I always tend to choose countries and states for a visit with amazing national parks which is why I chose to come see bats at the Khao Yai National Park !!
I love the greenery and the animals that I always prefer to spend time in the jungle than the city.
I just returned from my 40 days trip from Thailand, and the best of my experiences, of course, comes from the national park. Ever since I saw this spectacle of millions and millions of Bats at Khao Yai National park, I have been itching to write about it, and so here it is.
The miniature train with wooden chairs to sit arrived at the Don Muang, Bangkok station. Many people make a day trip to Khao Yai from Bangkok, but we wanted to stay overnight and explore the park more.
The train chugged along through towns and villages before the scenery changed to mountains and lush greenery.
I was touring Thailand in July, which is the onset of monsoon, and the rain had given a fresh lease of life to the mountains and planes along the way. It wasn’t easy to contain the excitement of nearing our destination and exploring the greenery.
The train pulled into the station of Pak Chong, and Khao Yai was about 40km from here. There are regular big blue truck-type buses that take you to Khao Yai every hour. Khao Yai was a Thailand that looked so different. There are high-end resorts, themed farms, and European-style malls and complexes, and on the other side, it seems like a raw village with few guesthouses.
Backpackers that we are, we settled into our guesthouse called Jungle planet.
It was 4 pm by the time we reached our guesthouse, and now it was too late to venture into the park. The clouds were already gathering in as it was monsoon season. I asked my host if there is anything we can check out at this time of the hour and Paaphon, our host, suggested visiting a bat cave where we can witness bats flying out of a cave.
I Am a little claustrophobic and was wondering if it was the best thing to do!
Caves would need some climb and that to see smelly bats coming out. Will it be worth it?
Nevertheless, we hopped into a hired taxi, aka songtaew, and he drove us to the bat caves.
We drove past the beautiful highways bordered with green grass, and then came the endless farms connected with mountains.
There were farms of sugarcane, corn, and cassava(tapioca) stretching out endlessly as much as my eyes can see. We left the highway and drove into more minor roads, and the smaller roads turned into a mud track.
A small Wat (temple) below a mountain and our taxi came to a halt.
The mountain was no small, and it was already getting dark, and I wondered what was happening. Should I have to climb this mountain now in the dark?
Our driver/guide hopped out of the car and flapped his hands like a bird flying, and asked us to wait here. Google translate was my saviour in most places, and here too, I opted for the same. After a few exchanges, he said the bats would fly out of the cave atop the mountain at around 6 pm when the sun goes down.
These are wrinkle-lipped bats, and they all fly out at dusk towards the endless farms in search of food. Soon I saw more minivans and songtaews pulling in and realized this must be some must-see thing for quite a crowd had gathered. It started to drizzle, and I was cursing my luck, for I have to keep my camera in, and pictures are not going to be good.
Nevertheless, I open the umbrella, look up and let the raindrops fall on my cheeks.
It was 6:15 pm, and I had lost hope that the bats would come out while it’s raining. I looked at my driver, he grinned and typed out “wait” in google translate.
In few minutes, I could hear the humming sound, and my guide pointed up. Few bats emerged out of the mountain top. A bunch of them came out in a hustle and spread out. I frantically pointed my point, shot the camera towards it, and few tiny dots came into the picture.
I looked up again, and another batch of bats emerged. There used to be a time in my childhood when I used to sit at the terrace of my house and watch huge collections of migratory birds crossing the evening sky. They were bigger and better, I thought to myself, but little did I know what was in store for me.
Bats of Khao Yai
It was 6.35 pm, and soon a stream of bats was coming out. Like the mountain was spitting out bats. Like someone just opened the floodgates, and the water had to gush out.
Like their internal alarm clock went off, and they knew its time to rush out. Out they came in groups and groups. When they come out, the bats find it easy to follow the other bats rather than spreading out.
They look out for prey and return to the cave by 7 am; however, they do not come as groups when they return. And, so came out a stream of bats. They were flying far away into the land and swaying up and down in the sky. Like they were dancing to a tune of music that only they can hear.
They were forming patterns in the sky, beautiful patterns. I wished if it were a clear sky day with a beautiful orange sunset, these patterns would have looked so mesmerizing. They danced their way into the fields. And my point and shoot were not so good to capture the wave patterns in the sky.
It was 7.00 pm, and there was no sign of stopping. The bats kept coming out. Millions and millions of them kept coming out. I went wow aloud many times. I stopped taking pictures, sat on the open songtaew, and watched the show of the bats of Khao Yai national park.
The show doesn’t seem to end. Some of the bats were zipping right past me close to the ground. The other vehicles had left by now, and the rain had caught on speed. I put on my raincoat and was looking at them, jaw dropped.
My driver grinned at me to say it was getting late. I had no mind leaving the place, though it was getting dark, and the visibility was getting poorer and poorer. We left the area around 7.30 pm, and there was no sign of an end to the show. The bats kept coming out. I strained my neck and looked longingly at the mouth of the mountain from where they were emerging.
The waves in the sky continued as the darkness fell upon.
This was an incredible spectacle that I have never seen before. It took my breath away. I was amazed to realise that it is an everyday phenomenon. And how these bats know precisely when to fly out and return to their dwellings.
If you are in Khao Yai, then this is a must-visit place. I retired for the day, still awed by sight. The rain was now lashing hard, and that means a wet slippery national park exploration tomorrow. Sigh.
Nevertheless, today was a good day.
A short clip of the bats flying out of the cave,
How to Reach Khao Yai National Park
Best way is to reach Pak Chong and take Blue truck from the main road out of the Railway Station. Taxis are also available from Pak Chong.