||Cultural Tour, Day Hiking
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We begin our journey through Cambodia in the country’s charismatic capital, Phnom Penh, uniquely situated at the confluence of the Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers (for which the city gained its previous name, Krong Chaktomuk, translated as the City of Four Faces). The capital city is as striking in its appearance—colonial buildings sit on grand boulevards, bound by ubiquitous rivers—as it is laden with historical significance, and is the essential beginning for our intimate look at the lesser known, rarely glimpsed, regions of Cambodia.
After a day’s sightseeing in the capital, we shift gears and drive south and are quickly immersed in the quiet of the Cambodian countryside, a palpable contrast to the frenetic energy of the Kingdom’s capital. We arrive on the Gulf of Thailand and the seaside town of Kep, lined with sparkling waters to the south and verdant mountains to the west. Kep is known for crab, and its lively crab market is worth a visit. We also enjoy an excursion to the sandy beaches of Rabbit Island, a short boat ride offshore, or alternatively, ascend to the summit of nearby Bokor Mountain, with the atmospheric ruins of its abandoned hill station from the French colonial era.
From Kep we head west, stopping in Kampot, renowned for its flavorful pepper, then continue to Chi Phat and our village homestay in the Cardamom Forest protected area. We’ll have opportunities for hiking, mountain biking or just general meandering through the beautifully pristine surroundings. From Chi Phat we continue along the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor to Tatai village and our floating lodge set in the mangroves. We’ll explore on foot and via kayak, gaining unbridled access to the lush interior that is studded with magnificent waterfalls; additional highlights include an early morning bird watching trek, and a nighttime boat ride on the river to view the fireflies glittering in the trees.
We return to bustling Phnom Penh before heading northward to the city of Siem Reap. Along the way we’ll stop at the seldom visited pre-Angkoran temples at Sambor Prei Kuk, with more than 100 brick shrines interspersed through the forest. We conclude our journey with several days exploring the great complex of temples at Angkor, one of humanity’s greatest architectural achievements (or, better yet, one of its greatest achievements, period).
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive in Phnom Penh
- Day 2: Phnom Penh
- Day 3: drive to Kep
- Day 4: Kep and surroundings
- Day 5: drive to Chi Phat and the Cardamom Forest Protected Area
- Day 6: drive and cruise to the Tatai River and the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge
- Day 7: exploring the mangrove forest
- Day 8: drive to Phnom Penh
- Day 9: drive to Siem Reap via Sambor Prei Kuk
- Days 10 & 11: exploring Angkor temple complex
- Day 12: depart Siem Reap.