Engage in an adventure tour, trekking or biking in the Famous Cardamom Mountains, an exceptional biodiversity reserve where community-based ecotourism has been successfully developed.
What to experience ?
Chi Phat and Trapeang Rung Communes are located in Koh Kong Province, in the middle of the Southern Cardamom Mountains, which is the second-largest intact rainforest in mainland South-east Asia, and one of the seven last remaining elephant corridors and large predator ranges in the region.
Visitors to Chi Phat have the opportunity for an up-close experience of the wonders offered by the Cardamom Mountains with several ecotourism activities including trekking, mountain biking, home-stays, cycling, bird watching, hiking, swimming, camping, river excursions on traditional wooden boats and kayaking.
The area is excellent for mountain biking enthusiasts, providing a network of trails through villages and, a wide range of landscapes through rolling open pastures, dense tropical rainforest, open woodlands, wetlands, and dozens of rivers, streams and creeks.
Sitting back and cruising on a traditional wooden boat as the sun rises or making your own way by kayak on the scenic Prek Phiphot River or Stung Proat River offers an added opportunity to do some wildlife viewing. Monkeys, hornbills and other rainforest animals can often be seen along the banks of the many rivers that transect the landscape.
Accommodation services include locally-run guest-houses and homestays in local families’ houses. Both accommodation types have Western-style toilets and bucket/scoop showers. A recent addition to the choice of accommodation at Chi Phat is the locally-run ecolodge; with four twin en-suite bungalows, a modern shower, Western-style toilets, mosquito nets and a fan. The relaxed drinking and dining area overlooking the river is an ideal spot at the end of a hard day.
How does it help ?
The Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project was initiated and is still strongly supported by Wildlife Alliance. It aims to support protection of the natural and cultural resources of the area and create job and income opportunities for villagers with the objective that the Community-based organisation ultimately runs and manages all the activities by themselves.
Villagers work as guides, community rangers, motor-taxi drivers, boat operators, cooks, and deal with accommodation. The project fully or partially supports 228 families out of 555 families. The CBET project employs 60 former hunters and loggers as well as operating a Community Ranger team of 30 rangers.
Since the introduction of this project as a new way of earning money ($95,000 since the end of 2008), the community does not entirely depend on the surrounding forest anymore. Hunters and poachers have been converted to guides, and there is much less pressure now on wildlife and forests.
Spending less time in the forest and having more revenue for health care, the quality of life has greatly improved. Some activities such as extensive farming and hunting often require the help of children. These children can now spend more time in school, thus ensuring a better future. Integrated farming, livestock rearing, and a community fishery are currently being established.