The Sea Bees Jungle Tour – Cave diving in Thailand

A long long time ago, in a distant galaxy far far away – an idea had its birth on the small island of Phuket…

So what is Sea Bees, a diving company,  doing in the jungle some of you will ask?

 

Well, we did as well and found out the answer at the same time: discovering new dive spots – of course! With a great range of  dive sites in the sea – we keep looking for something new and different, more exotic…well, we are living in a tropical country. This is why we thought of combining the surrounding jungle with diving in the enormous lake at Khao Sok National Park.

 

In order to tell our five guests what to expect and what they can explore, we simply had to do this trip ourselves. Our goal was to make this as original as possible, so none of the participants had any idea of what to expect.   One week before departure …. the PARTICIPANTS are chosen: Holger, our Great ‘Leader’ Alex, Instructor and Front Office Staff Gela, Alex’s girlfriend and with a new career as a model Björn, Holger’s nephew, perfect timing as he was here on holiday and also a model (though he did not know it) Ines, Front Office Staff, chosen because she does not dive and, therefore, the author of this diary and  an extremely reluctant model.

 

And, last but not least, Frank, professional photographer and thus the most important member of our expedition, because details of the trip will be published in “Tauchen” – the German dive magazine.

sea bees diving team in khao sok nationalpark

 

At last, Departure Day arrives… We leave around lunchtime. Holger and his nephew have all the right clothing for a 3 day jungle trip. I have no proper shoes or long sleeved shirts – I was told that we should behave like “real tourists”… Heading Northwards, we stop off at the airport to meet our most important member – Frank. From the plane straight to the jungle – Frank does not miss a beat. 

 

We are very lucky on our 3 hour ride up to the National Park – it is perfect weather! Smiles all round right up until we arrive at the National Park – then it starts to rain. Now I know why it is known as “rain” forest! We arrive at our destination and our home for the next 2 nights to be greeted by  the mosquitoes who are out for fresh blood – where is my mosquito spray?

 

khao sok nationalpark

 

The tree houses are surprisingly comfortable: fan, wardrobe, a mosquito net above the double bed, real sheets (!!!), and a separate bathroom with toilet and shower. In front of the little house is a large terrace to spend the evening on… Unfortunately, Frank and I were given a room with a rather narrow double bed – neither Frank nor I are happy about it – complete strangers who have to share a room and a bed.

 

But we assure ourselves that we will work it out. We will see later… We go off to dinner at the resort’s restaurant.  To build group morale, we order several dishes and everybody tries all the dishes. Even the beer is shared between us. The food is rich and tasty but not spicy enough for those who have definitely been here a long time. A couple of hours later, we meet on Holger’s terrace for a last drink and to discuss our plans for the trip.

 

First thing on our schedule today – canoeing through the jungle. We leave a bit late – somebody forgot to set their alarm… The sun is shining – the rain stopped overnight. The landscape that surrounds us is stunning. Dark green jungle mixed with chalk rock, calm water alternating with rougher stretches. We spot our first wild monkey, we are amazed.

 

This amazement does not last that long – we discover our first snake! I hate snakes – if any of you are interested in that fact. I am losing patience as Alex starts to shake the branch to get a reaction from the snake to react – I am directly underneath! With a slightly hysterical tone, I ask our canoe guide, Lek, to move the canoe away slightly (at least one kilometre!).

 

We stop at a calm and beautiful bend where it is possible to swim. A great place to cool down and feel like “Tarzan” – a rope is hanging down from a tree which allows us to jump into the water.  Just to warn you all: this is a) not as easy as it looks; and b) you will get muscle ache from it – as I did. But it was such fun! Then, as is usual for Sea Bees, our driver is already waiting for us at the end of this trip to take us back to the resort for lunch.

 

canoe at khao sok national park

 

After an excellent lunch at the resort, we go elephant trekking. This is a real ‘adventure’ for me. Not just because of the adventurous swinging on the elephants back at a height of 5m above the ground (well, it certainly felt like it!) but because of the scorpion that decided to rest on my right arm. DON’T PANIC!!! It was really not easy to stay calm at that moment – and the scorpion was not that easy to remove either.

 

It may have liked this sightseeing point, but… In the end, I was able to blow it off my arm without any harm to it or myself.  A huge sigh of relief. But I did not have much time to recover as I needed all my concentration not to fall off the elephant’s back into a big mud pit on the ground. It really is quite amazing how calmly and easily these jungle giants wade through a river bed I would not even attempt to cross. I had had enough adventure after just one day and told the Boss so.

 

He just  smiled – objective achieved!

 

elefant trekking at khao sok nationalpark

 

In the evening, we went exploring the (not very) exciting nightlife of Baan Khao Sok. We walked up and down the only street twice and finished in a ridiculously big restaurant. But this turned out to be an excellent choice – the food was delicious and, as usual there was too much, but it was spicier this time.

 

Holger and Frank are in their element and enjoying the feast… The second night in our tree house is as exciting as the first with all the strange and fascinating jungle noises around – but the bed is still too small…  

 

Diving at Khao Sok Lake

 

At last – diving! Two dives are planned for today – wall and cave dives at Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park. Logistics are a bit more difficult because we are moving to swimming cottages on the lake. This means packing everything up and getting it all into the car and then placing it all into a small longtail boat – sweat pours off everyone’s brow as the sun is beating down on us. 

 

The ride over the lake compensates though – a beautiful, gigantic water landscape surrounds us. A quick look at our sleeping accommodation calms Frank down. Having a private bathroom means no sharing the facilities with the other inhabitants of and visitors to the jungle. The room contains two large mattresses with pillows and blankets and a separate bathroom.

 

Unfortunately, they are not that private – you can hear every noise especially your neighbours’ nocturnal activities… (be warned – no soundproofing…)

 

rock formations in khao sok national park

 

After leaving our luggage in the cottages, we leave for the first dive on the wall. Gela and Alex are given a few pieces of advice on how to behave underwater in front of the camera – and off they go! Along the wall they are diving into the deep through sunken forests.

 

At 20 metres’ depth, Frank is getting into it and takes pictures of Gela and Alex in the beautiful emerald green waters. In the meantime, Holger and Björn disappear down to 40 metres to investigate. Afterwards, he is really enthusiastic about his dive.

 

Gela and Alex are doing a good job and are rewarded with some nice, surreal pictures. All of us are quite hungry now – me too as sunbathing is such hard work – especially on a small uncomfortable boat.

 

underwater photo of khao sok lake

 

After a quick lunch, we reach the highlight of the day – diving in a cave. The entrance to the cave is like the whole cave opens up above water level. This is a fascinating dive, whether for beginners or those without a speciality. After the entrance, the cave goes down to a depth of 20 metres with fantastic structures formed by stalagmites and stalactites. The fish life is excellent – really big ones according to Alex (but then he’s a man – everything is big!).

 

cave diving at khao sok lake

 

Swimming in the lake is great too. Clear fresh water at bathtub temperature – bliss! To get into the boat seems to be more difficult then just jumping into the water.  I don’t want to make a fool out of myself… the first attempt is successful  – I can definitely live with the bruise on my shin!

 

 

khao sok lake scenery green jungle

 

After a relaxing and very enjoyable tour of the lake, we return to our water bungalows at sunset. We have a passable dinner and but, at last : we are finally allowed to see all the photos taken during the trip… Smiles all round and great shots but you will have to wait for these.  

 

Third day of our jungle diving tour

 

Into the jungle again! Breakfast is like dinner – not brilliant but it fills our stomachs. Then it is time to say goodbye and everything has to be put into the small boat again. On our ride back, we get the chance to enjoy the great landscape for a last time. Our walk to the waterfall is a bit rough. I have never jogged through jungle before – in fact, I hate jogging but there is a first time for everything.

 

Our photographer, Frank, is almost running through the jungle – and we all tried to keep up with him but this was not successful. At the end of the path, he has disappeared off with Gela! Lek, our guide and Alex, Gela’s boyfriend, are off searching for them. This gives the rest of us a break and the time to look for and remove the leeches on our legs. I do not have any (lucky me)  – probably because they know I have already survived snakes and scorpions! We are just finished with this disgusting task as the others appears.

 

Now it is time to cool down in the inviting water – we really enjoy this after our ‘power walk.  Besides, we have to walk back afterwards.

 

swimming and diving at khao sok river

 

I would rather describe our return journey through the jungle as a power walk, because we have a full schedule with side trips to Khao Lak and putting people on flights. The leeches are there again on our way back and I am lucky that I only found two on my legs. The way back felt much longer and I was never so happy to get a shower!

 

beautiful khao sok landscape

 

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 NOTES:

  • I survived – snakes, scorpions, leeches and three days of sharing a room and bed with a complete stranger (yes, somebody at home was not that happy about the “sharing” part)!
  • It was a great trip for all of us and I can highly recommend it. Definitely an unforgettable experience!

 

diving with whalesharks in thailand

 

For those of you who are curious:

  • We will be offering this trip from November onwards. It is being planned with a maximum of 12 people and will last 14 days in all, combining the jungle tour, liveaboard trip and day diving.
  • The first night will now be at our Palm Garden Resort in Khao Lak and the first two dives will be scheduled for Bonsoon Wreck with the jungle trip commencing afterwards.
  • Afterwards, one night will be spent at Palm Garden Resort Phuket and  the 3 day liveaboard trip starts including a big party on Koh Phi Phi.

Are you interested in this offer? Please dont hesitate to get in touch with us for further information!