. Three Natural World Heritage Sites, three cultural and historical World Heritage Sites, one City of Gastronomy, and one Global Geopark. What about that for a small country like us?”

Above: A plague declaring the location and altitude on top of Khao Phanoen Thung.

Below is the video we took the morning we went up for the morning mist on Khao Phanoen Thung. 

Above: Among the things I still remember vividly are these divine lard-fried omelettes over rice at Ban Krang visitor’s centre.

Above: Khao Phanoen Thung is accessible in two rounds as in the picture above.

Above: A cow at Chung Hua Man Royal Project not too far from Kaeng Krachan National Park. The place made a nice stop homeward-bound.

For more information about Thailand’s Natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visit http://naturalworldheritage.dnp.go.th/ (Thai), or visit the official UNESCO’s site at https://whc.unesco.org/en/natural-world-heritage/

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Ban Chiang Archeological Site, Udon Thani – UNESCO World Heritage


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