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Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail – Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand with the summit being 2,565 meters above the sea level. It is a beautiful natural park in northern Thailand (Chiang Mai province) with many fine water falls and a mixture of Moist Evergreen Forest, Pine forest and Mixed Deciduous Forest. It is a good place to look at birds (as well as insects, flowers and so on) but what you see is always a matter of luck in my experience. There are however, two excellent sites (walking trails) near the summit which are well worth the effort! The first, The Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail, is found at kilometer 42 on the road to the summit.  It has been developed as an ‘educative nature trail’ and there are quite a few signs (in Thai and English) along the well-maintained trail.  There is a 200 baht entrance fee which pays for a guide to accompany you, although mine did not speak much English.  Some visitors appear to balk at the fee (about £4 in British money), which is probably a good money spinner for the park (and local guides), but at least it means that the trails are well maintained. It is an enjoyable, albeit a rather strenuous walk, which feels longer than the reported 3 km, and takes at least a couple of hours with plenty of time for viewing stops and rest breaks.  I have done it a number of times and had good views of Mrs Gould’s sunbird and Yellow-bellied Fantails when I visited in February 2012.  I returned and walked the trail on 8th November 2013 and saw large numbers of Bar-throated (Chestnut tailed) minlas, which were very confiding.

Bar-throted minla
Bar-throted minla

The trail rises up through evergreen forest with an attractive waterfall (see below) before opening out on to grassland leading onto an escarpment with fine views of the Mae Pan river valley valleys below.  It is a good place to see raptors if you are lucky although sometimes the view is obscured by swirling clouds of mist.  There are a number of lookout places and easy wooden walkways which lead back down to the forest again.  There is an interesting feature called Pha-Ngam Noi rock out crop which is reputedly composed of eroded granite .

Waterfall on Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail - Doi Inthanon
Waterfall on Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail – Doi Inthanon

Waterfall on Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail – Doi Inthanon National Park

Pha-Ngam Noi rock out crop
Pha-Ngam Noi rock outcrop

There are also lovely views of the forest canopy through which the trail winds back to the beginning.

Forest canopy Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail - Doi Inthanon National Park
Forest canopy Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail – Doi Inthanon National Park

Views of the forest canopy on open part of the Kew Mae Pan trail, Doi Inthanon.

Forest canopy Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail - Doi Inthanon National Park
Forest canopy Kew Mae Pan, Nature Trail – Doi Inthanon National Park

It is also a good place to see flowering red rhododendrons (probably best in January) as well as interesting plants and orchids, such as this white one.

White orchid Doi Inthanon
White orchid Doi Inthanon

it is also quite a good place for insects; there were lots of large beetles flying around (despite it being quite cold) when I visited in Nov 2013, including this impressive purple beetle (slightly out of focus!) which made quite a loud noise when picked up!

Purple dung beetle Doi Inthanon

On the previous visit (Feb 2012) I came across this butterfly (probably a lycaenid).

Unidentified butterfly on  Doi Inthanon
Unidentified butterfly on Doi Inthanon

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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