You can zoom in and out on this map to find the best way to get there. As you zoom in the roads will be labeled and it is easy to map out a route.
For more pics from this site click here: Hala-bala, Thailand
Bala wildlife reserve is a magical birding location for me. I never get tired of spending a week or so there exploring the area. It is little more than a road running threw the reserve. You can drive threw at your leisure with little to no traffic. There are trails to explore also, but I find the road the best experience.
If heading into the area here are a few tips:
1: Rent a pickup and drive down on your own. Very easy to find and very easy to explore on your own ( the road is very bad in places in the park, so a P.U. is a very good choice for a rental IMO).
2: Stay in Su ngi Kolok, Thailand, It is only about 35 KM. from the park and it has all the comforts of home.
3: Plan your stay for at least 4-7 days if possible. That gives you time to get used to the area and find the fruiting trees and birding hot spots.
Bala is by far the best forest birding location in Souther Thailand IMO. You can see species you will not see anywhere else in Thailand.
There are concerns about safety here in the extreme south of Thailand.
I would suggest you only drive during the day. But, do not be afraid to drive down to the park.
Be prepared to stop and show your face at the check points along the way. They are MANY checkpoints maned by the army. But, they are very friendly and I am never intimated or frightened in any way.
I have been coming down here for years now, and have never had one problem. I even rented a place close to the border one year.
The locals are friendly for the most part. More curious than anything else. No english is spoken here. So, it helps if you can speak a little Thai, but not necessary. If you want something just point and ask how much.
I used to be intimidated by all the stories of murder and bombings coming out of the south. But, all the violence is directed toward the Army and Police. As far as I know no tourists have been targeted in the raids? I have asked the locals here what is up and they all tell me the same story. I am not political in the least and will not repeat it here. But, it is not the foreigners that are being targeted in the south. It is a long standing feud with the Army and Police.
Actually when I see the murders, rapes, robberies, tourists killed in the tourist hot spots. I feel quite comfortable here. Strange
My hobby is travel and photography. Until recently bird watching has taken a back seat to photography. As I am getting older I have invested in a very light high quality lens for photography. And, have gotten into bird watching as well as photography. So, I may start listing the birds I see in the areas I visit. Not sure yet.
This first shot is of a Trogon I have been after for years. Always too high, or not close enough. This year in Bala, they are all over the place and very easy to take.
Scarlet-rumped trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii)
Taken with my new 400mm DO II lens + 1.4 T.C. and 1d mark IV camera.
I was driving down the road in Bala when this guy flew out in front of me. And landed in a tree right next to the road. Easy to take. The next day I heard and called in another one very easily.
560mm, F/5.6, 1/80, ISO 3200
This is with my 500mm lens and 1.4 T.C.. The new 400mm DO II lens is a great lens, but when I need the extra focal length there is nothing that beets the 500mm IMO. Very easy to handle from a car. Excellent IS and very sharp.
Red-bearded bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus)
500m + 1.4 t.c., F/7.1, 1/200, ISO 1250
Temminck's sunbird (Aethopyga temminckii) female
DO II lens 400mm + 1.4 t.c., 1/320, ISO 2500, F/5.6
I saw these guys coming threw at the second bridge driving threw the park. Very striking Iora. And another fast mover when they are foraging for food.
Green iora (Aegithina viridissima)
560mm, DO II lens + 1.4 t.c..
This was at the local fruiting tree. I call it the Bulbul tree. When in bloom it is easy to take all the bulbul's here in Bala.
buff-vented bulbul (Iole olivacea)
700mm, 500 + 1.4 t.c..
Photographed at the Bulbul tree.
Grey-bellied bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris)
700mm, 500 + 1.4 t.c..
blue-winged leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)
560mm, 400mm + 1.4 t.c..
Buff-rumped woodpecker (Meiglyptes grammithorax)
560mm, 400mm + 1.4 T.C.. F/5.6, ISO 1250, 1/50
Crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela)
500mm lens, F/5.6, 1/320, ISO 1250
Oriental dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca)
560mm, F5.6, 1/125, ISO 3200
Safe travels, Gary