Expedition Yala 2

Explore Herpetology’s most consistently productive expedition for showstoppers returns for a second time in 2024! This time, it will be 10 nights during Southern Thailand's rainy season, where the forest is constantly alive and thriving with remarkable herpetofauna of all shapes and sizes. The locations on this expedition never fail to impress, beginning around towering limestone karst formations and ending in a giant primary forest complex home to elephants, tapir, leopard and even tigers. Every single time we host this expedition, it is jam-packed with sensational species and surprise encounters. This time will be no different!

Expedition Yala 2

Explore Herpetology’s most consistently productive expedition for showstoppers returns for a second time in 2024! This time, it will be 10 nights during Southern Thailand's rainy season, where the forest is constantly alive and thriving with remarkable herpetofauna of all shapes and sizes. The locations on this expedition never fail to impress, beginning around towering limestone karst formations and ending in a giant primary forest complex home to elephants, tapir, leopard and even tigers. Every single time we host this expedition, it is jam-packed with sensational species and surprise encounters. This time will be no different!

Start: 18th November 2024      |      End: 28th November 2024      |      Meeting location: Hat Yai      |      Spaces available: 6


Included in the tour: 
 - Expert herpetologist guides.
- Transport throughout the tour.
- Accommodation.
- Meals & Drinks.
- National park entry fees.
- Drinking water.
Nights 1 & 10: Hat Yai
Hat Yai is the largest city in peninsular Thailand. Regular flights from Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore make it easily accessible to all travellers. Hat Yai is the most convenient location to meet and a great place to search for certain species of herpetofauna which are difficult to find later on the trip. For example, this area is one of the best places to encounter the small-spotted coral snake (Calliophis maculiceps) , while Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) and Asian vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina) are also common. Various colubrids show up every time we hike in this area, including some rare species such as Kopstein's bronzeback (Dendrelaphis kopsteini). Murray's house gecko (Hemidactylus murrayi) and iconic tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) are both common around the edges of town but cannot be seen further south. The delightful spotted litter frog (Leptobrachium hendricksoni) is extremely abundant here, and we were treated to an encounter with the incredible horrible bug-eyed frog (Theloderma horridum) on our last tour. 

For the first and last nights of the expedition, we will be staying in a comfortable hotel on the edge of Hat Yai. There are many options for food with numerous restaurants and shops within walking distance of the hotel, and a swimming pool for those who want to relax in the sun. This will also be the final opportunity to grab any supplies from large shopping centres before we depart on our journey into Yala.



Nights 2- 3: Than To
Our first herping destination in Yala province is Than To, an exquisite landscape of evergreen rainforests and overgrown plantations on rolling hills interrupted by extraordinary limestone karst formations. We have several different herping sites within this district, including a remote upland forest road where we have encountered multiple Sumatran cobras (Naja sumatrana) in the past, the base of humid limestone cliffs where the extremely rare dragon snake (Xenodermus javanicus) has been sighted, and rocky rivers in mature lowland forest with a high chance to encounter Malayan krait (Bungarus candidus), Thailand’s most venomous snake, and huge mangrove cat snakes (Boiga melanota). On our last trip here, dreams came true when a 4 meter king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) appeared at night along the river. Keep your eyes on the trees, as this forest is packed with arboreal snakes and stunning lizards, with Smith’s green eyed gecko (Gekko smithii), great angle-headed lizard (Gonocephalus grandis) and Armoured horned dragon (Acanthosaura armata) just a few species we regularly encounter here. Impressive tree frogs such as the Johor flying frog (Zhangixalus prominanus) and Wallace's flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) have been observed here on both our past expeditions to the area. 

For our time here, we will be staying in air-conditioned accommodation situated at the base of limestone karst formations. The rare roughneck monitor lizard (Varanus rudicollis) has been observed in the resort garden, while on our recent trip we were treated with a vibrant blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgata) and Kopstein's bronzeback (Dendrelaphis kopsteini) right outside our bungalows! This area has consistently been the most productive area for snake diversity across the last two years, hence why we have extended the time here to 4 nights for this expedition. 



Nights 6 - 9: Bang Lang
Bang Lang National Park is part of the expansive Belum-Temengor forest complex which extends across the Malaysian border and contains some of the most diverse forest in the Malay peninsula; home to elephants, tigers, Malayan tapirs and so much more. While our chances of encountering these large mammals are extremely low, the primary rainforest biotope is bursting with herpetofauna and we have a great chance to encounter some of the most sensational snakes in the entire region. Here, we have seen several truly giant female Hagen’s pit-vipers (Trimeresurus hageni), while adult female Wagler’s pit-viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) are also more common than many other places in Southern Thailand. In the past, we were lucky enough to find a female Wirot’s pit-viper (Craspedocephalus wiroti), an extremely cryptic species which clings on at a few isolated primary forest localities in far Southern Thailand. Beyond vipers, Bang Lang provides us with the greatest opportunity to find Southern Thailand’s unreal diversity of exciting elapids. Road cruising here regularly produces Malayan banded coral snake (Calliophis intestinalis), Malaysian blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgata) and Sumatran cobra (Naja sumatrana), while this area is undoubtedly the best place in Southern Thailand to encounter the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). Of course, there is a seemingly unlimited number of unique colubrids to be found here too, including every regionally occurring species of cat snake (Boiga sp), red-tailed racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum), brightly-coloured bronzebacks (Dendrelaphis sp.) and countless other unique snakes, including blood python (Python brongersmai). 

Lizards and amphibians do just as well as snakes in pristine habitat. Last year, we caught the super rare roughneck monitor (Varanus rudicollis) at night and saw several Bell’s angle-headed lizards (Gonocephalus belli), as well as the ultra-cute cat gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus). Huge long-nosed horned frogs (Pelobatrachus nasuta) call around every stream in this area, while species such as Nazgul's frog (Abavorana nazgul) have consistent breeding pools. Keep a sharp eye on every herp you see here, as this forest has huge potential for new country records of reptiles and amphibians. 

We will be staying in a quaint little village surrounded by rainforest for 4 nights, with unbridled access to numerous different trails with highest-quality herping. The village has a restaurant and shop within a 2 minute walk of our rooms, although we will drive to Betong city on several evenings for food and to collect washed clothes. Snakes can be found directly outside the rooms here, and one can never get bored exploring the hills and valleys of Bang Lang. 



Accommodation & washing: 
The accommodation varies from city hotels to jungle bungalows and can be quite rudimentary in the more remote areas. You will always have access to electricity, a fan and a western bathroom as a minimum. All hotels are supposed to have hot water, but it can be unreliable. There is wifi and great phone service (4G) at all accommodation throughout this tour. There will be an opportunity to wash dirty clothes at a laundrette on day 6 of the expedition. 
 
Food: 
Over the course of this tour you will have the opportunity to try a wide variety of traditional Thai cuisine as well as western classics when closer to town, not to forget Thailand’s herpers favourite; 7 Eleven.

Environmental conditions & fitness:
Southern Thailand’s tropical climate is hot and humid all year round. The temperature rarely drops below 20C at night, and usually climbs to 30C or more during the day. Thailand’s deep south is subjected to almost daily rain, so prepare to get wet at any time. During times of substantial rain and cloud cover, it can get relatively cool at night. We will not be scaling any mountains but a minimum level of fitness must be met, we advise an ability to walk 10km per day on uneven terrain. Mosquitoes, leeches and other biting/stinging invertebrates are part of jungle life.

Travel information:
All participants must arrive in Hat Yai before midday (12:00pm) on the 18th November 2024 at the latest, but we advise you to arrive the day before and get a good night of sleep before we begin. We will return to Hat Yai on 28th November 2024, and say our goodbyes the following morning. Regular flights to/from Hat Yai International Airport are available from Bangkok, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.

It is the guests’ responsibility to meet all entry requirements needed to enter Thailand, including visa procedures. Explore Herpetology can help advise entry requirements. Guests travelling from most countries do not require a visa to visit Thailand for less than 30 days. Make sure to check the entry requirements for your country before booking. 


Important note on safety and insurance:
Thailand’s southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala have long been subject to scattered ethnic and religious insurgency. Westerners have never been targeted in the history of this conflict, and it is far safer to travel here than most highly touristic localities around the world. Our team have spent extensive time in Thailand’s most southern provinces and have had nothing but good experiences with both the local people and police. Friendly faces and good food are just as common as elsewhere in rural Thailand, with better forest quality and herpetofauna biodiversity than anywhere else. Moreover, our time in Yala will be spent exploring remote rainforests in two of the most peaceful districts in the region, where tourism is becoming more popular every year. Conflict in the region has been on the decline for several years and is almost unheard of in 2024, yet foreign governments still advise against all but essential travel to the region. Henceforth, many western insurance companies do not offer coverage in Yala province. If this is an issue for you, contact us directly and we can advise on where to get appropriate coverage.

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