Cambodia, being a tropical country, has a wide variety of wildlife species in its habit. Unfortunately, like many other countries, with the changes in natural landscape many animals are in risk of extinction. That’s why the work of wildlife conservation centers is so important: not only to save the animals, but also to educate the public and raise awareness. Beside, who doesn’t want to meet some animals in a setting where you are sure they are well treated?
Have a look at the wildlife center in Phnom Tamao. While having fun you will help support a project saving hundreds of animals from exploitation!
A rescued elephant on her morning stroll with the caretaker.
They portrait it as a zoo, in order to attract a Khmer audience as well. However, the wildlife center is a large property with different zones for the various species, most of them recovering from being:
- pets, which is illegal in Cambodia to have wildlife animas at home, especially from endangered species
- trapped on illegal snares setup by hunters, often harming them to a great extent (for instance there is an elephant on site that lost his leg due to these traps)
- exploited in zoos or other businesses with terrible conditions (e.g. tourism-based businesses where they are beaten up to stay calm for the tourists)
- traded in the black market, often to harvest parts of their body for traditional medicines
- rescued from human-to-animal conflicts, for instance a wild animal living near a village and destroying the farms or eating livestock, therefore making the local population wanting to hunt it down in order to protect themselves
Lucky, a very happy female elephant enjoying some treats from visitors such as pineapple, corn or peanuts.
You can see and interact with different animals and learn more about them, curiosities about their lifestyle, their current situation in terms of risk of extinction, etc. Leopards, gibbons, bears, monkeys, tigers, otters… the list is huge! You can visit as a normal visitor or book a tour. The money will directly support the programs in order to treat the animals and, hopefully, release them in the wild. They will not release them f they can’t adapt to the wild conditions anymore, hunt by themselves, etc.
A caretaker cleaning a prosthetic leg for Chhouk, a male elephant that lost his leg to an illegal hunting snare.
They also have tours available in the province of Koh Kong. Here you can stay in their main release center (more info here), and visit their ecotourism project in the village of Chi Phat where you can sleep in a homestay. There are many activities such as trekking, mountain biking and boat tours, enjoy beautiful nature, rainforest and waterfalls, breath some fresh air and enrich your trip with an authentic experience! Check here for more info on this.
If you are heading north, they also have a wildlife release center near Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap. Have a look at their website for more info.
A cute gibbon looking for some human touch.
Camboticket has a variety of buses and vans to Koh Kong and Siem Reap! Why not getting yourself into nature and help an interesting project saving Cambodian’s wildlife?
If you are in Phnom Penh, take a break from the city and visit their wildlife center in Phnom Tamao! It is just on the outskirts of the city, in Takeo province.
Freshly arrived in Saigon 2 months ago, we already fell in love with this city! 🙂
First surprise : the traffic. As French, we usually do not see so many motobikes on the road. We were especially shocked by the fact that they don’t stop at every red light or overtake the bus at less than 20 centimeter.
After 40 min spent in the cooling and connected bus, I arrived in district 1, here I met my friend in a little hidden guesthouse. After he packed, we went by Uber (lucky us!) to our new house, that we found easily on Facebook. Finding a place to live it’s not a big deal as there is a big network of expats in the city.
On our way to go, we discovered this amazing city with all thoses little shops selling everything that can be sold, the typical architecture with the contrast of narrow houses and brand new big buildings, the basic restaurants filled with little tables and chairs, filled themselves with foods and beers, all of thoses motobikes that an entire family drives, holding sometimes a baby or a fridge.
Once at the house at 7am, the good smelling barbecue made by a vietnamese man for breakfast welcomed us!
After we met a french expat who is working here as landlord since 6 months. Thanks to him, we learnt many basic informations that we needed for living in this city: where to exhange money, how to behave (the hand shaking movement to say “no/I don’t know”), how to drive in this crazy traffic and the cost of life.
Finally on week-end, my roomate and I decided to go discovering our new place, it was time to drive inside that traffic jungle, find out where to buy food and home stuffs and having parties in the famous Bui Vien street. For food, there is nothing easier, street foods and little restaurants are here to provide you a range of dishes from basic rice with meat to famous vietnamese sandwich (Banh Mi Thit ) and the typical noodles soup (Pho). The good news: you can take away everything!
For driving, it might look difficult because of the impressive number of motobikes, but all actually drive in the same way : just adjusting your speed to the one in front of you and don’t give any care of the one behind you. After being aware of that rule, we are now enjoying the city much more than if we hadn’t learnt how to drive because motobike is just life here!
Last but not least, partying in Saigon. Night life is just crazy and fun: you can drink for cheap, the city has a lot of different kind of bars and people from everywhere in the world ! Most of the big parties are in Bui vien street but thanks to its diversity, you can just find your own spot and enjoy the night life!
Finally, if I have to resume my life in Saigon in one word, it could be FREEDOM
Tip : You are by yourself and don’t know what to do tonight ? Go to the TnR // 57 Do Quang Dau,District 1, Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville 700000
An hidden gem in the south of Cambodia
Photo by Anthony Risse
To join the Areng Valley is already an adventure: after a few hours by bus, you must ask to the driver to stop… nowhere! It is just an intersection, with a sandy road going into the jungle.
Our motorbike drivers are already waiting for us, one motorbike per person. Then we drive across the mountains, the slippery road and the stunning landscapes of Areng Valley for almost two hours.
Photo by Anthony Risse
The night is coming and we stop in the Areng riverside for our first camp: nothing luxurious, just a hammock under a plastic sheeting. Because of the rainy season, the level of the river is high, but it is still possible to take a natural shower inside.
The day after, we go again behind our motorbike drivers and stop in a local family house for breakfast. Since the foreigners are rare here the family is more than welcoming and the breakfast is transformed in a memorable exchange.
We finally say good bye to our brave motorbike drivers and start to trek. It is like entering a new world, with giant trees and wild sounds all around. After a few hours of hiking, we arrive at the camp on a big rock on the top of the mountain. The view on the valley in astonishing! We can see kilometers and kilometers of primary forest with a good chance to see wildlife in the canopy.
Photo by Anthony Risse
In the morning, we are waken up by the gibbon’s call. We decide to follow the sound to have a chance to observe them. After one hour, we have a unique chance to meet two gibbons!
Later on, coming back in the valley, we walk until the riverside, where kayaks are waiting for us. One more time, the immersion is total, and we try to meet the famous Siam crocodile, until two flights of great hornbills.
Photo by Anthony Risse
The Areng valley exploration is definitely one of the best adventure to do in south Cambodia!
Don’t hesitate to contact the Cambodian NGO ”Mother Nature Cambodia” and their project ”Wild Koh Kong” to organize your trip. Thanks to their work, the Areng Valley survived to a dam project.