In the middle of the bushy evergreen forest of Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, Tak Province, two creeks are flowing down from Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean and joining at the same place on the high cliff which resembles the heart shape. It's recognized as one of the most beautiful and highest waterfall of Thailand. The only name of this waterfall is "Pitugro".
"This waterfall wasn't just recently found, Karen tribe knew it already. It was just found in tourism and famous now. Karen calls this waterfall Pitugro. Petro Lo Su is the name that people call it later and Karen didn't recognize this name." Someone at Umphang tells us this story.
And I also got the clear confirmation from talking to local Karen.
"Have you been to Petro Losu Waterfall?".....My conversation partner is puzzled and have no answer. But when I ask again "What about Pitugro, have you been there?" Then I got the answer "Oh yes, I have. It's over there."
Like I said earlier, Pitugro is just famous for tourism less than a decade time. I saw its photos on the internet and my thirst inside is calling for this visit but I keep missing it, year after year, until this rainy season. My friends who used to share adventurous trips together invited me for Pitugro and I said yes without having to consider anything.
Let me talk about traveling to Pitugro a bit. This waterfall is located in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary but it's the zone without any unit to take care. The travel hasn't been clearly managed. If you ask whether we can go without a tour guide...The answer is yes if you know the way but otherwise, I recommend you to contact the tour agency or the resort in the Umphang who provides tourism services. They have full services and this is the best way of not getting lost or anything. And the highlight of heart-shape waterfall is only available in the rainy season, from June to October, where the water will be running down.
This trip is formed with 17 people. We are traveling towards Mae Sot District, Tak Province. After that, we just follow the plan organized by the resort which one of our members has contacted earlier...it's just simple like this.
That we have a lot of people due to we travel during the holiday of Asalha Puja Day in June. We big group from Mo Chit Bus Terminal meet with a smaller group at Mae Sot Bus Terminal where two trucks of the resort have been waiting to pick us up (I will mention on how to travel by bus at the end of the review).
This trip, we have both new friends and old friends. There are teachers, students, soldiers, nurses, pharmacists, bartenders, bankers, and many more. But what we all have in common is adventurous spirit.
From Mae Sot Bus Terminal, the truck takes us through Phop Phra District and go in Umphang District with more than 1,200 curves and takes us nearly 3 hours. Some people vomit along the way but let it be a mystery of whom I'm talking about (haha).
We arrive Umphang at 10.45 a.m. Then, we go to our accommodation at Suk Satien Camp. A lot of tourists keep visiting during rainy season. Some is here for Pitugro like us while some comes to Thi Lo Su. We then go take shower, eat something, leave our luggage for deposit and get on the truck again when it's almost noon.
The truck drives us from Umphang downtown to Ban Kui Loe To. Even our truck drives more professional than Vin Diesel, it takes us about one and a half hour to arrive here.
The assemble and starting point towards the waterfall is on the main road like this. We then manage our bag. We have two guides without any Look Hab (the one who carry our bags for us) (but we already nicely ask the guide to help us carry some, haha...)
Many people come to conquer the white heart during this long holiday. We start our trip at 14.00 p.m. I think we are the last group for today but we keep finding ten of others and more is keeping up with us.
The route towards the camping area is not so far. I think it's approximately 4-5 km and it's not steep. Anyhow, we walk through different landscape and inevitably, we need to walk through mud and river.
After stepping into mud from the start, we walk through corn fields of Karen where some of them haven't started planted yet this year. The important point of this is since this area is the farming area, many junctions are there but without any directional sign towards the waterfall. It's fairly easy to get lost and this is my personal experience.
Since many tourists are coming today, the tour guide of each group tries to walk fast to reserve the camping area. In turns many tourist have to walk by themselves and get confused.
I'm one of the first in my group to walk ahead. The local asked me of where I'm going when I walk for a while. I said "I'm going to Pitugro Watefall." The local then said "It's not this way." Oh no. I can still walk to the right direction. The problem is four or five people in our group already walk ahead. I have to hurried run to take them back. Before I can get everyone back on track is quite exhausting.
And it's not only me who gets lost. I learn later that many other group and friends in our group also got lost. So please be careful about this.
Once we are on the right path, we start again, crossing the river and mud. The best thing about this place is no snail is there to suck our blood regardless of how wet it is.
We walk through the forest to our lower camping area at around 16.00 p.m. If we exclude the time we lost, I think it takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes walking from the starting point. We are also lucky that it's not raining.
A lot of people is here at the camp. I heard it's about 200 people. Some people sleep in tent, some are in sleeping cradle, and some in mackerel style (people sleep next to one another with only fly sheet tied to prevent the dew and rain). In addition to this lower camping area, we can also camp higher near the waterfall and Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean. But this area is the most convenient one as it's close to the stream where we can drink and cook. For the restroom, you know the answer. Of course, there's none.
We can't come and not enjoying the water. This cool and clear water is so refreshing. We just have to walk a bit up following the waterfall.
When it's about eating time, we help one another to cook but for those who don't know how to cook, they just have to wait (haha). We are so lucky that we have several good cooks with us. We eat, laugh, and chat as people who have the same passion. We quickly make friends with new people and everyone is fun and happy.
The morning, the alarm (people) wake us up even before the sun is risen. Each person didn't get enough sleep due to the humid hot and some people who sleep in mackerel style also got bite by some insects that can't be caught so they got itchy and small blisters. So, we have to be careful about this as well.
After cooking and eating breakfast, we keep our bags together here. At 08.00 a.m., the guide takes us up to the highlight of this trip at Pitugro Waterfall with the heart shape and Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean. There are two ways up there and we choose to go up and down with different route. Our first destination is Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean. It's quite steep when we actually walk up to the mountain.
About an hour, we reach the camping area at the way down from the waterfall. Some people camped here last night.
From the camping area, the route is getting deeper. It's both narrow and slippery which is hard to walk pass by each other. Along the road is full of lush cycad. We slowly climb up for about half an hour. Then we get out of forest line and start to see beautiful mountains.
From this angle, we could see two creeks flowing from the top of the mountain.
Soon, we reach the Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean View Point (without a single mango, literally Ma Muang Sam Muean refers to 30,000 mangoes). Then what, of course, it's time for photos.
We see how high the water is coming from. It's originally flowing from the top and form the Pitugro Waterfall.
This viewpoint is not the highest point of Doi Ma Muang Sam Muean. Due to limited time as we only stay one night here so we don't have time to hike up. More importantly, the white fog is covered the top of the mountain. Two of our fast hike members try to conquer this top at 1,700 m. with limited time but finally they also give up as the fog is thick that nothing can be seen......let's come back again next time.
After taking enough photos at the viewpoint, we walk down the same way. We take lots of time now as people keep walking up. Once we reach the camp, we continue walk down to the waterfall. Now, my heart is beating fast as the scene I wanted to see with my eyes comes closer and closer.
This is the water at the end of this waterfall. We reach here at noon and from here, it is only about 100 m towards our destination.
I take many photos for my friends in the trip but do you believe that I don't even have a single photo taken with this waterfall? It's not that no body takes it for me but I don't have the thinking of taking photo with it.....Simply standing in front of the greatness, my heart is already full and this is the happiest moment of a journey.
And oh..... the amount of the water we see here is only 50% because it doesn't rain a lot on the western side of Thailand this year. We didn't see any rain in Umphang during our several days here. If you visit here when the water is fully flowing, the greatness will be several times than this.
We fully enjoy with Pitugro the longest possible before going down for lunch at the end of the water down there. After that, we enjoy the water a while. Some group is camping in this area. Like I mentioned earlier, there's yet any proper management in this area.
After that, we walk along the stream and go back to our camping area. I feel like now is farther than when we came (probably it's just the feeling). After 50 minutes walking, we are now at the opposite side of the camping ground.
Now, the sun is out. Oh wow...the water is extremely clear, it's clearer than the tap water at home. Actually, it's clearer than any fresh water I've seen. I now truly realize the meaning of the water of the forest.
Then, we pack and start to walk out of the camp at around 15.000 p.m. On the way back, everyone knows where they are going and walk pretty fast. It takes only about an hour and we arrive at the starting point where two trucks have been waiting there to take us back to the resort.
Let's take a group photo as a memory and last action for the conquering Pitugro Waterfall mission.
And that's it, the mission to conquer the white heart of Umphang forest which is the main theme of this review though our trip continues. The next day, we go rafting with rubber boats along Mae Klong River until we reach Ban Pa La Ta which takes nearly 7 hours. We go through Thi Lo Jo Waterfall, high rock cliffs and many beautiful views.
On the last day, we also go for a sunset at Doi Hua Mod. After getting out of Umphang, we also stop at Pha Charoen Waterfall a bit before going for our last destination at Mae Sot Bus Terminal. Since this trip focuses on Pitugro Waterfall, I just give you some other views as complimentary photos
Umphang is another very amazing district. More importantly, you cannot bypass it to somewhere else. You must mean to come here only. This is my second time here and I'm sure I will definitely have a third time.
But whether my third time will be the same.......at this white heart of Umphang or not, let the time help us decide.
Travel to "Pitugro" by Bus
- Take the bus to Mae Sot Bus Terminal
- From Mae Sot Bus Terminal, take Song Taew running from Mae Sot to Umphang which takes about 5 hours
- From Umphang, take Song Taew running from Umphang to Ban Peng Kleng which go pass Ban Kui Loe To but the timetable is uncertain and very few cars are running, about two hours each and it takes about one and a half hours
- Travel with the bus and backpacking leaves us with no guide (if we want one, we must waste our time and find one from the village). Like I mentioned earlier, it's very easy to get lost here. If you are going in group, it's a fine idea. But for 2-3 people, no one has tried yet...because it's very dangerous unless we come on Saturday which has the tourist groups almost every week.
- And don't forget, the water at Pitugro is only there in the rainy season. You won't see it if you come other times.
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