Nam Nao National Park, Phetchabun, Thailand is a good location for birding and bird photography.
The area of public access comprises of a montane ecosystem with mixed forests including areas of pines. It can get very cool between November and February especially at night with frost recorded there. Day time temperatures during this period are rarely above 30C and it is usually very pleasant. That said the area receives a high amount of rainfall outside of the cool season and even in the winter leeches can be an issue in the dense forest behind the park HQ and along the stream.
Nam Nao NP probably has one of the best maintained trail systems of any Thai national park. There are several to chose from ranging from a short 1km loop to others covering up to 10km. All trails can be started from near the HQ building(car park) or joined at another couple of points depending which track you follow. Trails are clearly signposted and in one case paved, although the distances involved are contradictory in a couple of places!
The access road from Highway 12 is about 2 km long and leads to Nam Nao Park HQ and visitor centre which is at an elevation of around 800m(2600′).
Movement around the park at night is restricted to the paved roads around the bungalows, HQ area, shops and campground. This is for personal safety as the area has plenty of wild Asian Elephants that are kept out by an electric fence surrounding the HQ, accommodation and camping areas.
Birding and Bird Photography Nam Nao National Park
According to e-Bird some 319 species of bird have been recorded in Nam Nao National Park as at April 2019. The campgrounds, being more open, but with plenty of mature trees, are great for observing and photographing woodpeckers along with regular forest dwellers. These includes flocks of White-crested Laughingthrush and groups of Red-billed Blue Magpie that have become accustomed to humans and will often approach very close.
The trails are also a mine of bird and animal life although photography can be a challenge under the dark canopy especially around the stream area. White-crowned Forktail, Common Green Magpie, Trogons and Broadbills are all possible along with several species of Thrush.
The area around the HQ buildings, car-park and bungalows is also worth exploring on foot as mixed feeding flocks are often seen early and late in the day.
This is a selection of birds photographed at Nam Nao.
Visiting Nam Nao National Park Phetchabun Thailand
Nam Nao National Park, perhaps because of it’s location, does not receive a huge amount of visitors interested in observing the bird life. That said visiting the park at the weekend might well lead to disappointment given that it is popular with Thai tourists especially in the cool season. Often the campgrounds are full during this time and large school parties stay in the youth centre there.
Nam Nao NP is best visited in your own vehicle although it is possible to catch the Lom Sak -Khon Kaen bus which will drop you at the gates. A friendly ranger might even give you a lift to park HQ from the gate. Otherwise it’s a 2 km walk!
The park has a variety of accommodation to rent in the form of bungalows, these vary in price but range from 1000-4000Baht a night(per bungalow) sleeping from 4 to 30 people. Discounts are available mid-week. For example a room for 4 persons with fans, a private toilet and shower costs 700 Baht. There are also two large campgrounds, where you can pitch your own tent or hire equipment from the park.
Accommodation as outlined above can be booked at Nam Nao in the visitor centre, on the day you arrive, which in most cases is fine given that it is rarely full midweek. For weekend visits and local holidays it might be worth booking in advance from the Thai national parks website.
The park also offers basic fresh food and supplies from a few shops and a restaurant located near the HQ. Although whether they are open very much depends on the whims of the owner(s). You can even buy leech socks from one outlet which for 80 Baht a pair could be a sound investment.
Foreigners pay 200 Baht each and there is a 30 Baht charge per vehicle. If you are staying in the park then only one entrance fee is charged for your visit-providing you do not leave.
If you would like any more information or help in visiting Nam Nao National Park, Phetchabun, Thailand please contact the author. Or if you would enjoy a day or two with the author birding the park please read this article.