sign in a cave in Laos

7 November 2011

Crocodile Cave, Ko Tarutao, Thailand

Ko Tarutao is a small island in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Satun, the southernmost province of Thailand. It is part of Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, which is a large archipelago of 51 islands approximately 30 km from Pak Bara in La-Ngu district, 60 km northwest of Satun town.

The islands are north of Langkawi in Malaysia and form part of the same geological group. In fact the main island of Tarutao is only 5 km from Langkawi. These islands are formed of granite and allied rocks, and there is also much limestone. This limestone is the oldest limestone in the area, some 450 million years old.

Tham Chorakhe or Crocodile Cave is a tourist attraction not to be missed.

A small boat took us up river, past lots of mangroves with occasional limestone cliffs jutting out of the forests.

From the jetty a boardwalk leads over mangrove swamps, then steps go down to the cave entrance. The river enters the cave so a pontoon walkway has been constructed on very noisy polystyrene blocks, which squeaked annoyingly as we walked along. The causeway swayed and wobbled, so I had to make sure I was steady before taking pictures of the stalactite formations.

We came to a large dry chamber and we able to explore this with the help of electric lights. It was a nice cave with a lot of stalactites and stalagmites.

The other tourists turned round and went back out, but we were cavers and we could see the far end of the cave ahead, beckoning us. We were separated from it by mud and water but as we were wearing our old caving shoes we thought it wouldn't be a problem. However we weren't expecting the mangrove mud to be so thick and sticky and glutinous. It took a tenacious hold of our shoes and it was a real struggle to move as with each step we sank in mud above ankle level. We were getting nowhere, so decided to give up. Even getting back to the dry chamber was a real struggle, the mud certainly didn't want to give up its grip on our shoes.

Behind the Park HQ is Toe Boo cliff and this is a great place to climb up to see the views and also the sunsets. We were lucky and had glorious sunsets a couple of evenings.

Ko Rang Nok or Birds Nest Island is a small island off the south coast. Locals collect the swiftlets' nests for the Chinese market. There are some coral reefs off the island. Sea gypsies and pirates once plied these waters, today fishermen try to make a living.

See more on Tarutao.

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

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