Trekking in the Cardamom Mountains

Sitting in the south west of Cambodia and to the east of Thailand is the Cardamom mountains. It covers 6% of Cambodia and is home to huge areas of dense rainforest around 10.922.060 acres. The area was once avoided due to it being the last place of the Khmer Rouge, so remained largely underdeveloped.  There are numerous species of wildlife and habitats however this has meant that the area is vulnerable to poachers and loggers, despite much of it being protected areas. The area is now becoming more popular for tourists and there is the community-based eco-tourism project that was set up in the village of Chi Phat.

Another gateway to the Cardamom Mountains is through the town of Koh Kong itself. The town is accessible from other cities such as Phnom Pehn and Sihanoukville via the highway. It is also about 10km from the Thai border. If you’re looking to go trekking most guesthouses and hotels can help arrange this for you. Tours can be a day trip or you can stay overnight in the forest trekking 2-3 days.

I did a day trip as I did not have the time to stay overnight, which I regret not making time for. We set of in the morning after breakfast and headed over to the river. Here we boarded our tiny boat and it was just me, a fellow traveller and our guide. After a 20-minute boat ride along the river we got off in, what felt like, the middle of nowhere in the forest and began our trek. The humidity was unreal and I was pouring with sweat, even though it was still early morning, as the forest is very dense with trees. We trekked up to a view point where we could see some of the forest and river. I also seemed to acquire several mosquito bites even whilst wearing repellent! Our guide used to be a poacher, as are many of the guides now. In a bid to crack down on poaching and illegal logging a lot of these men have now become guides as they have an excellent knowledge of the forest and vegetation.

View point of the Cardamom Mountains area

Tiny Pineapple!

mushrooms in the forest

After trekking for a few hour’s, we stopped by a small waterfall for a swim and some lunch. It was such a beautiful spot and it was strange that there was just the three of us there for miles around and we had it all to ourselves. Whilst trekking further into the forest our guide taught us about the vegetation and different species it was home too. We also found a few traps around. After a while we found another small waterfall to have a quick dip in and headed back to the boat before the storm hit us. It was such an amazing day, I learnt so much but I was also surprised how quiet it had been. Don’t get me wrong it is nice to have these beautiful spots without the crowds of people but I do feel like people are missing out.

Where to stay

There are no hostels in this area and it’s not a thriving tourist or backpacker spot so the standard of rooms is a little lower quality. If you are on a budget I would highly recommend Ritthy’s retreat. It has a 10-bed dorm style room for less than $5 a night. The owner is super helpful and can help advise and book any of the tours as well as your onward travel. The food is also really good there and an excellent price.

view from Ritthy’s retreat

the travelling nurse x


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