Of all the time we have spent in Thailand, we are woefully lacking jungle adventures. There was some trekking in the north but that seemed to be more hillside than anything, so it was with childish excitement that we pulled into the drive for Anurak Community Lodge in Khao Sok National Park. To hear all about the lodge and our activities during our stay, read on for our full Anurak Community Lodge review.
Our stay was hosted by Anurak Community Lodge but all opinions are entirely our own.
A Note on Our Timing
Our latest trip to Thailand took place in November. Having visited during November before, we were confident of clear blue, sunny skies but in 2021, a crazy weather front was stuck over the country leading to increased rainfall and grey, grey days. This put rather a dampener (pun intended) on some of our plans at Anurak Community Lodge and the National Park but we still did as much as we could and hope to return in better weather.
It is also very important to note that we visited on the second week that they had reopened to tourists. We had just missed another couple and were the only two at Anurak for the duration of our stay.
Anurak Community Lodge Location
Khao Sok National Park is a 285 square mile swathe of primary rainforest that is 150km North of Phuket and inland from the Andaman Coast. Towering limestone peaks rise dramatically from the green canopy, creating the most striking vistas.
Anurak is around 4km the huge Cheow Lan lake but a combination of the weather and the reopening means we were not able to visit. It sounds really beautiful so we must go back!
A Look Around Anurak Community Lodge
Anurak is removed from the strip of backpacker accommodation that sits by the national park’s entrance, giving it a totally different feel. It has its own little section of land with bungalows dotted throughout, allowing guests to feel the seclusion of the countryside whilst still providing plenty of comfort. The focus here is on the nature that surrounds the resort and providing activities that help people experience it with minimal impact on the environment. Throughout the site is plenty of greenery. Some is native to the area, some less so…but we will get to that later.
For our stay, we had a Deluxe Green Bungalow. Our room, “Farang” (which means, “Foreigner” was a surprisingly large studio. Anurak Community Lodge also offers a twin version that can be connected to a double room to create a family size option that allows you to share with the kids or a group of buddies. There is also the option to stay in a fancy Safari Tent but I believe these were being renovated during our stay.
Walking into the room, the first thing we came across was the huge storage space that marks the back of the bed and was more than enough for all our stuff. There was a handy safe and……
Coming around the side of this big wardrobe we found our lovely big, King bed. It was covered in a mosquito net which was great but we did have to pop some duct tape over a few gaps. Ah, the eternal struggle.
The bed was incredibly comfortable with more than enough space for us to flail around in our sleep without disturbing each other.
The view from our room was of lush green trees and a grey sky that turned bright blue on our last morning. The wraparound balcony that covered two sides of the room was glorious and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting out there in the sunshine putting my face on for the day.
The bathroom was built onto the other side of the room, sticking out like a quirky Lego block. The bathroom was semi open to the outside which I always love. It’s no fun being in air conditioning while you shower. There was a toilet at one end and a surprisingly great shower with rainfall head at the other. The sink was actually in the room just outside the bathroom. It was a great use of space.
The toiletries were all in big bottles, reducing waste but the bottles were plastic. I don’t know if this was prevent them smashing on the concrete floor of the bathroom but if so, maybe they could consider metal bottles?
One thing that we weren’t fans of were the two things that seemed odd for an eco resort. When we entered the room, the air con was on full blast, and clearly had been for a while. It wasn’t that warm outside and it would have been better to pop it on for two minutes before our arrival, if at all. The other thing was the motorbike that took us from our transfer to the reception and then to our room. We understand that some people have large luggage and may struggle with the relatively short walk, but using a petrol bike seems a little off. Maybe they could look at some sort of electric scooter or someone taking the bags to room while the guests walk to the reception.
Dining – Hornbill Restaurant
The on site Hornbill restaurant is where all your meals are taken at Anurak Community Lodge. It has the most wonderful view! A forest of green, edged by mist-wreathed dramatic cliffs and topped with a bright blue sky. It makes for a rather dreamy scene to enjoy your breakfast to.
As we were the only guests, we had our own table, reserved right by the railings. Dining in our own private restaurant was lovely and strange all at once. We felt like VIPs but it was sad not to have the friendly babble of other guests as well as having the chance to meet some new travel buddies. Yet another excuse to go back!
But on to the food:
Breakfast was made up of two parts…or three of you count my fabulously large cafetière of life-giving coffee.
Mr Fluakey opted for the cooked breakfast and enjoyed his wok-scrambled eggs and sausages. It is pretty standard fare for Thailand but would set you up nicely for a day of activities. Served along side the cooked options was two kinds of fruit. We had two breakfasts, enjoying watermelon, guava (or was it papaya) and pineapple.
Lunch and Dinner
The menu at Hornbill is quite small but they have decided to focus on locally sourced, fresh ingredients, creating tasty crowd-pleasing Thai and Western classics. I was excited to see some of my favourites, tucking in whilst chatting to our lovely hosts.
Mr Fluskey is not a fan of spice so he opted for more of the western options. The omelette was stuffed with spring onions so I didn’t get to try it. He also opted for the toasted sandwich because no holiday is complete for him until he has had a club sandwich of some description.
I picked my favourite Thai soups and happily slurped my way through a flavour packed Tom Kha Gai and punchy but not overly spicy Tom Yam. It is a clear they try and go easy on tourist palates, giving just enough burn to make you feel like you’ve conquered the bowl but nowhere near as much as the chefs would add at home.
When we arrived, I was handed a bamboo cup and offered some coffee straight from a bamboo kettle(?) that had been heated on an open fire. Mr Fluskey isn’t a fan of hot drinks so he passed but I was very grateful to have my hot drink for the first few minutes as the rain was a little chilly.
On the raft, we each had a proper seat which was far more civilised than I was expecting. I took the front seat and Me Fluskey climbed aboard behind me. The captain pushed us away from the river bank and I realised he would be punting us along. (That’s punting in British university towns and pushing the boat along with a pole in the rest of the world). We glided along with the green water flowing beneath our feet, the green trees to either side and the grey hills above. There were a couple of moments where the river carried a tiny bit faster which was fun but in no way scary.
As we slowly meandered through the river bends, we saw another group of tourists setting up their own bamboo fire and children playing. It was supremely relaxing and definitely eco-friendly.
The land that Anurak Community Lodge sits within was planted with palm oil trees. These trees are only useful for palm oil production and give little to nothing to an ecosystem. (Elsewhere, deforestation for palm oil trees is a huge problem so I have a distinct bias against them). Anurak Community Lodge is working with Chiang Mai Univeristy’s Forest Restoration and Research Unit on a replanting program for the area/ They are slowly replacing these beasts with more natural, productive and ecologically integrated greenery. The initiative is called “Rainforest Rising” and it a wonderful step in the right direction for the area.
On our second day, as the rain cascaded down, we got to do our little bit to contribute to the project. I was fully expecting to be handed a spade and get stuck in but we arrived at two holes, prepared for us and handed a tiny sapling that needed a new home. It would have been fun to do more of the physical work so it didn’t feel like such a token gesture but it was still great to get my hands dirty (very dirty) and know we were helping.
Final Thoughts on our Anurak Community Lodge Review
It was a strange time to visit Anurak Community Lodge. We seemed to have the run of the place, but on the flipside, we were unable to do a few of the activities we would have liked due to the weather. It would be wonderful to see it operating fully when I am sure everyone would be having a great time. I loved our lovely big bungalow and being surrounded by such lovely greenery (I guess we have the rain to thank for that). It is a special thing that Anurak Community Lodge is doing, integrating with the rainforest around them and trying to encourage their visitors to respect it too. Visit and bring shoes you can get muddy, plenty of respect for nature and a sense of adventure!