Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary
| Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 897 square kilometers and is located in Loei Province in the northern part of Thailand. It stretches across Phu Ruea, Dan Sai, Wang Saphung and Phu Luang districts.
Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1974 and it was enlarged by 97 square kilometers in 1985. The sanctuary is named after the highest mountain present in the reserve, whose peak extends to 1,571 meters. In fact, the sanctuary covers the entire mountain plateau around the peak, which stands at 1,200 meters above sea level. The Loei River originates just to the west of the sanctuary.
Phu Luang means large mountain or the Mountain of the King. The mountain was formed due to geological activity when the Earth’s crust was lifted and the soft soil was sent downwards to the lower lands.
The sanctuary looks spectacular in the winter months from November to January when the surrounding maple trees transform to red and start shedding their leaves. Be prepared to bear extreme cold as during these months, the temperature is known to plunge to minus sixteen degrees centigrade during the night. The best time to visit the reserve is from February through April when the average temperature is around twenty to twenty-four degrees centigrade.
The sanctuary is covered with Lady’s Slipper orchids, white wild orchids, white and red rhododendrons and dendrobiums. Besides seeing animals, do not forget to visit the dinosaur footprint on the rock located on the eastern side of Phu Luang. This footprint is estimated to over 120 million years old. In addition, there are different types of forests including mixed deciduous, dry evergreen and hill evergreen forests. However, the most distinguishing features of Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary are the pine forests, savannah on the plains, mounds and stone terraces.
The reserve is home to an estimated 100 wild elephants. The reserve runs an elephant rehabilitation project under the patronage of the queen of Thailand. You can also see the Phu Luang Cliff frog, which is noted for its ability to change color. The reserve is also famous for being a home to more than 160 species of orchids.