Into the Wild

We set out on a Sunday morning with daypacks and water in tow. Three members of the Andaman Discoveries’ team, Nat from N-ACT (North Andaman Community Tourism) and seven Nakha villagers departed for a hike into the Nakha forest. Our expedition was driven by the goal to see one of the world’s largest flowers, commonly known as Bua Poot, Raffleasia or stinking corpse lily.

A dense forest teaming with life of the crawling ant variety, twisted vines and the Thailand humidity made for a strenuous day of adventure.

The plan was described as an estimated three-hour hike to see an extraordinary wonder of a giant flower. We had visions of a day of nature and light exercise.

The welcoming Nakha villagers led us through the dense Nakha forest in Ranong Province. The Nakha villagers are proud of the wonders in their backyard. As such, they facilitate a conservation club to preserve the forest and the Bua Poot flower.

The Bua Poot flower reigns supreme in the Nakha forest.

Our hike was part of a pilot tour to increase awareness about protecting the precious environment of the Nakha forest. The villagers are interested in bringing small groups of select guests, such as area youth groups, to educate people about the nature of the area.

The Bua Poot provides a sense of pride to the community. The enjoyment of sharing a magnificent aspect of where you’re from is a relatable feeling.

Refills of fresh, cool spring water kept us hydrated.

The first 20 minutes of the hike was mild. Then the forest grew increasingly more dense and rugged. Hiking upward quickly turned to scrambling. Standing on our feet descending turned to sliding on our bottoms. A three-hour hike turned into six hours.

The denseness of the forest, combined with heat and humidity, created a thirsty group of hikers. The villagers did their best to ensure our comfort. They were pros at using leaves to fill water bottles with fresh spring water, allowing for refills along the way.

The Bua Poot flower is truly awe-inspiring. There are an estimated 14 species. The efforts of the Nakha villagers are essential to protect the Bua Poot. Several species of the Bua Poot in the world are endangered because of the destruction of the forests where they grow.

The day redefined hiking, formerly thought of as walking on two feet, to mean walking/scrambling on all fours.

The villagers told us that the fruit of the flower is said to have medicinal purposes. The largest flowers are about one meter/three feet across and weigh seven kilograms/15 pounds. The Bua Poot is often referred to as a smelly flower, because of a strong smell exuded, which attracts flies to pollinate them.

While the hike turned out to be far more than we’d expected, there was a strong element of adventure and appreciation in the realization that few people ever journey into the forest we explored.