How little do we know of The Cardamom Mountains and its inhabitants. This wide mountainous range situated in the South West of Cambodia currently houses more than 70 types of mammals, many threatened or endangered species. These include the Indochinese Tiger, the Pileated gibbon, the clouded leopard, the wild cat, and the Malayan sun bear. 400 bird species tweet around the trees, some endemic only to these forests. The once thriving Siam crocodile still survives in the emerald rivers of the Cardamoms and the Asian Elephants have one of the, if not the only, remaining corridors still intact.
Barely Scratching the Surface
All of those wonders above is just the tip of the iceberg, as biologist only scratched the surface of the flora and fauna that can be found in this area. Being so remote and inaccessible makes the Cardamoms very difficult to research. But it also makes it so well conserved and wild. Only recently environmentalist set cameras in the forests to detect and to study the immensity of the wildlife here. Who knows what else could be living out there?
Overcoming a Dark Past
Twenty years ago, The Cardamom Mountains hosted a different kind of activity. The last standing outposts of the Khmer Rouge were scattered among its forests, in one desperate attempt to fight back to power. After the guns went silent marking the end of a long guerrilla war, the Cardamoms began to attract attention. In the early nineties, lodgers scraped their way through the virgin forests in search for mahogany, ebony, and other valuable trees. Fortunately, this ended soon, but another problem arose.
The local villagers, many of whom came here to escape the war and famine in other provinces of Cambodia, used the woods to survive. Poaching and hunting were their way of life. In 2007, something changed. Wildlife Alliance, an NGO that fights for sustainable development and preservation of the natural ecosystem, came to Chi Pat, once a hunters’ village, and managed to turn their way of life. The skills so badly need to survive in the jungle are now employed to guide tourists off the beaten trek. Women opened their houses to homestays and small guesthouses. But most importantly, everyone learned to protect and to preserve the beauty and the beasts of the forest.
The Cardamoms Today
Now, the old tracks have become trekking paths through the jungle. You can choose between a light 4 hours’ trek on the Ta Kiev Mountain, have a picnic near a pure spring, and kayak your way back to the accommodation. You can also choose to have an in-depth exploration of the jungle on a longer 7 hours’ trek. Chances are, if you are quiet enough, you will spot wildlife activity or presence. Or you can discover the traditional way of life of this area. A boat will take you to the fishermen village of Kohkong Khnong, surrounded by one of the largest intact mangrove forest in Asia.
Book your holiday in the most unique way. Visit the first floating tented villas in the world. Our staff will be thrilled to show you some of the deepest hidden secrets of the evergreen Cardamom Mountains.