I knew hiking a mountain forest in 98% humidity in Thailand was going to be a challenge. I also knew that it would be slow-going, as there would be so many photo opportunities! It would take over three hours to reach the summit of Ngorn Nak or ‘Dragon Crest’ Mountain – a sacred mountain towards the north of Krabi in Thailand.
At the start of the hike, the forest trail led through lush jungle. Big leaves and bright flowers greeted us – along with a little shrine for the dragon mountain.
The jungle canopy provided welcome shade from the sun. We could hear a mountain stream burbling behind the trees and local children were laughing and splashing in its pools. The path opened up and the river finally came into view. We splashed the cool water on our heads and hands and then carried on up the mountain, slowly but surely…
We then came across a small clearing where sunlight was warming the dusty earth and wind-fallen berries were bursting open in the sun. I suddenly realised that the trembling ‘leaves’ on the ground by my feet were actually dozens of butterflies!
Their camouflage allowed them to blend into the leaf litter perfectly. They were feeding on the fallen berries and warming their wings. It was a wonderful surprise.
I saw something glint in the sunlight as it fluttered down from the trees and I assumed it was a butterfly. But it landed on the floor nearby. I picked it up and it glowed so brightly in my hand. It was a bright silver petal – or perhaps the inside of a tropical seed case? It was simply beautiful. The tall tropical trees must have been flowering above us in the canopy, out of sight. We began to notice petals and seed cases fluttering down to the forest floor.
The walk soon turned into a steep climb. We made our way up naturally forming steps between the roots of the trees. Like a stairway to heaven, this root ladder seemed to have no end in sight. Any conversation became very limited as all our energy went into the climb as we gripped hold of roots, vines and trunks for support. (Yes, that is me up there!..)
After such an epic climb it was exhilarating to be at the top of the mountain. We looked out over the stretch of the Andaman Sea between Krabi and Phuket. It really was breathtaking seeing these tiny islands from such a high vantage point. A little further along the trail there was another panoramic viewpoint, this time facing away from the sea – revealing a deep valley and cliffs in the distance.
Eventually we had to head back down the mountain. As we entered into the shade of the trees they suddenly came alive with a cacophony of cicadas serenading us. We looked up into the trees as swathe after swathe of forest burst into the noisy, shrill song.
Back in the cool of the jungle we were also treated to a couple of small reptile sightings – beautiful little lizards scuttling through the leaf litter on the floor. It was a perfect end to a fabulous hike.