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Tonsai Waterfall, Phuket

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If you recall my visit to BangPae waterfall, you'll know the basic recipe for my visits to waterfalls. 30% splashing around in the water, 30% crawling around in the jungle and 40% bug hunting!

Tonsai is free to Thais but visiting the national park is 200 baht for foreigners. If you only go and splash around in the waterfall, then you really haven't gotten your money's worth. Tonsai snakes up into the jungle, and to see most of it, you need to follow the jungle trail up the hill and deep into the trees. Tonsai has a 2km nature trail that makes this easy. At least relatively easy [added, see my article on the couple who got lost in this jungle the same day I visited].

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Watch for the 'Nature Trail' sign on the left, and head off into the jungle. It starts off boring, a termite mound here, a fungus path there, with a very easy wide path. Ooo luck, a tree, ooo luck, a mushroom! But keep your eyes open and as you get deeper and deeper into the jungle the whole explorer vibe kicks in and you'll see the beauty in the jungle.

I quickly spotted some 'melarn-tap'. It's an inch long, slow moving colorful bug. Underneath it's iridescent red, on top iridescent green. Like metallic paint on a car, the colors shine and change as it moves about in the light. I haven't seen these since I was a child, so I picked it up and it took a good look.

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You have to get wet when you visit a waterfall, or you haven't really visited it. Tonsai gives you plenty of places to get wet in. Near signpost 7 two branches of the stream join and this is a perfect place to cool down in the water.

Once you get to signpost 7, the short path back to the car-park is just a clamber across a log. Most people exit here, and the remaining path is less well trodden, and therefore far more interesting. The path heads up along the waterfall at sign 7, I ran into a woman heading back because she couldn't find the path and only had flip-flops on. Wear decent shoes and head up along the rocks next to the stream, you'll quickly find the path again.

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Jin-lacks! Larger than a jin-jok, (gecko), I hardly noticed it until it moved. But that wasn't the prize find. At signpost 9 the path splits left up the hill and and right down the hill. I should have gone left, but a tacquat caught my eye. 2-3 feet long, sunning itself on the path to the right. Wow. I've only ever seen these in zoos, here it was just a few feet away. I followed it through the jungle and it escaped up a tree.

I was rather unimpressed with the termite mound at the entrance to the park. The signpost was there, the mound was there, but where were the thousands of termites marching across the jungle guarded by larger soldier termites?? I wasn't disappointed for long, with fewer visitors deeper in the jungle, the termite army fearlessly crosses the path. Thousands of them! They get real angry as you step between them too.

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If you keep heading up the mountain, and over, you can connect to Bang Pae waterfall, but finding the path was beyond my navigation skills and after a swim at the main waterfall near the entrance to the park, I called it a day.

Tonsai Waterfall is near Talang town in Phuket Island. It's a day of jungle exploring, splashing in water, and spotting critters. Wear trainers or similar decent walking shoes, be prepared to get wet and clamber through jungle, and keep your eyes open.


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