Video Trip Report : Sunday 26th of September Trip into the Mountains from Baan Mae Kampong A Beautiful ‘Eco-Tourism’ Village, Home of Flight of the Gibbons
I went on a guided hike from Baan Mae Kampong (บ้านแม่กำปอง) the other day. Was a wonderful trip, the forest over there is beautiful and relatively unspoilt.
It took me around 1:30 minutes to drive over to Baan Mae Kampong including a long stop at a petrol station to buy coffee and water and snacks for my hike. Was a nice trip over there out along route 118 and through the forest. Saw a lot of Thai push bikers out early in the morning cycling up the mountain. If you continue past Mae Kampong you continue down into Chae Son national park in Lampang province the other side of the mountain and I guess the bikers would have been heading over there.
Video Introducing Mae Kampong
Apologies for the vertical letter box style of the video. This is the first time I took video with my Nokia N97 cell phone and I held it vertically instead of horizontally when videoing. Will know next time to hold it the other way round. If you open the video to full screen though I think it is very watchable.
Baan Mae Kampong is actually at 1037 m above sea level rather than 1300 m as stated in the video.
I was really impressed with Baan Mae Kampong. I think the local community organised eco-tourism type development path they are on is great. They seem to be doing a wonderful job of sustainably developing the area preserving local culture and community and the forest at the same time as bringing in tourist dollars and money through small industries. People were very friendly and the town had a great feel to it. I think their development model is well worth supporting and am very happy to take my tourist dollars or baht to them!
I had been given the phone number of the daughter of the phuyai baan (village head) who organizes guides and speaks English 0856754598 or 0895594797. The guide service is entirely organised by local people as is there home stay and camping service which you can also ask about at the number provided.
After arriving I found the phuyai of the village in the main restaurant in town on the right hand side roughly in the middle of town about 300 m after Wat Mae Kampong. I had a great breakfast while waiting for my guide to arrive.
My guide Vichian Buajan was excellent! He had been living in Mae Kampong and working mostly in the forest for 20 years. He knew the forest very well and was able to point out animal tracks (he used to enjoy hunting in the forest but now he doesn’t have much time for that) and tell me a lot about the flora and fauna and use of the forest. He only spoke Thai though and he says there are no guides who speak English yet although the kids in the village are now learning English at school. I would not be confident to do this hike without a guide even with the gps track I now have since often we went straight through the forest not following any track. Possibly though the first part of this trek through the waterfall and up to the ridge could be done without a guide using just the gps track.
Pricing of the guide service was really great value. I paid 300 B since I went on a longer hike, normally the guide is 200 B and there is also a 100 B fee per person towards maintenance of the village.
I would suggest when we do this hike with the hiking group that we split our group into smaller groups of perhaps 4-8 hikers each group, arrange car pooling or transport according to group and each group hires a guide and goes at their own pace. We could do an advanced and an easier hike from the same location.
Mae Kampong Waterfall
Our hike started right from Baan Mae Kampong itself. We walked through the beautiful seven tier Mae Kampong waterfall.
Above the Waterfall
Above the waterfall we were already in fairly deep forest. There was coffee and tea planted in the forest itself underneath the tree canopy.
At the top of the Ridge
We followed the river up most of the way in a valley and eventually came out at a ridge which forms the border between Lampang and Chiang Mai provinces. We looked down in Chae Son National Park on the over side. There were trees and forest as far as you could see. Back on the Chiang Mai side there was also an impressive view of the forest and on a clear day you can see Chiang Mai town clearly in the distance. Since the day was not so clear, it is now the rainy season, our view was obstructed by clouds but still impressive. There is a view point on the ridge here and a forestry protection station for Lampang forest rangers. There is a road that runs up to this point and so if people want they could have a car waiting for them here to take them back down. I believe this was only a 4 km walk to here.
Following the Ridge Onwards and Upwards to 1795 m Mornlaan Peak
Have not taken any video past this point as the battery was running low on my cell phone, a Nokia N97, which I took the video on.
We continued on up the ridge of the mountain to the peak of Mornlaan mountain which was 1795 m above sea level, higher than the Doi Pui peak, the highest peak in the Doi Pui Suthep National Park. In total to get to the peak from Baan Mae Kampong we climbed 830 m in 5.86 km, so it was a strenuous climb. I wondered why I was so tired as I had been told that Baan Mae Kampong was 1300 m above sea level rather than 1037 m as it actually is, so I thought I had climbed 500 m rather than 800 m. Had a nice rest on the peak that is an open clearing which would have good views down to Chiang Mai if it wasn’t cloudy. Even with the cloud cover we had in the rainy season was quite something! While resting at the top of the mountain we heard thunder so decided to get a move on down the mountain.
Took some pics from the peak.
Following another Ridge Down to Baan Mae Kampong
We came back down through the forest, often off any kind of track but moving through forest with sparse undergrowth that was easy to move through. We saw lots of wild pig tracks, cow tracks and we found a porcupine thorn! We also came across several groups of people gathering edibles from the forest.
Fresh Coffee for Sale
Back in Baan Mae Kampong I bought some fresh coffee for only 150 B per 500 grams, a very competitive price and all the coffee is grown locally, in the forest coffee plantation I had walked through. I think I was told it was arabica coffee. They also sell freshly made coffee to drink then and there.